I read Augusten Burroughs book, "Running with Scissors" when it came out in 2002 and was excited to see that it was being made into a movie. The movie opened in selected theaters this past week-end and will hopefully be opening in Duluth this coming week-end for the wider release.
Augusten Burroughs grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts a town that I lived in until recently relocating to Duluth.Â Â His father was a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; my employer for many years.Â So, I was curious enough to read this book when it was first published.Â Â I loved the clever name of the book and the original jacket design (kid with a box over his head).Â Â The book captivated me and I read it in a couple of days occasionally subjecting my husband to out loud re-reading of hilarious excerpts.Â I have a penchant for dark, irreverant humor and sharp observation and found the book to be highly entertaining.
I found that there was something of a "John Irving-esque" sensibilitiy to Burroughs story telling, but his timeline resonated more with me; having grown up in the crazy 1970's and early 80's when society was trying to redefine itself to include newly liberated womenÂ -- an important element in Burroughs' story.
Burroughs himself is controversial and an enigma, but perhaps we should allow him that if he managed to survive even a sampling of the events in this loosely based memoir.Â Â Â He is currently being sued by the family he writes about (he uses a fictional name, but the family states that it's no secret that it's them), his real mother denies she knows Augusten Burroughs (he did actually change his name) and some think that he went a little too far in his memoir.Â Â I am glad that he braved what can sometimes be crippling criticism to tell his story, even if some of it is fictional.Â Â I think his story has been cathartic to many.
So what's the Duluth connection?Â Â In his second novel "Dry", Borroughs' writes about his struggle with alcohol and his time at a "gay rehab center" in Duluth, Minnesota.Â Â I don't recall that he ever mentions the exact name of the center; but his arrival in Duluth and the bleak surroundings of the rehab center feature prominently in one chapter. Â Duluth is also where he receives the treatment that ultimately helps him find his sobriety, this being truth and not fiction.
Burroughs endured a lot during his childhood and "lived" to write about it.Â "Running with Scissors" is full of dark humor and sometimes shocking behavior by adults.Â If the movie is anything like the book, you should be prepared to laugh and be horrified at the same time.Â Â
If you do go, please write a review for Duluth Life!
In 2003 MPR's Heather McElhatton reports on Â Truth vs. Fiction in Augusten Burroughs' memoir, "Dry"
Kat Eldred, Minnesota Public Radio duluth.gather.com Host