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Running With Scissors

Running With Scissors

夹缝求生

Author
Burroughs, Augusten;  
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Biography & Autobiography > General
Biography & Autobiography > Literary
Social Science > Gay Studies
Publisher
St Martins Press
ISBN-13
9780312938857
ISBN-10
0312938853
Publish
2006-08
Pages
352
Unit
Size
17.14 * 2.54 * 11.43
Format
Paperback
Version

Product Description

RUNNING WITH SCISSORS is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. So at the age of twelve, Burroughs found himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor’s bizarre family, and befriending a pedophile who resided in the backyard shed. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year-round, where Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull, an electroshock therapy machine could provide entertainment. The funny, harrowing, and bestselling account of an ordinary boy’s survival under the most extraordinary circumstances…

 
Running with Scissors Acknowledgments
Gratitude doesn’t begin to describe it: Jennifer Enderlin, Christopher Schelling, John Murphy, Gregg Sullivan, Kim Cardascia, Michael Storrings, and everyone at St. Martin’s Press. Thank you: Lawrence David, Suzanne Finnamore, Robert Rodi, Bret Easton Ellis, Jon Pepoon, Lee Lodes, Jeff Soares, Kevin Weidenbacher, Lynda Pearson, Lona Walburn, Lori Greenburg, John DePretis, and Sheila Cobb. I would also like to express my appreciation to my mother and father for, no matter how inadvertently, giving me such a memorable childhood. Additionally, I would like to thank the real-life members of the family portrayed in this book for taking me into their home and accepting me as one of their own. I recognize that their memories of the events described in this book are different than my own. They are each fine, decent, and hard-working people. The book was not intended to hurt the family. Both my publisher and I regret any unintentional harm resulting from the publishing and marketing of Running with Scissors. Most of all, I would like to thank my brother for demonstrating, by example, the importance of being wholly unique.

About the Author

AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS is the author of Sellevision. He lives in New York City.

Amazon.com Review

There is a passage early in Augusten Burroughs's harrowing and highly entertaining memoir, Running with Scissors, that speaks volumes about the author. While going to the garbage dump with his father, young Augusten spots a chipped, glass-top coffee table that he longs to bring home. "I knew I could hide the chip by fanning a display of magazines on the surface, like in a doctor's office," he writes, "And it certainly wouldn't be dirty after I polished it with Windex for three hours." There were certainly numerous chips in the childhood Burroughs describes: an alcoholic father, an unstable mother who gives him up for adoption to her therapist, and an adolescence spent as part of the therapist's eccentric extended family, gobbling prescription meds and fooling around with both an old electroshock machine and a pedophile who lives in a shed out back. But just as he dreamed of doing with that old table, Burroughs employs a vigorous program of decoration and fervent polishing to a life that many would have simply thrown in a landfill. Despite her abandonment, he never gives up on his increasingly unbalanced mother. And rather than despair about his lot, he glamorizes it: planning a "beauty empire" and performing an a capella version of "You Light Up My Life" at a local mental ward. Burroughs's perspective achieves a crucial balance for a memoir: emotional but not self-involved, observant but not clinical, funny but not deliberately comic. And it's ultimately a feel-good story: as he steers through a challenging childhood, there's always a sense that Burroughs's survivor mentality will guide him through and that the coffee table will be salvaged after all. --John Moe --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"The most amazing book...hilarious, freaky-deaky, berserk, controlled, transcendent, touching, affectionate, vengeful, all-embracing. It makes you happy that there's such a thing in the world as a string of written words...a golden effervescence of invention and wit that stuns you with its audacity and beauty and powerful love of being alive. Running with Scissors, as a memoir in the current conventional sense, makes a good run at blowing every other contender out of the water." --The Washington Post

"Bawdy, outrageous, often hilarious...the anecdotes in Running with Scissors can be so flippant, and so insanely funny (quite literally), that the effect is that of a William Burroughs situation comedy." --The New York Times

"Running With Scissors is testament to the resilience of the human spirit. That he can stand aside as an impartial observer of it, even write with humor in spite of the tragedy around him, is astounding proof of our emotional survival skills...reads like David Sedaris writing "The Hotel New Hampshire." --The Boston Globe

'Twisted, freakish, unfathomably bizarre...Not only is it one of the funniest "coming of age" memoirs written, it's also the best of the genre since Paul Monette's "Becoming a Man."... It's literally breathtaking, and you may find yourself putting the book down occasionally to catch some air. But when you come back for more, Burroughs' brilliant writing and humor in the face of darkness catch you off guard...It will prove to be a lasting treasure, a gorgeously written true-life story destined to be cherished and quoted long after its last page is read. Best of all, by the book's end, it bravely stands as a life-affirming survival guide for all the misfits of the world." --The Tampa Tribune

