Sunday, February 27, 2011

Book Review: Running With Scissors

Book 1/25 in the 2011 Reading Challenge.  Date completed: January 20, 2011.

Running With Scissors is a memoir of Augusten Burroughs' zany childhood.  I gave a Goodreads rating of five stars to this book as I absolutely loved it and couldn't put it down.  I wasn't sure I'd be crazy about it when my friend recommended it to me but she was quite insistent that I absolutely must read it.  She was also careful to mention that it wasn't everybody's "cup of tea" and that it was quite vulgar and at times offensive and disturbing.  I tend to think that my "cup of tea" is not typical so that wasn't really an issue.  I think more than anything, my issue with reading this one was that I didn't feel like it was the type of book I was looking for at the time.  I was WRONG!  This book was exactly what I needed.

Augusten Burroughs is the gay son of a poet with some psychological troubles and an alcoholic.  Running With Scissors follows the relationship between Augusten and his mother during her divorce and a series of psychotic episodes.  She spends hours upon hours with her unconventional psychiatrist and eventually gives him custody of Augusten.  The psychiatrist - Dr. Finch, his wife - Agnes, his daughters - Hope and Natalie, and his adopted son - Neil, among the various other characters are all extremely interesting and entertaining.  They all live in a filthy, run-down old Victorian, which is not at all what Augusten had expected from a glamorous professional like a doctor. The whole family is really quirky and some of the things that they do are so ridiculous that I found myself wondering how it was even possible that this could be a true story.  And then other times, I'd read things and laugh uncontrollably, only to remind myself that it actually happened...  And then feel guilty.

If you're not easily offended, I would absolutely recommend reading this one.  The movie, starring Annette Bening (who was superb) and Alec Baldwin as Augusten's parents, was disappointing.  Definitely read the book first, otherwise you'll be confused.

The story line wasn't followed as well as I'd have preferred, which is generally my chief complaint in book-to-film conversions, but I think in the case of Running With Scissors, there should not have been a lot of difficulty sticking to the book.  The movie could have been perfect!  I mean, obviously some of the more risque parts would need some censoring, but as a whole, this book had the potential to be a fantastic movie.  I didn't think it was casted perfectly, and because I watched it within a week of finishing the book, I noticed all of the minor details that weren't true to the book - like how Hope (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) was a brunette according to the book.  And how Natalie (played by Evan Rachel Wood) was supposed to be a bit overweight.  These changes bothered me and left me wondering how much of the film was accurate to the real story of Augusten Burroughs.  I wondered so much, in fact, that I Googled it and found the lawsuit filed against Augusten by the Turcotte family.  I was in a Google-frenzy over the whole thing for an entire evening.  Don't get me started!

Anyways, long story short...  I loved this book.

Happy reading :)


  1. I have it on my to read list because I have heard so much about it. I am up in the air about actually reading it though because it doesn't seem entertaining enough. However, your review is changing my mind on that. It sounds like it could be very entertaining. I didn't know it was a movie and I totally thought that the dude with the stache was Nicholas Cage. HaHa

  2. Kristin, you've gotta read it! I seriously could not put it down at all. I read it in like a week. It was great. I was hesitant at first too but it was better than I could have ever predicted. Don't watch the movie till you read the book! He does look kind of like Nicholas Cage LOL! It's actually Joseph Fiennes, who plays Neil Bookman. :) His departure in the book was COMPLETELY different than his departure in the movie, which also disappointed me, BTW. In case you wondered. ;)

  3. This is one of my favorite Augusten Burroughs books! :)


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