SCISSORS by Augusten Burroughs
Reviewed by Barbara D. Spelman, Under the Tree Book
5, 2003) Running with Scissors is
a memoir written by Augusten Burroughs. Available in paperback,
it is not a great piece of literature but at just over 300
pages, it is a quick read and inspires substantial discussion.
The author discusses his youth as an only child growing
up in western Massachusetts near the University of Massachusetts
and Smith College. During his teens, his mother experiences
a mental breakdown and allows her psychiatrist to raise him
along with his own extended family. At the same time, he has
to deal with his own emerging sexual identity, amidst a household
of young people without any real adult supervision.
It was the constant description of family dysfunction and
disregard of housekeeping that made one member say she felt
dirty reading these episodes. The group concluded that we
never really know what goes on in another family. Also, growing
up in the '60's and '70's, we could each remember a family
that was just a little odd, whose free thinking was maybe
extreme, yet initially intriguing. The author remembered holidays
that went far beyond anyone's imagination -- Christmas trees
left up for months, Thanksgiving turkey carcasses that were
never cleaned up, etc.
While everyone in our book club finished the book, only
one reader could say she enjoyed it. There is dark humor but
the pain of the author's upbringing is difficult to read about.
However, it made us feel a little better about our individual
While I can not give this book an unequivocal recommendation,
there was certainly plenty of material for discussion.
FROM THE EDITORS: We'd love to hear from other Larchmont
readers. Take the Book poll and add your
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