"Running with Scissors is a cut above...screamingly funny...Two things make Burroughs' book so compelling: his wit and his depiction of the wild goings-on in this large, strange family...But the true source of Running with Scissors' appeal stems from Burroughs' ability to bring the 1970's alive...In the end, the book celebrates Burroughs' resilient, upbeat spirit, which helps him surmount one of the weirder childhoods on record." --USA TODAY

"Augusten Burroughs' memoir, Running With Scissors, is a surreal and entertaining trip through a young life most readers will thank God wasn't theirs...Burroughs never lets his readers forget that stuck in the middle of all the madness is a confused boy." --Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Shocking, sarcastic, humorous but never dull, the memoir has an effect similar to watching a car accident. You know you shouldn't gawk, but you simply can't turn away from the carnage." --Boston Herald

"He survived parental trauma, his mom's psychiatrist's house of horrors and, to bring the book into the here and now, an acquaintance with a pedophile...But Augusten Burroughs's memoir still makes you laugh, because it's as funny as it is twisted." --G.Q.

From the Back Cover

"OUTRAGEOUSLY AMUSING."
--Entertainment Weekly
"COMPELLING."
--
USA Today
"BREATHTAKING."
--Tampa Tribune

THINK YOUR CHILDHOOD WAS WEIRD?
ENTER THIS TWELVE-YEAR-OLD'S WACKY WORLD…

RUNNING WITH SCISSORS is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. So at the age of twelve, Burroughs found himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor's bizarre family, and befriending a pedophile who resided in the backyard shed. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year-round, where Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull, an electroshock therapy machine could provide entertainment. The funny, harrowing, and bestselling account of an ordinary boy's survival under the most extraordinary circumstances…

"Promotes visceral responses (of laughter, wincing, retching) on nearly every page...funny and rich with child's-eye details of adults who have gone off the rails."
--The New York Times Book Review

Visit: www.augusten.com

From AudioFile

When Augusten Burroughs was 12, his mother handed him over to live with her extravagantly loony psychiatrist, along with the doctor's own wife and children and a number of extremely addled patients, some of them predatory. In this shambles of a household everything was permitted, including Augusten and his foster sister's decision to tear out the kitchen ceiling one night and cut a large hole in the roof to let more light in, which no one then knew how to fix, so no one did. Burrough's account of his deranged adolescence there is clear-eyed and often wildly funny. To hear it not only in his own words, but in his own voice in this fine production is ideal. B.G. © AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"Bookman gave me attention. We would go for long walks and talk about all sorts of things. Like how awful the nuns were in his Catholic school when he was a kid and how you have to roll your lips over your teeth when you give a blowjob," writes Burroughs (Sellevision) about his affair, at age 13, with the 33-year-old son of his mother's psychiatrist. That his mother sent him to live with her shrink (who felt that the affair was good therapy for Burroughs) shows that this is not just another 1980s coming-of-age story. The son of a poet with a "wild mental imbalance" and a professor with a "pitch-black dark side," Burroughs is sent to live with Dr. Finch when his parents separate and his mother comes out as a lesbian. While life in the Finch household is often overwhelming (the doctor talks about masturbating to photos of Golda Meir while his wife rages about his adulterous behavior), Burroughs learns "your life [is] your own and no adult should be allowed to shape it for you." There are wonderful moments of paradoxical humor Burroughs, who accepts his homosexuality as a teen, rejects the squeaky-clean pop icon Anita Bryant because she was "tacky and classless" as well as some horrifying moments, as when one of Finch's daughters has a semi-breakdown and thinks that her cat has come back from the dead. Beautifully written with a finely tuned sense of style and wit the occasional clich‚ ("Life would be fabric-softener, tuna-salad-on-white, PTA-meeting normal") stands out anomalously this memoir of a nightmarish youth is both compulsively entertaining and tremendously provocative.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

