By December 5, 2006 1 Comments Read More →

Bissinger vs. Burroughs

Ah, memories. Remember when James Frey (A Million Little Pieces, My Friend Leonard) was carried through the streets of New York on the shoulders of an adoring crowd, then crowned King of the Memoir by a teary Patricia Hampl (I Could Tell You Stories)–only to be later chased to the docks, dodging a bombardment of soggy vegetables, by a reading public outraged at being duped yet again?

Well, I don’t remember that, either, but I’m not going to let that stop me from including the above scenes in my memoir, I Remember Reading.

Anyway, apparently Buzz Bissinger (Three Nights in August) is attacking Augusten Burroughs for the paucity of fact (or the oversupply of truthiness) informing Running with Scissors (you know, that book that everybody, probably even you, suddenly seems to be reading on the bus).

The full story will appear in Vanity Fair next week, but Bissinger was kind enough to give the Boston Globe a sneak preview:

“I don’t know how [Burroughs] lives with himself,” Bissinger told us yesterday. ” ‘ Running With Scissors’ contains little strands of fact that were wildly embellished, and if you take those away, you don’t have much of a book.”

Bissinger thinks that Burroughs “betrayed” the Turcottes, the family Burroughs’ story is based on.

“They took him in and did their best, and he turned around and wrote about them in the most vile way possible,” he said. “It’s totally gratuitous.”

The Turcottes are, natch, suing Burroughs for defamation.

I was about to call this “a good, old-fashioned literary dust-up,” but the possibility that Burroughs is actually defaming well-intentioned people takes a little bit of the fun out of it. I guess I’ll just have to relish the Bissinger vs. Burroughs bout and hope that our legal system protects the innocent and punishes the guilty, whoever they might be.

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About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

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