This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

This took me a long time to read.

Not because it was bad.

It was very, very good.

But I have been in a reading slump. For some unknown reason, I have found myself more in crossword-puzzle-mode than reading mode. So instead of reading a few pages each night, I do a puzzle or two and end up getting really sleepy and setting the book aside.

But every day I wonder: what's going on in "Augusten's" life?

I finally found out. And man, what I life he lead.

I read his brother's book, Look Me In the Eye, which was just as eye-opening but in a *very* **very** different way.

Augusten, who changed his name to this one at some point in his life, grew up in an extremely dysfunctional way. If you ever wondered if your childhood was 'off', read this book and compare. If you relate to it, then bravo! for surviving.

To sum up: Augusten's older brother has Asperger's, but no one knew it at the time and just labeled him odd. Dad was an alcoholic and mom was crazy. Literally. Mom had several breakdowns that warranted hospitalizations.

Oh. And Augusten is gay.

Mom and dad divorces. Dad wants nothing to do with his children. Mom has a hard time coping with life and gives Augusten away (brother is older and out of the house) to her psychiatrist. Yes, like ADOPTION.

And the doctor is not all there either.

So Augusten grows up with the mad doctor's family. The book covers mostly his life with them, especially with the doctor's children, who he grows very close to. After all, it's really who he has. And perhaps, in some way, Augusten is all they have.

The doctor's house is filthy. The doc believes in "free will" and expressing one's anger. So no one really has to do anything, but that also means, they can DO anything.

Some of the things they don't like to do? Clean. Take the Christmas tree out. It was May that the tree continued to stay in the house because everyone had a 'pissing' contest on who owns responsibility for taking the tree out. So it stayed.

Or one day, being bored enough to take down the kitchen ceiling. And no one gets in trouble. It's just a way to express yourself, after all.

It's a sad, bizarre memoir. It's also graphic. Burroughs has a "relationship" with a 30-something year old man at the age of 13. Another one of the doctor's patients, who in essence, is a pedophile.

But Burroughs is witty and wry and in many ways, nonchalant about the whole thing. I gasped at some of the things that went on in his life and wondered how in the world he survived. He did and managed to have a lucrative career in advertising.

After reading more about him (which I love to do after I read a great book), I realize that movie was made from the novel. How did I miss that? Now I need to go back and update my Netflix queue.

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