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Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

Running with Scissors

by Augusten Burroughs

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
13,364282303 (3.55)205
True story of a boy whose mother gave him away to be raised by a psychiatrist. He had to survive a bizarre household where there were no rules.
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» See also 205 mentions

English (276)  Italian (2)  German (1)  French (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (281)
Showing 1-5 of 276 (next | show all)
Lulzy and fascinating and horrifying and wonderful! ( )
  thewanlorn | Feb 24, 2020 |
This is a memoir of a chaotic childhood and teenage years and I found it upsetting rather than funny, which was what the blurbs were suggesting. ( )
  mari_reads | Sep 7, 2019 |
Sadly hilarious or hilariously sad??? I'm not sure but I loved reading it. Think Little Miss Sunshine meets The Glass Castle. ( )
  LizBurkhart | Sep 5, 2019 |
The tone was troubling., I didn't really laugh ... ( )
  erikasolberg770 | May 14, 2019 |
“Running With Scissors” by Augusten Burroughs
-Book Review-

Sometimes real life can seem unimaginable, a dream, or even fiction, but Augusten Burroughs’ stunning memoir Running With Scissors insinuates that life can be unbelievable. This secretive coming-of-age story seems impossible, but as you read every chapter the clarity and egregiousness with which Burroughs remembers every disgusting detail seems unrealistic. The events of the book are so bizarre that they could not have been fabricated, no matter how hard he might have tried to erase them from his mind. This story is a notable example of the abuses that can and go on in homes in our society, unrecognized to others around them. While growing up, the author and main character, lived in two such homes. Augusten Burroughs opened the doors to us all to experience the scandalous story that was his life. Using humorous anecdotes he describes tales of his youth, which were grisly experiences of abuse and neglect. Although not suited for the light of heart, I would strongly recommend this memoir to young adults and older. The language and imagery in his book is very impactful and leaves lasting impressions that his readers can relate with. It shows us what he was dealing with by evoking mental images that allow us to connect on an emotional plane with the scene.
Augusten Burroughs, is clearly a talented author as the tone throughout the memoir is incredibly sarcastic, as well as subtly comical. As we see when he is describing his mother, “And my mother began to go crazy. Not crazy in a let’s paint the kitchen bright red! Sort of way. But crazy in a gas oven, toothpaste sandwich, I am God sort of way” (Burroughs, 28). This gives the narrative a black humoresque feeling to it, as he uses comedy as a defense mechanism to hide the detrimental thoughts that came close at hand with the memories. The illustrations he uses to describe how crazy his mom really are uncommon and funny but it is understood by the readers. For example society finds people insane when they say they are God so people are mentally unstable and maybe a person who has major issues make a sandwich of toothpaste because they love it. “Normal” people wouldn’t do that.
By using imagery and details we can form a mental image of what Burroughs was thinking and going through. “ I sat pressed up against the unlocked door, miserable. It was my secret hope that the door would fly open on the highway and I would tumble from the car, rolling onto the highway where I would be crushed beneath the tires of the Barstow onion truck behind us” (Burroughs, 15). The readers have a better understanding of the pain and where the authors frame of mind was at the time. We understand that he was unhappy with his life and he wouldn’t mind dying, because secretly he was imagining his death.
Augusten Burroughs also uses many similes and metaphors in his book it makes the writing more captivating. Similes spark the reader’s imagination while getting the message across. For example when he tells us about his brother, “He wants nothing to do with me at all. I want to stab him with a butcher knife, my brother would reply flatly. ‘Yeah he is basically worthless.’ Throughout my life, my brother had been the one person I could rely on. Even when it seemed we had absolutely nothing in common. I knew that he was as reliable as a mathematical formula” (Burroughs, 108). He described his emotion which really cannot be explained with words. Augusten expresses how much he loved his brother and how important it was that his brother kept him from doing something he would regret. With his brother’s calm and unpretentious responses kept Augusten wondering why his brother was not upset so Augusten learned to be angry but to not be affected by other people. It kept him grounded. Augusteen knew that his brother would always tell him the truth and that he was dependable and honest, such as a formula is always sensible and sincere. Burroughs’ nefarious, berserk and insane life, was lunacy so all he could do was laugh about it, this was his answer to the pathetic chaos of his childhood.
There are countless reasons that make a memoir a must-read: well written, interesting topic, funny, or a compelling story line. From the beginning of Running With Scissors it is exciting and laughable. You never know what’s going to happen next. It begins a compelling journey into his life and grabs the interest of the reader with the humor he instills in the hurt he encounters while overcoming obstacles. Yes, I do admit that there were many pages that made me feel queasy because they were so sickening; but his candor and the way he finds humor in every situation made his book amusing, heartbreaking and memorable. Burroughs easily weaves basic literary elements: imagery, simile, and humor to create a memoir that is absolutely amazing; while infusing loss, helplessness, anger, and hope. No matter the reader this memoir will bring a mixture of feelings tapping into traumatic experiences. He allows the public to experience his vulnerability, shame, and chilling reality.
Augusten Burroughs concludes by showing his audience that he overcame his horrific situations and that he made something of himself even though living dangerously, “running with scissors” (Burroughs, 290). Indeed his life was awful but Running With Scissors shows us that people with dreadful beginning can still preserve. Once again I firmly propose, that you read this book with an open mind because the language and imagery can have a lasting impression.

Work Cited

Burroughs, Augusten. Running with Scissors. Picador, 2002. ( )
  EllizzaDias | Dec 17, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 276 (next | show all)
The book, which promotes visceral responses (of laughter, wincing, retching) on nearly every page, contains the kind of scenes that are often called harrowing but which are also plainly funny and rich with child's-eye details of adults who have gone off the rails.

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Augusten Burroughsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Leivo, ArtoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Look for the ridiculous in everything and you will find it.

Jules Renard
For Dennis Pilsits
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My mother is standing in front of the bathroom mirror smelling polished and ready; like Jean Nate, Dippity Do and the waxy sweetness of lipstick.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A memoir. A story told about a young boy's life living with his delusional mother, her unorthodox shrink, and his dysfunctional kids. A very interesting read!!!
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