It's hard to imagine a childhood more disturbing and relentlessly surreal than the one the author describes in this memoir. When his violent, nearly homicidal parents divorce, young Augusten lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with his mother, a confessional poet battling a mental illness that manifests itself in consuming self-absorption and psychotic episodes. Deciding she needs more space for personal exploration and art, Augusten's mother packs her 12-year-old son off to the home of psychiatrist Dr. Finch, a wildly eccentric egomaniac; most of this memoir centers on Augusten's teenage years spent in this uncontrolled, profoundly bizarre household. Luckily, Burroughs tempers the pathos with sharp, riotous humor in stories that are self-deprecating, raunchy, sexually explicit (14-year-old Augusten becomes lovers with Neil, a Finch family member 20 years his senior), scatological, grotesque, and deeply affecting. Edgier but reminiscent of Dave Eggers' Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000), this is a survival story readers won't forget. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Running with Scissors Acknowledgments
Gratitude doesn’t begin to describe it: Jennifer Enderlin, Christopher Schelling, John Murphy, Gregg Sullivan, Kim Cardascia, Michael Storrings, and everyone at St. Martin’s Press. Thank you: Lawrence David, Suzanne Finnamore, Robert Rodi, Bret Easton Ellis, Jon Pepoon, Lee Lodes, Jeff Soares, Kevin Weidenbacher, Lynda Pearson, Lona Walburn, Lori Greenburg, John DePretis, and Sheila Cobb. I would also like to express my appreciation to my mother and father for, no matter how inadvertently, giving me such a memorable childhood. Additionally, I would like to thank the real-life members of the family portrayed in this book for taking me into their home and accepting me as one of their own. I recognize that their memories of the events described in this book are different than my own. They are each fine, decent, and hard-working people. The book was not intended to hurt the family. Both my publisher and I regret any unintentional harm resulting from the publishing and marketing of Running with Scissors. Most of all, I would like to thank my brother for demonstrating, by example, the importance of being wholly unique.
 
Chapter One

Something Isn’t Right
 
My mother is standing in front of the bathroom mirror smelling polished and ready; like Jean Naté, Dippity Do and the waxy sweetness of lipstick. Her white, handgun-shaped blow-dryer is lying on top of the wicker clothes hamper, ticking as it cools. She stands back and smoothes her hands down the front of her swirling, psychedelic Pucci dress, biting the inside of her cheek.
 
“Damn it,” she says, “something isn’t right.”
 
Yesterday she went to the fancy Chopping Block salon in Amherst with its bubble skylights and ficus trees in chrome planters. Sebastian gave her a shag.
 
“That hateful Jane Fonda,” she says, fluffing her dark brown hair at the crown. “She makes it look so easy.” She pinches her sideburns into points that accentuate her cheekbones. People have always said she looks like a young Lauren Bacall, especially in the eyes.
 
I can’t stop staring at her feet, which she has slipped into treacherously tall red patent-leather pumps. Because she normally lives in sandals, it’s like she’s borrowed some other lady’s feet. Maybe her friend Lydia’s feet. Lydia has teased black hair, boyfriends and an above-ground pool. She wears high heels all the time, even when she’s just sitting out back by the pool in her white bikini, smoking menthol cigarettes and talking on her olive-green Princess telephone. My mother only wears fancy shoes when she’s going out, so I’ve come to associate them with a feeling of abandonment and dread.
 
I don’t want her to go. My umbilical cord is still attached and she’s pulling at it. I feel panicky.
 
I’m standing in the bathroom next to her because I need to be with her for as long as I can. Maybe she is going to Hartford, Connecticut. Or Bradley Field International Airport. I love the airport, the smell of jet fuel, flying south to visit my grandparents.
 
I love to fly.
 
When I grow up, I want to be the one who opens those cabinets above the seats, who gets to go into the small kitchen where everything fits together like a shiny silver puzzle. Plus, I like uniforms and I would get to wear one, along with a white shirt and a tie, even a tie-tack in the shape of airplane wings. I would get to serve peanuts in small foil packets and offer people small plastic cups of soda. “Would you like the whole can?” I would say. I love flying south to visit my grandparents and I’ve already memorized almost everything these flight attendants say. “Please make sure that you have extinguished all smoking materials and that your tray table is in its upright and locked position.” I wish I had a tray table in my bedroom and I wish I smoked, just so I could extinguish my smoking materials.
 
“Okay, I see what’s the matter,” my mother says. She turns to me and smiles. “Augusten, hand me that box, would you?”
 
Her long, frosted beige nail points to the box of Kotex maxi pads on the floor next to the toilet bowl. I grab the box and hand it to her.
 
She takes two pads from the box and sets it on the floor at her feet. I notice that the box is reflected in the side of her shoe, like a small TV. Carefully, she peels the paper strip off the back of one of the pads and slides it through the neck of her dress, placing it on top of her left shoulder. She smoothes the silk over the pad and puts another one on the right side. She stands back.
 
“What do you think of that!” she says. She is delighted with herself. It’s as if she has drawn a picture and placed it on her own internal refrigerator door.
 
“Neat,” I say.
 
“You have a very creative mother,” she says. “Instant shoulder pads.”
 
The blow-dryer continues to tick like a clock, counting down the seconds. Hot things do that. Sometimes when my father or mother comes home, I will go down and stand near the hood of the car to listen to it tick, moving my face in close to feel the heat.
 
