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  • Augusten Burroughs.
  • Running with Scissors.
  • family disfunction.
  • befriending a pedophile.
  • Burroughs found himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor's bizarre family.
  • Imported from USA.

There is a passage early in Augusten Burroughs's harrowing and
highly entertaining memoir, Running with Scissors, that speaks
volumes about the author. While going to the garbage dump with
his father, young Augusten spots a chipped, glass-top coffee
table that he longs to bring home. "I knew I could hide the chip
by fanning a display of magazines on the surface, like in a
doctor's office," he writes, "And it certainly wouldn't be dirty
after I polished it with Windex for three hours." There were
certainly numerous chips in the childhood Burroughs describes: an
alcoholic father, an unstable mother who gives him up for
adoption to her therapist, and an adolescence spent as part of
the therapist's eccentric extended family, gobbling prescription
meds and fooling around with both an old electroshock machine and
a pedophile who lives in a shed out back. But just as he dreamed
of doing with that old table, Burroughs employs a vigorous
program of decoration and fervent polishing to a life that many
would have simply thrown in a landfill. Despite her abandonment,
he never gives up on his increasingly unbalanced mother. And
rather than despair about his lot, he glamorizes it: planning a
"beauty empire" and performing an a capella version of "You Light
Up My Life" at a local mental ward. Burroughs's perspective
achieves a crucial balance for a memoir: emotional but not
self-involved, observant but not clinical, funny but not
deliberately comic. And it's ultimately a feel-good story: as he
steers through a challenging childhood, there's always a sense
that Burroughs's survivor mentality will guide him through and
that the coffee table will be salvaged after all. --John Moe

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