Thursday, October 19, 2006

Who is the Mother Vilified in RUNNING WITH SCISSORS?

I've been away from the blog a few days, but have wanted to publish a link to this story that first ran on NPR's "All Things Considered" on October 8:

Who is Margaret Robison?: In literature there are few mothers as monstrous as the one in the memoir Running with Scissors. Augusten Burroughs writes of his mother [Margaret Robison] as a women so cold and self-absorbed that she gives away her young son to her psychiatrist. Now a film version is about to be released in theaters with Annette Bening as the mother.

Read Beth's review of RUNNING WITH SCISSORS.

At his reading at the Southern Festival of Books, renowned historian John Hope Franklin drew a clear distinction between autobiography and memoir (in brief, for a true autobiography, all recollections must be scrutinized and supported through historical research). I wonder what he would make of Burroughs' narrative, which according to this radio story, has been the subject of lawsuits by the family of the psychiatrist who adopted Burroughs.

I hope that questions about the veracity of memoirs like Running with Scissors do not discourage men and women who were abused and neglected as children from sharing their stories in print. What responsibilities do such authors have when recounting a disputed past?

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