“Are you coming upstairs with me?” she says. She takes her cigarette from the clamshell ashtray on the back of the toilet. My mother loves frozen baked stuffed clams, and she saves the shells to use as ashtrays, stashing them around the house.
 
I am fixated on the dryer. The vent holes on the side have hairs stuck in them, small hairs and white lint. What is lint? How does it find hair dryers and navels? “I’m coming.”
 
“Turn off the light,” she says as she walks away, creating a small whoosh that smells sweet and chemical. It makes me sad because it’s the smell she makes when she’s leaving.
 
“Okay,” I say. The orange light from the dehumidifier that sits next to the wicker laundry hamper is looking at me, and I look back at it. Normally it would terrify me, but because my mother is here, it is okay. Except she is walking fast, has already walked halfway across the family room floor, is almost at the fireplace, will be turning around the corner and heading up the stairs and then I will be alone in the dark bathroom with the dehumidifier eye, so I run. I run after her, certain that something is following me, chasing me, just about to catch me. I run past my mother, running up the stairs, using my legs and my hands, charging ahead on all fours. I make it to the top and look down at her.
 
She climbs the stairs slowly, deliberately, reminding me of an actress on the way to the stage to accept her Academy Award. Her eyes are trained on me, her smile all mine. “You run up those stairs just like Cream.”
 
Cream is our dog and we both love her. She is not my father’s dog or my older brother’s. She’s most of all not my older brother’s since he’s sixteen, seven years older than I, and he lives with roommates in Sunderland, a few miles away. He dropped out of high school because he said he was too smart to go and he hates our parents and he says he can’t stand to be here and they say they can’t control him, that he’s “out of control” and so I almost never see him. So Cream doesn’t belong to him at all. She is mine and my mother’s. She loves us most and we love her. We share her. I am just like Cream, the golden retriever my mother loves.
 
I smile back at her.
 
I don’t want her to leave.
 
Cream is sleeping by the door. She knows my mother is leaving and she doesn’t want her to go, either. Sometimes, I wrap aluminum foil around Cream’s middle, around her legs and her tail and then I walk her through the house on a leash. I like it when she’s shiny, like a star, like a guest on the Donnie and Marie Show.
 
Cream opens her eyes and watches my mother, her ears twitching, then she closes her eyes again and exhales heavily. She’s seven, but in dog years that makes her forty-nine. Cream is an old lady dog, so she’s tired and just wants to sleep.
 
In the kitchen my mother takes her keys off the table and throws them into her leather bag. I love her bag. Inside are papers and her wallet and cigarettes and at the bottom, where she never looks, there is loose change, loose mints, specks of tobacco from her cigarettes. Sometimes I bring the bag to my face, open it and inhale as deeply as I can.
 
“You’ll be long asleep by the time I come home,” she tells me. “So good night and I’ll see you in the morning.”
 
“Where are you going?” I ask her for the zillionth time.
 
“I’m going to give a reading in Northampton,” she tells me. “It’s a poetry reading at the Broadside Bookstore.”
 
My mother is a star. She is just like that lady on TV, Maude. She yells like Maude, she wears wildly colored gowns and long crocheted vests like Maude. She is just like Maude except my mother doesn’t have all those chins under her chins, all those loose expressions hanging off her face. My mother cackles when Maude is on. “I love Maude,” she says. My mother is a star like Maude.
 
“Will you sign autographs?”
 
She laughs. “I may sign some books.”
 
My mother is from Cairo, Georgia. This makes everything she says sound like it went through a curling iron. Other people sound flat to my ear; their words just hang in the air. But when my mother says something, the ends curl.
 
Where is my father?
 
“Where is your father?” my mother says...

From Library Journal

This memoir by Burroughs is certainly unique; among other adventures, he recounts how his mother's psychiatrist took her to a motel for therapy, while at home the kids chopped a hole in the roof to make the kitchen brighter. Not all craziness, though, this account reveals the feelings of sadness and dislocation this unusual upbringing brought upon Burroughs and his friends. His early family life was characterized by his parents' break-and-destroy fights, and after his parents separated, his mother practically abandoned Burroughs in hopes of achieving fame as a poet. At 12, he went to live with the family (and a few patients) of his mother's psychiatrist. At the doctor's home, children did as they wished: they skipped school, ate whatever they wanted, engaged in whatever sexual adventures came along, and trashed the house and everything in it, while the mother watched TV and occasionally dusted. Burroughs has written an entertaining yet horrifying account that isn't for the squeamish: the scatological content and explicit homosexual episodes may limit its appeal. Recommended for the adventurous seeking an unsettling experience among the grotesque. Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.