Augusten Burrough’s first memoir, Running With Scissors is a paradox. The novel is filled to the brim with the awfulness and horrors of modern life. Pedophilia, excessive drug use, child abuse, rape, animal cruelty, exploitation, abandonment, sexual deviancy, coprophilia, mental illness, and manipulation all have their place in this novel. But somehow, despite all of this dreadfulness and misery, Augusten’s story is heart wrenchingly hilarious. The entire novel is filled with hope and laughs. Any sort of pity for Augustus is always followed by at least a chuckle. And despite all of the abuse, very little of it is done with intentional cruelty. At no time is this book ever boring, it’s simply (or not so simply) intelligently crafted entertainment. But then again, I’m a rubber-necker at train wrecks.
After his insane mom and deadbeat, alcoholic father get divorced, Augusten is sent to live with his mother’s psychiatrist, Dr. Finch. Living at the Finch’s dilapidated home are a host of Dr. Finch’s patients, children, and “wives”, all providing Augusten with varying degrees of hopefulness and despair. By the end of the novel Burroughs discovers that during adolescence, without an adult around to tell you what not to do, freedom is just like being trapped.
Basically, Burroughs has created a wonderfully entertaining novel. I’d recommend this to everyone but my Grandma. Now, if you’ll excuse I’m gonna go perform some bible dips.
“Your father. That room of his. He doesn’t really… it’s not his Masturbatorium, is it?”
Hope shrugged. “Probably, yeah.”
“That’s so disgusting,” I said.
“What’s disgusting about it? Don’t you masturbate?”
“I said, don’t you masturbate?” She looked at me with her head tilted slightly to the side, waiting for my answer. As if she’d merely asked me the time.
“Well, it’s different. It’s not… I don’t know.”
“How is it different?” She was strangely intense.
“I’m not a doctor.”
“What? You don’t think doctors masturbate?”
“That’s not what I mean. I just mean it’s weird to have a room. You know, a Masturbatorium or whatever.”
“I don’t think it’s so weird,” Hope shrugged.
“So you’re not married because you’re waiting for a guy with a Masturbatorium?” I asked.
I tried to recall if I shook his hand when I saw him. I couldn’t remember so I said, “Nature calls,” and excused myself to the bathroom to scrub my hands in scalding hot water.