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“Running with Scissors”: a review of Augusten Burroughs’ memoir


Book Running with Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs. Backdrop is sun umbrellas at the beach.

Running with Scissors is one of those books that I have wanted to read for such a long time, but somehow never managed to find the book at the right moment. When I found a second-hand copy of the memoir at a second-hand book fair in Geneva, I decided to pick it up. The book travelled with me to Catania, Sicily this summer and I loved reading whilst relaxing on the beach.

Augusten Burroughs’ childhood makes most people grateful for their boring upbringings. His family life was volatile and far too much to process as a child/teenager. Burroughs tells the story of his childhood with the same type of innocence that he probably would have experienced his surroundings. His matter-of-fact way of writing some pretty surreal events is what gives his writing charm and black humour. Despite the book dealing with sexual assault, mental health crises, family abuse, domestic violence, and a whole bunch of other things that I feel like a need a psychology degree to properly identify, Burroughs is a really funny writer. And it seems to be true for writing as in real life: if you didn’t laugh you would cry.

The discussions and treatment of mental health between parent/child relationships were what drew me to Burroughs memoir, because these are things that are very close to home for me. Having a parent who is pyschologically unreliable changes how quickly children have to grow up, and this is evidenced throughout Burroughs writings from how he talks with his mother to the intimate relationships he has with older men when he is just a young teenager.

I feel like I am jumping on the Burroughs bandwagon a little late here, but I am genuinely excited to read more of his writing. Sometimes in the book blogging world there is a pressure to always read the most up-to-date books, be on-trend, and get the advanced copy. Yet, books should have a longer shelf life than that (pun intended).

Are you an Augusten Burroughs fan? What book should I read next from him? As always, share the reading love.

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