by Augusten Burroughs
Audio Renaissance; UNABRIDGED edition, October 28, 2002
I started listening to Augusten Burrough's weird-ass childhood memoir, Running with Scissors a long time ago--sometime last winter, I think. After seeing the preview for the new movie version of it recently, I picked it back up. I'd only made it about an hour in the first time, to the point where Augusten has just met the Finches. So I was ill-prepared for how weird it was going to get.
Basically, young Augusten Burroughs is pawned off at the age of 12 on the family of his mother's shrink, a man who is, arguably, even more nuts than mom. Running with Scissors is his tale of his adolescence moving between life with his psychotic poet mother and life with the variously bizarre Finches. Burroughs' gift is clear, as he makes the story not just sad and absurd, but also hilarious. It's a very strange thing to finish the story and realize that you've been entertained by such a horrible tale, with abuses of power, several instances of rape, victimizing of the mentally ill, and the eating of dog food. You feel almost guilty for enjoying it, as Burroughs' assumedly lived through at least some version of it, but then you realize that enjoying it is exactly what he wanted you to do.
I'll admit it, I'm a convert. I already have Burroughs' other memoir, Dry, on order from the library. Mixing a Sedaris-only-funnier type of dark humor into memoirs of a truly strange life is my recipe for good audiobooks, and Burroughs' is among the best I've heard.
And I look forward to the movie.