Book – Running With Scissors
Author – Augusten Burroughs
Year – 2002
Genre – Memoir
Well this is a very strange book. It is a memoir of the childhood of author Augusten Burroughs, yet it is written in prose. It is a ridiculous culmination of events, not one of which sounds even remotely plausible, yet all completely true – as a failed court case by some of the featured characters showed. If I used up every ounce of creativity I had, I am not sure that I could ever make up the situation of the author.
A fastidious and overly clean child, his parents have an explosive relationship. His mother then starts to see a shrink, Dr Finch, a rather unorthadox psychiatrist who encourages the mad behaviour of his patients. Augusten then starts to live with this doctor and his family of children and patients who endulge in such games as destroying a ceiling to see what is up there and analysing poo in case it is a sign from God.
This is only scratching the surface of the weirdness of some of the stuff that happens in the book. But please don’t let any of that put you off, becuase this is one of the most charming and beautifully written books I have read in a long time. There are subtle knowing refences to how things will turn out for the author the whole way through. There is some shockingly honest revelations about himself, all done in a way that makes him massively likable and a hugely sympathetic figure. It is difficult to describe as I have never come across a book such as this, where an autobiographical account is delivered like a novel, but the overall effect is so charming, that I fail to see that anyone could not like it.
And this is reflected by the sheer number of superlatives that are all over the covers. Everyone and their dog has something nice to say about the book. And they are all right. It doens’t quite topple How To Talk To A Widower as the best new book that I have read this year, but it pushes it pretty hard.