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Augusten Burroughs

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Augusten Burroughs
Writer
Running with Scissors, Dry
Burroughs and his partner Dennis Pilsits have been together since 1999; they share a home with their two bulldogs. Burroughs has written extensively about his sexual experiences and his love life.

Augusten Burroughs (b. Christopher Robison on October 23, 1965) is an American writer known for his New York Times bestselling memoir Running with Scissors (2002), which spawned a feature film of the same name.

Biography

Augustenburroughs2

Burroughs is the son of poet and writer Margaret Robison and the late John G. Robison, head of the philosophy department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His mother sent him to live with her psychiatrist's family in western Massachusetts.

His books are published by St. Martin's Press (hardcover) and Picador (trade paperback). Some of his childhood experiences were chronicled in Running with Scissors; the book spurred a June 2005 lawsuit in which the Turcotte family of Cambridge, Massachusetts, whom Burroughs had disguised and renamed the "Finch" family in the book. The Turcottes claimed that various family members -- particularly the late Dr. Rodolph Turcotte, Burroughs' former legal guardian -- were defamed by the book's portrayal of the eccentric Finch family. [1] The family recently settled with Sony over the film adaptation, which was written and directed by Ryan Murphy and stars Joseph Cross as Burroughs. [2] In August 2007, the Turcotte family settled with Burroughs, who was required to make word changes only in the memoir's front matter. [3]

Burroughs dropped out of school after sixth grade, and obtained a GED at age 17. He worked his way up to a high-paying job in the advertising industry before leaving the field to become a writer. His written work blends the fantastic and the mundane, and is delivered in a matter-of-fact style. In addition to Scissors, Burroughs penned a second memoir, Dry (2003), about his experience during and after treatment for alcoholism. That was followed by two collections of essays, Magical Thinking (2003) and Possible Side Effects (2006). His first book, the novel Sellevision (2000), is currently in production as a feature film. [4][5]

Burroughs' writing pokes fun at subjects such as advertising, psychiatrists, religious families, and home shopping networks. It has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, House & Garden, BlackBook Magazine, New York, The Times, Bark, Attitude, and Out. Burroughs writes a monthly column for Details.

In 2005, Universal Studios and Red Wagon Productions bought the rights to a film based on a future memoir about Burroughs' relationship with his father. In the summer of 2007, Burroughs announced on his website that this book, called A Wolf at the Table, will be released in May 2008.

He is developing an original, hour-long weekly series for the Showtime network.

Personal life

Burroughs lives with his partner, graphic artist Dennis Pilsits, and their French bulldogs, Bentley and the Cow. The couple share residences in New York City and western Massachusetts. [6]

Burroughs and Pilsits have been together since 1999. Burroughs wrote about meeting Pilsits in "My Last First Date", a chapter of his 2004 memoir Magical Thinking. (Quote coming...)

In 2003, Burroughs described his domestic life with Pilsits, contrasting it with his former life of alcoholism:

Quote1
Over the weekend, after the book tour, Dennis and I were in our house in Northampton, Mass., with our new 10-week-old puppy and our 1-year-old puppy. Dennis is in the kitchen cooking, the TV is on but it's muted, NPR is playing on the stereo, all the windows are open, it's breezy, and there are candles lit, and I was ready to weep with absolute bliss, for the mind-numbing happiness and simplicity of it. And I never could have appreciated that, never. It's absolutely wonderful. [7]
Quote2

Controversy

A January 2007 Vanity Fair article, "Ruthless With Scissors," alleged that Burroughs had fabricated large parts of his memoirs, including details about his "electro-shock therapy". The Turcotte family asserts that the machine Burroughs claims to have used on himself was actually an "Electrolux" brand vacuum cleaner. The family's lawsuit states that the book "falsely portrays" them as "an unhygienic and mentally unstable cult engaged in bizarre, and, at times, criminal activity. In so doing, the author, with the full complicity of the publisher, may have fabricated events that never happened and manufactured conversations that never occurred." [8]

Burroughs asserts that he kept numerous journals, beginning in early childhood, which substantiate the claims made in Running With Scissors. The Vanity Fair article states, "Neither the Turcotte family nor the lawyers representing them, [...] have seen Burroughs's journals. A request by letter to Burroughs from Vanity Fair urging him to produce the journals was never responded to." [9]

Burroughs and his publisher, St. Martin's Press, settled with the Turcotte family in August of 2007. The Turcottes were reportedly seeking damages of $2 million for invasion of privacy, defamation, and emotional distress; the Turcottes alleged Running with Scissors was largely fictional and written in a sensational manner. Burroughs defended his work as "entirely accurate", but agreed to call the work a "book" (instead of "memoirs") 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. [10]

Upon settling the Running With Scissors case in August 2007, Burroughs stated, "I consider this not only a personal victory but a victory for all memoirists. I still maintain that the book is an entirely accurate memoir, and that it was not fictionalized or sensationalized in any way. I did not embellish or invent elements. We had a very strong case because I had the truth on my side."

Future printings of Running with Scissors will contain the following language:

Where the Acknowledgments page had read: "Additionally, I would like to thank each and every member of a certain Massachusetts family for taking me into their home and accepting me as one of their own," the following was substituted: "Additionally, I would like to thank the real-life members of the family portrayed in this book for taking me into their home and accepting me as one of their own. I recognize that their memories of the events described in this book are different than my own. They are each fine, decent, and hard-working people. The book was not intended to hurt the family. Both my publisher and I regret any unintentional harm resulting from the publishing and marketing of Running with Scissors."

In addition, on the Author's Note page (but, as the family agreed, nowhere else) the word "book" replaced the word "memoir." The book is still described as a memoir on the cover, title page and elsewhere, per the family's agreement. [11]

Bibliography

  • Sellevision (2000)
  • Running with Scissors (2002)
  • Dry (2003)
  • Magical Thinking (2004)
  • Possible Side Effects (2006)
  • A Wolf at the Table (2008)

Notes

  1. Lawsuit targets 'Scissors' memoir
  2. "Family suing Running with Scissors author settles with Sony".
  3. "Burroughs Settles Lawsuit with Scissors Family", USA Today, Rodrique Ngowi. August 30, 2007.
  4. Sellevison
  5. In 'Sellevision,' expect silly, not satire
  6. Augusten Burroughs official site: "Bio".
  7. "Shaken and Stirred", Salon.com, Kera Bolonik. July 8, 2003.
  8. "Ruthless with Scissors", Vanity Fair, Buzz Bissinger. January 2007.
  9. "Ruthless with Scissors", Vanity Fair, Buzz Bissinger. January 2007.
  10. "Burroughs Settles Lawsuit with Scissors Family", USA Today, Rodrique Ngowi. August 30, 2007.
  11. "St. Martin's Press is pleased to announce a very favorable settlement of the lawsuit over Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs".

External links

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