Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ruthless With Scissors

Vanity Fair has an article next issue about Augusten Burroughs and "Running With Scissors." They've spoken extensively with the family depicted in his memoir/book and they say Burroughs made up much of the most outrageous stories, as well as failing to properly shield their identities. In the wake of "A Million Little Pieces," I read "Scissors" and indeed found it pushing credibility a number of times, not to mention that the author at several points practically begs you to consider what he's saying isn't the simple truth but an exaggeration. Given the many caveats he's included in future books and reprints of "Scissors," this is clearly true, though the wacky circumstances surrounding the family he lived with also make clear the book wasn't created out of thin air. The piece isn't posted yet at VF, but you can find a detailed rundown of the Mark Foley Congressional page scandal, complete with links to his emails and IMs for people who want to get disgusted while reading every salacious word.


Anonymous said...

i've been trying for ages to figure out why everyone was so enamored of burroughs' books and essays, one more outrageous and incredulous than the next. also, not all that well written.

Steve Friess

altmike said...

Vindication! I was THROWN OUT of my book club for suggesting that this book should not be considered a work of non fiction (as it is originally listed by the NY TIMES) because Burroughs plainly stated that names and dates had been changed to protect the innocent. Excuse me? Names and dates aren't changed in works of non fiction. Now this is really good! It isn't a work of non fiction because...well...major parts of the book were made up! Perfect. (By the way the real reason I was thrown out of the book club was because I was caught reading the book covers, not the books themselves).

Michael in New York said...

I'll grant a certain mild amusement at some of the book, but Burroughs is no Sedaris (who makes clear his exaggeration upfront and puts his work in the humor section). And of course not just names and dates were changed but clearly entire plot points beg credulity. But dude, you've gotta read the books in a book club. Why did you just read the covers? Were you looking to socialize and then taken aback when people in the book club wanted to actually talk about books? But if you were gonna get tossed, slamming Burroughs was definitely the way to go.