Last week, my husband and I watched Running with Scissors. I know I have heard about it, but I didn’t remember anything I’d heard. Anyway, when I started watching it, I became aware it was based on a memoir by Augusten Burroughs. I know you probably think, “you must be kidding, you didn’t know that??” Well, no, I didn’t.
Watching this movie was a surreal experience. I could not believe this movie was based on a memoir. It was too “crazy.” The characters were so out-there I couldn’t believe they were based on reality. I was fascinated by a mother who would give her son to a psychiatrist to raise. And, not just any psychiatrist, but one that seemed crazier than she was. I was enthralled by this movie and I had to believe that the director must had taken great liberties with the book.
So, after the movie, I ran over to the library to get out the book. When I started the book, I couldn’t believe it. It matched the movie almost exactly (at least in the beginning). These people actually existed! Now, I have a doctorate in professional psychology and I still couldn’t fathom this story. The more I read, the more I was in awe.
Basically, this memoir of Augusten tells his story from tween to late teens. He details his parent’s divorce, his mother’s subsequent psychotic episodes, and his experiences with the Finch family (his mother’s psychiatrist). There is also a great deal of discussion about his first gay relationship with a 33-year-old man, also an adoptee of the Finch family.
After reading the book, I did think that the movie did it justice. There were some changes and a few ommissions, but the movie definitely captured the craziness of Augusten’s teen years. Although, the actor playing Augusten was a little old to be believable for the age he was suppossed to be. I found that very distracting in the movie.
As for the memoir, it read like a novel for young adults. I often had to remind myself that it was all based on Augusten’s real life. I am amazed that Augusten turned out okay and is now a successful writer. While I think living with the Finches was not a healthy way to grow up, they did teach some important lessons, even if they were taken to the extreme.
I would recommend both the book and the movie and found watching them in tandem to be an interesting experience.