I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.
Finished this on Tuesday, 9/13/16, but haven't had a chance to write up my review. As I mentioned in my review for John Elder Robison's recent book Switched On, finding out that Augusten Burroughs is Robison's younger brother is what spurred me into downloading Running With Scissors from my library's e-collection. By the time the events of RWS were taking place, Robison had been out of the house on his own for quite some time. With their eight-year age gap, the brothers for the most part appear to have had two distinct dysfunctional childhoods. I'll be learning more about Robison's dysfunctional childhood once I listen to Look Me in the Eye, which I already have in my
queue (after I finish Burroughs's "rehab" memoir Dry).
After his alcoholic, intermittently violent father and manic-depressive, narcissistic* mother divorce in 1978, his mother, deciding she cannot handle parenting, turns her
younger son over to her psychiatrist, who becomes his legal guardian. The word "unconventional" does not capture the psychiatrist's departures from medical, psychiatric, or even human orthodoxy. Dr. Finch has six children. The eldest daughter no longer lives there, while the others, plus two grandchildren, occupy a squalid home with little to no adult supervision, as well as some of Dr. Finch's psychiatric patients living in the house.
The Finches believe that one becomes an adult at age 13, and with that belief see no problem with young teens having sexual relationships with adults. One of the Finch kids, Natalie, introduces age-13 Augusten to a Finch patient/adopted-son, a 33-year-old man named Neil Bookman. He is the first gay man Augusten meets, and
shortly after their introduction, Augusten comes out to him. Bookman offers to be his friend/mentor, but soon he sexually assaults him, ostensibly to show him what it "means" to be a gay man. The two drift into a "relationship," despite a continued element of coersion interspersed with declarations of tenderness and need. The end of the relationship comes when Bookman takes off one night to buy film and never returns.
Additionally, Augusten is permitted to quit school at age 13 (earning his GED years later so that he can attend community college). The break from the Finches occurs when his mother has a moment of clarity and decides to disassociate from Finch.
There was some controversy surrounding this book when the family that inspired the Finches, the Turcottes, sued the book's publishers on the grounds that it contains fabrications and libelous claims. Although the book used fictionalized names, the family contended that readers were able to figure out their identity, and that the depiction of the Finches in the book caused the family members harm and distress. The publisher settled with the family and changed the word "memoir" to "book" in the introduction (though it is otherwise still referred to as a memoir). My take is that the author recounted events as he recalled them; it is not unexpected for others involved to remember differently and/or wish to not remember certain aspects that would be painful.
As mentioned above, I am currently listening to Dry by Burroughs and will be immediately going into John Elder Robison's Look Me in the Eye after that. I cannot seem to get enough of this family.
*Although Burroughs does not specify a diagnosis in Running With Scissors, in his subsequent memoir Dry, he refers to his mother as manic-depressive and narcissistic.