Running with Scissors: A Memoir

Version: Unabridged
Author: Augusten Burroughs
Narrator: Augusten Burroughs
Genres: Biography & Memoir, Literature
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Published In: October 2002
# of Units: 7 CDs
Length: 9 hours
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Running with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of being Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her psychiatrist, a dead ringer for Santa and a lunatic in the bargain.

Suddenly, at age twelve, Augusten Burroughs found himself living in a dilapidated Victorian house in perfect squalor. The doctor's bizarre family, a few patients, and a pedophile living in the backyard shed completed the tableau. Here, there were no rules. There was no school. The Christmas tree stayed up until summer, and Valium was eaten like Pez. And when things got dull, there was always the vintage electroshock-therapy machine under the stairs...

Running with Scissors is at turns foul and harrowing, compelling and maniacally funny. But above all, it is a truly amazing chronicle of an ordinary boy's survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.

Reviews (53)

Running with Scissors

Written by Anonymous on February 20th, 2012

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Funny, sad, quirky.. an awesome read! The book held me captive.

Running w/ Scissors

Written by Anonymous on July 14th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 1/5

Probably the worse book I've ever listened to in 15 years. Not one redeeming character in the whole book. Sent it back before finishing it. Waste of time and $$

Running with Scissors

Written by Bobbie on November 4th, 2010

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I really loved this book. It kept my interest throughout and I loved that it was read by the author and main character. I couldn't wait to get in my car to continue the story of his life. Give it a try !

running with scissors

Written by Anonymous on March 5th, 2010

  • Book Rating: 1/5

very negative book, didnt even get through 2 CD's, found it boring and un-interesting.

Running with Scissors

Written by Reader19 from Yorkville, IL on December 6th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 1/5

Not worth listening to. I couldn't get through the 3rd CD. Terrible writing with inconsistencies in timelines and character development.


Written by Anonymous on June 18th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 2/5

I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. I had just heard a lot of positive reviews of this book and gave it a try. I guess I just don't get the humor in physical and psychological abuse. I guess there is something to be said of the quality of the writer, because despite my feelings I finished the book. I think I just kept waiting for something happy or redeeming to finish with... I never found it.

Running Amuck

Written by Mandi Scott Chestler on April 27th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 2/5

Another "memoir" about the childhood of the troubled gay son of a certifiably crazy mother. Did Augusten Burroughs' mother know David Sedaris' mom? While one feels like one shouldn't laugh, but does anyway, at Sedaris' stories, Burroughs' tale seems to run far amuck. His story is too seedy and tragic to be funny. Plus, he is absolutely over-the-top with several gross graphic sex scenes of what amounts to statutory rape by an adult gay man of a terribly misguided young boy.

Some weird s@*t

Written by Roger from Annandale, VA on December 8th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I hope, for the author/reader's sake, that some of this was fictionalized. Disconcerting throughout -- people really live like that? -- but very well written and a solid read.

Hilarious in a very bizarre way

Written by Anonymous from Richmond Hill, ON on October 17th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Is this actually a true story? I can't believe what a life this guy has lead. Interesting, hilarious, awkward and heartwarming all at the same time.


Written by kuka on June 26th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I usually do not like reading memoirs but I added this one to my rental shelf because it had a high rating and good reviews. I thought this book was laugh-out-loud funny. I also thought Burroughs did a great job reading it; he really brought the characters to life.

Author Details

Author Details

Burroughs, Augusten

Augusten Burroughs was born in 1965. He has no formal education beyond elementary school. A very successful advertising copywriter for over seventeen years, Burroughs was also an alcoholic who nearly drank himself to death in 1999. But spurned by a compulsion he did not understand, Burroughs began to write a novel. Never outlining or consciously structuring the book, Burroughs wrote, "as fast as I could type, to keep up." Seven days later, Augusten Burroughs had written his first book. He had also stopped drinking. The book was published one year layer. Burroughs remains sober to this day. And Sellevision stands as Burroughs's only published novel. It is currently in development as a feature film.

Augusten's second book was a memoir. It was also a publishing phenomenon that helped to ignite a kind of memoir fever in America and abroad. Running with Scissors was released in 2001 to virtually unanimous critical acclaim. The memoir would ultimately remain on the New York Times bestseller list for over four consecutive years, eight months of which were spent in the #1 position. The film, starring Annette Benning, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jill Clayburgh and Alec Baldwin was released in 2005.

He has since published four additional autobiographical volumes (Dry, Possible Side Effects, Magical Thinking and A Wolf at the Table), all of them bestsellers. Currently published in over thirty countries, Augusten's book readings have become massively popular events on numerous continents. He has also headlined for the most prestigious literary festivals in the world, most recently the 2008 Melbourne writer's Festival, where he and Germaine Greer delivered the keynote addresses on opening night. In addition, Burroughs speaks regularly at colleges and universities on topics ranging from alcoholism and sexual abuse to the art of authoring one's own life and humor as serious medicine.

Twice honored by Entertainment Weekly as one of 25 funniest people in America, Burroughs shocked fans and the media alike with the release of A Wolf at the Table in early 2008. The brutal, terrifying and decidedly unfunny book instantly generated a storm of publicity and controversy. Critics were deeply divided, and the book received some of the worst -and best- reviews of the author's career. The book tour for A Wolf at the Table, spanned some six months and four countries, as Augusten performed for the largest crowds of his career. A Wolf at the Table is Augusten's bestselling hardcover to date.

While critics continue to challenge the veracity of Burroughs's books, questioning everything from his alcoholism and advertising career to his earliest childhood memories, the author remains nonplussed, even philosophical. "To be a journalist with a major American newspaper or magazine, you have to have an A-list college education. And to get into that A-list college, you had to do very well in the right high school. So the chances are, you were not being fucked up the ass at age twelve by a pedophile. The facts of my life are generally questioned by extremely privileged and well-educated people who, more likely than not, learned most of what they know about life's dangerous, shocking and sometimes unbelievable underbelly from books, television and the occasional Quentin Tarrantino film. The reason my books continue to sell, despite frequently being dismissed as "unbelievable," is because the people who read my books recognize the truth that is in them. They know the scent. They have smelled it. The very details the media view with such suspicion are the same details that prove to my reader, this guy was there. I remember that, too."

Burroughs may always be a controversial writer. But there is one aspect of his life that will never be questioned -his low-key lifestyle. The author almost never engages in the kinds of activities that make many aspiring writer's seek publication and fame in the first place. While his name may end up in the tabloids, his face does not. Burroughs "almost never" attends book parties, movie premiers and restaurant openings. These Manhattan literary mainstays hold little appeal for the author. "The day I am photographed walking out of whatever it restaurant happens to be it at the moment is the day you should drag me by my Gucci jacket out behind the barn and shoot me in the head." Burroughs explains his reluctance to embrace the celebrity-author lifestyle. "I love movies and I love restaurants and I also love parties. And I do all this stuff. But I don't do it when and where and because I know I'll be seen and especially photographed." Burroughs also rarely appears on American television, preferring to meet his readers face-to-face. "And that's what I hate about TV. They can see you but you can't see them. I get enough of that with the books themselves."

Augusten Burroughs and his partner Dennis live with their two French Bulldogs, Bentley and The Cow in Western Massachusetts and New York City. Burroughs is working on his next book.