Monday, October 23, 2017

Happy Birthday to 'Running with Scissors' Author Augusten Burroughs

Augusten Burroughs was born today, October 23, in 1965. He is a writer known for his bestselling book, Running with Scissors.

Born Christopher Robison in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Burroughs was raised in Massachusetts, including the towns of Shutesbury, Amherst, and Northampton. His parents divorced on July 29, 1978, when Burroughs was 12, and he was adopted by his mother's psychiatrist, who resided in the Northampton area.

Robison dropped out of school after the sixth grade and obtained a GED at age 17. At age 18, he legally changed his name in Boston to Augusten Burroughs. He later enrolled at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, Massachusetts, as a pre-med student, dropping out before the end of the first semester. He decided to settle in New York City and worked for a Manhattan-based advertising company. In 1996, he sought treatment for alcoholism at a rehabilitation center in Minnesota before returning to Manhattan.

Some of his childhood experiences were chronicled in his book, Running with Scissorswhich was later made into a film.

In August 2007, Burroughs and his publisher, St. Martin's Press, settled a lawsuit with the Turcotte family, who stated that they were the basis for the Finch family portrayed in Running with Scissors. The Turcottes, who alleged that Running with Scissors was largely fictional and written in a sensational manner, sought damages of $2 million for invasion of privacy, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. 

Burroughs defended his work as "entirely accurate," but agreed to call the work a "book" (instead of "memoir") in the author's note, to alter the acknowledgments page in future editions to recognize the Turcotte family's conflicting memories of described events, and express regret for "any unintentional harm" to the Turcotte family. Burroughs felt vindicated by the settlement.

"I'm not at all sorry that I wrote it. And you know, the suit settled – it settled in my favor. I didn't change a word of the memoir, not one word of it. It's still a memoir, it's marketed as a memoir, [the Turcottes] agreed 100 percent that it is a memoir," said Burroughs.

In addition to Scissors, Burroughs penned a second memoir, Dry, about his experience during and after treatment for alcoholism. It was followed by two collections of memoir essays, Magical Thinking and Possible Side Effects. His first novel, Sellevision, is currently in production as a feature film.

In 2005, Universal Studios and Red Wagon Productions bought the rights to a film based on a then-unreleased memoir about Burroughs' relationship with his father. The book, called A Wolf at the Table, was released 2008.

In October 2009, Burroughs released You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas, a book of short Christmas stories based on true events that occurred during his childhood.

In 2012, Burroughs released This Is How: Surviving What You Think You Can't, a book of advice and memoirs.

His latest memoir is called Lust & Wonder, which takes up where Running With Scissors and Dry leave off

On April 1, 2013, Burroughs married his longtime agent and companion Christopher Schelling at New York City Hall in Staten Island. They currently live in Southbury, Conn.

1 comment:

Raybeard said...

I'd not heard of this chap until about 3 years ago when he was mentioned by Sean (Sassybear) @ 'Idle Eyes and a Dormy'. So I read 'Scissors' as well as 'Possible Side Effects' and really liked both. Still got some catching up to do.