As mentioned in earlier posts and book reviews, I love reading biographies and autobiographies. Some are inspiring (The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls), some are hysterically funny (anything by David Sedaris), some are humourously reminiscent (Baby Boom by P.J. O’Rourke), some are raunchy (How To Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran), some are informative (anything by the one of the Mitford sisters) and some are fascinating (The Bolter by Frances Osborne). After reading Augusten Burroughs’s New York Times best seller Running With Scissors, the most appropriate descriptive word I can come up with is astonishing.
Burroughs is the gay son ofÂ an alcoholic father and mentally unstable mother whose vicious fights resulted in an acrimonious divorce when he was eleven years old. This memoir covers his life from age twelve to sixteen. His mother abandons him to the care of her Svengali-like shrink and his eccentric family of equally unstable and weird individuals. Living in their run-down home, the boy descends from being an immaculate dresser who is obsessive about his appearance and surroundings to gradually morphing into a truant, dope-smoking, beer-drinking underage lover of the resident family pedophile.
This book is not for the squeamish or faint-of-heart. It describes child abuse in graphic yet incongruously humourous detail. The events defy believability, but like watching a road-side car accident, you’re drawn to the carnage. Burroughs’s writing style is similar to David Sedaris but his material is much darker. I enjoyed the parts where he describes his naive dreams of creating and running a beauty empire like Vidal Sassoon when he grows up.Â I read the book in a couple of days. It’s fast, funny and horrifying. If you think you can handle the rough stuff, then I highly recommend it. Burroughs is a talented and engaging writer.
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