Sunday, February 17, 2013
Reading Journal: Running with Scissors, by Augusten Burroughs (2002)
A creative non-fiction author who came onto the scene alongside the Three Funny Daves - Sedaris, Rakoff and Eggers - the cover of Burroughs's best-known book and several pages inside are plastered with superlative adjectives. I like his comparables, but for the lion's share of this book - about growing up (gay) in your mother's shrink's house, after she determines he'd raise you better than she would - I wasn't enjoying it. It's written in eight-to-ten-page episodes, and some are definitely more memorable than others, but beyond the inherent forward motion of a coming-of-age story, I didn't get behind any of the characters, so it just read like an "and then, and then," kind of list. I did enjoy the final three or four episodes, though, which are separated from each other by more time than successive chapters in the first part, and I think this is what revealed the book's weakness: a failure to select the best material. If Burroughs wanted a narrative, he could have only included those stories that kept us going somewhere - maybe like Eggers in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - or those that were the absolute funniest, like Sedaris in... well... pretty much everything he's written. I wanted to love Burroughs's work in the same way, but humour's kind of like that - it either strikes you or it doesn't. Wacky, wild upbringing, though; hard to imagine actually going through it.