Book Review: “Running with Scissors” by Augusten Burroughs

This book is a hilarious and yet sad account of one’s treacherous childhood by Augusten Burroughs. My first impression after listening to this audio book was that this whole thing was probably made up. What parents of a right mind would do such a thing to a child? But the author’s parents were not normal. The father is a alcoholic professor and the mother is just not well – a bit nutty that eventually became a lesbian and then turned against her own psychiatrist, accusing him of making sexual advance against her (probably true in my opinion). Growing up in a combative family (between the parents), the author described his childhood as a life of anarchy when he was abandoned to his mother’s psychiatrist. The life in this psychiatrist’s family was truly an adventure. He discovered his own homosexuality and encountered his first sexual experience with the guy, a patient of the psychiatric in the back house. His relationship with his “step” sister was very interesting – performing singing show in the prison, walking on the ledge under the waterfall, and etc. He was able to adjust quite well.

Once again I’m amazed by how resilient a child can be in reacting to upheavals in life. The author had to face the abandonment of his mother and his father and be left a in nut house – the psychiatrist’s family, consists of members of the oddest characters. At the same time, he was growing up discovering his own homosexuality and fending off advance from a sexual predictor in the back house.

After hearing this story, one cannot help to be cynical of the psychiatric profession. The practices sounds a bit like a snake medicine, if having the curing effect at all to be called medicine. The psychiatrist’s casual use of valium and other drug is rather unethical. I honestly don’t know how frequent this is happening or this is simply an isolated incidence.

The audio book has very graphic homosexual language/description but the narration overall was excellent. It’s like listening to a story being told by the author as if the events are taking place.

Of all the characters in the story, it’s very hard to tell who is really crazy. Is craziness a symptom of exhibiting an abnormal behavior or simply not appearing credible. Some of the most credible people (like the psychiatrist) may be crazy themselves. The gunman of the Virginia Tech massacre may have exhibited the “normal” behavior with a “craziness” hidden deep inside until it blows up.

I enjoyed this audio book. The title of the book says it all – running with scissors. Seeing others running with scissors is something to behold but not to experience yourself.

200px-running-with-scissors.jpg
200px-running_with_scissors.jpg