February 14, 2017

Running With Scissors

by Augusten Burroughs

Bought this from Book Sale on a whim years ago, picked it up recently because I needed to read a title from the GR Humorous List for a book bingo I joined. Both instances, I wasn't aware that it's a memoir. When I started reading, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but I'm surprised now that I did. Boy, Augusten sure went through a LOT. That he injected humor into this memoir isn't easy, and I admire the guy for his resilience and strength.

Augusten Burroughs - but that wasn't his name then; he had it legally changed when he was able to - knew at a young age that he was gay. He was fond of fixing his hair a certain way, was interested in fashion early on, he wanted to be either a doctor (because of the white coat) or the owner of a chain of beauty shops, and so on. He was also the product of a dysfunctional family: his father never cared for him, his mother - a struggling poet - battled with anxiety and depression, and his older brother, who had Asperger's, also didn't give a f*ck. By the time his parents had separated and his mother had sole custody of him, he was certain of his sexual orientation and of another thing: he didn't like school and wanted to quit.

His mother also began seeing a shrink, Dr. Finch, whose ways were cavalier and bizarre, at best. Augusten's growing up years would be spent with Dr. Finch and his family, as the doctor would be later become his legal guardian. It is those years with the Finches that shaped Augusten's personality, opened his eyes to the harsh realities of the world, and made him who he is now. His life as an openly gay man began within the walls of the Finches' dirty and shoddy Victorian home, and his journey is long.

Most of the stories in the memoir were shocking to say the least, but Augusten attempts to make light of every situation by finding humor in it. Perhaps, it is how he views them now, in hindsight, but one can only imagine the horror of the things he went through. Between an absentee father, a mother who gave up legal guardianship over him to focus on the most important person in her life - herself, and the Finches and their unconventional ways, Augusten's future is one that should predictably get f*cked up. Amazingly, wonderfully, he survived.

These are those stories.

"I know exactly how that is. To love somebody who doesn’t deserve it. Because they are all you have. Because any attention is better than no attention."

Read in January 2017
Rating: ★★★★
Book Details: Trade paperback, pre-loved

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