Sunday, January 7, 2007

Running with Scissors: A Nice Break

So. I haven't given up completely on Against the Day. Once I announced that I wanted to drop the book like a hot rock, the plot came back into action. I like the sections where the Chums (boys in a balloon) fight with each other over ridiculous adolescent shit, faux spy intrigue, and I like the out-West portions with lost sons and fathers. I also like the sections of the novel devoted to the noirish detective, Lew. So I've forged ahead. I'll just speed read the parts that confuse me (a habit created and honed in graduate school) and sink my mental teeth into the parts where I get gription.

In the meantime, I've started to read Augusten Burrough's Running with Scissors as comic relief. (Thanks, Kyle, for the great Christmas present!) It's fun, intellectually nonconfrontational, and vaguely reminiscient of one of my faves (who I recently misnamed, whoops, in a previous post), David Sedaris. Both B and S are borderline obsessive compulsives, gay from the cradle, with crazy family situations, notably the mothers. Both B and S seem to cure themselves, partially, with cigarettes. Both have very tenuous relationships to established authorities (schools). Both write wryly and yet fondly of their childhood "abuse."

I have to confess that I like S about 25% more than I like B. Why? B is not as anally obsessed as S. I like a good anal obsession.


Anonymous said...

There was an interesting article in the Jan 2007 "Vanity Fair" about Augusten Burroughs ("Ruthless with Scissors") and how his book had such a painful effect on the family he wrote about. They accuse him of embellishing and fabricating things, a la James Frey.

Laurie Mac said...

I think I remember reading a little blurb in Entertainment Weekly that the family is suing AB for the book. I'll have to see if I can find that article. It seems that memoir writing (at least publishing) is a risky business. Would AB's book have sold as a novel? Why are we (the American reading public) so hepped on memoirs these days, anyway?

Anonymous said...

From the Author's Note in Michael Perry's new memoir, "Truck: A Love Story": "A man for whom I have great respect once told me that the power of nonfiction resides in trust--once the reader no longer trusts the writer, that power is lost." He then goes on to detail what changes in detail he made and what documents he used to verify his memories. Did the publisher make him do that? Will all memoirists be running scared from now on? I guess maybe we all love memoirs because we have that shiver of terror that this ACTUALLY HAPPENED but the relief that it didn't ACTUALLY HAPPEN to me--

Laurie Mac said...

Damn. Memory is the best fiction writer I know. No one's memory can be "trusted." Maybe I should just call my memoir fiction and be done with it. Unless of course that means that no one would ever read it. I get that shiver from fiction as well as nonfiction. In fact, fiction is often more vivid and affecting, 360 degree view, than nonfiction, which tends to flatten itself out.