LITERATURE: Running With Scissors – Truth in Memoir

It’s very rare that I check reviews on a book as I’m reading it, preferring to establish my own take on it and not be influenced by others. I’ve done it before, usually when I’m reading something that’s been hailed as the greatest thing since Shakespeare and I’m just not getting that from it. I can’t see slogging through the whole book or worse, tossing it aside unfinished, simply because I missed the point and would have enjoyed it had I understood what I was overlooking.

That said, I was at that point with Burrough’s story and doubted the truth of it. Googling it brought up a lawsuit by the family thinly disguised as the Finches protesting the reality as presented by Augusten Burroughs in this book.

Oddly enough, the item I found hard to believe was in fact true, that being Dr. Finch allowing his young daughter to go live with one of his older male patients. I found much about Dr. Finch to be sort of at the edge and in fact, he was subjected to loss of his license to practice for this very thing.

However, according to the family, Burroughs took creative license into the realm of hurtfulness and harm to the family by his accounting of his time spent with them. Some things are embellished, some are called outright lies.

I don’t like being taken for a fool; it’s one of the things I hate the most that people do to each other. That said, and some quick research into the acceptable boundaries of the definition in publishing terms of “memoir,” and I have decided to continue reading the book and take Burrough’s story with a grain of salt. He may be, in my opinion, an “unreliable narrator,” though this is not a term normally used in non-fiction. I’ll grant him his perception–which I’ve already been open-minded about, and label him mean at the worst if he’s colored his facts and characters unflatteringly simply for sensationalism.

Or toss the book if it goes too far.

(Note: The lawsuit was settled thusly:

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