Sunday, March 05, 2006

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs: Book Review

Running with Scissors would, I think, lend itself nicely to being filmed.

Written in short, episodic spurts, Burroughs describes each chapter in his harrowing childhood mostly with a sitcom-esque hilarity. It's filled with the sort of witty, absurd fiction writing that could easily be converted into a screenplay, and that can be really fun to read. (Turns out I wasn't the only one who thought so. They made a movie out of it.)

Apparently a true story, Burroughs' memoir begins by detailing the tumultous relationship between the protagonist (Burroughs) and his mentally unstable mother. His father and brother make brief cameo appearances, before disappearing almost completely.

Much of the novel is set off when the Augusten's mother gives him away at the age of 11 to her dysfunctional psychiatrist who lives in a big, Victorian house with his equally dysfunctional family. A modern-day Addams family. Much of it quite funny, but a lot of it equally creepy.

In fact, the more you read the less funny the book becomes. A book less concerned with fleshing out its characters or plotline, than with laughing and making fun of a history littered with child abuse, sexual violence, and neglect. It's an uncomfortable compromise.


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