Friday, June 09, 2006

Bookshelf: RUNNING WITH SCISSORS

Lately, I've been listening to audiobooks more and more. Maybe it's because I've discovered it's fun to take in a story during a morning walk. Or maybe it's because my eyes have been fixed on a computer screen for most of the day and I tend to fall asleep within five minutes if I try to read before beddy-bye time most nights. What I really know for certain is that listening to a book is a great way to pass time on an airplane.

I'm also discovering that there are definite types of books that work best for me in the audio format. I don't enjoy listening to fiction as much as literally *reading* it, so audio books are allowing me to delve more into the non-fiction and memoir realms (and I'm referring to non-research non-fiction,which I do read quite often for my own books).

I just finished a great memoir. It was hilarious and tragic all at the same time. It was lighthearted and pathetic, too. It's a book that a lot of people could very well hate because it offers so many gritty details about a teen growing up in a vacuum of insanity. It's called RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, and it might not be for everyone.

SOME SPOILERS HERE: When the memoir first starts, we're introduced to Augusten Burroughs by way of his mother, Deirdre. She comes off as one of those pseudo-nutty Ya-Ya Southern women who revels in her eccentricity. Little by little, we find out that this lady truly is mentally deficient and even abusive. Burroughs somehow balances truly funny stories with the growing menace of his mother, so as a reader, I was kept off balance for most of the book. I was also fascinated, especially when Deirdre casually drops her son off at her psychiatrist's house. Here, Dr. Finch reigns over all, and he is sick, too; while it's tempting to take his superficial Santa-Claus-crazy at face value, there's an underlying cruel carelessness about Dr. Finch that extends far beyond his family to affect everyone he comes into contact with. He's a virus.

What happens to Augusten is shocking, yet he relates the anecdotes like he's Alice dropped down the Rabbit Hole. But this is clearly the only way he can cope; this memoir seems like therapy for him. Reading RUNNING WITH SCISSORS is a unique experience--not exactly a fun one, but you'll be thinking about the book after you "read" the last page.

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