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Running with Scissors    by Augusten Burroughs order for
Running with Scissors
by Augusten Burroughs
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Running with Scissors is a memoir - a memoir so off the wall, it is hard to believe it is non-fiction. Augusten Burroughs, given to live with his mother's shrink at the age of twelve, manages to survive to adulthood in what must be the most bizarre childhood on record.

Finch, the shrink, manages to spring Augusuten from attending school by having him fake a suicide. The boy spends most of his time with Finch's family - a family out of Tobacco Road with overtones of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Needing psychological help himself, the child watches his mother fly from one psychotic episode to another. He often fears for his life and that of his mother. He admits to being gay and is used by a pedophile.

In a short space such as this review, it is impossible to synopsize this memoir. One weird episode runs into another, unbelievably so. One cannot pick out a single period that is more outlandish than the next. But through this horrendous childhood, Augusten manages to keep his sense of humor afloat.

This is an incredible tale, written by a survivor. With candor and making no apologies, the author recounts his life as he lived it. The people who lived it with him seem like a collection of patients who have escaped from the asylum and are determined to live quickly and to the fullest before they are returned to the safety of their padded cells. Read Running with Scissors and then thank heaven for the sanity of your own childhood.

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