Anyone reading “Running With Scissors,” may ask – what IS this guy really like? With Augusten Burroughs, what we read is what we get. Like his writing, Augusten Burroughs is hilarious – no surprise there – yet also complex, generous, curious, down-to-earth, obsessed with gemology and rare diseases. No-holds-barred. No subject off-limits. He’s everything we’d all like to be, if we removed the mask we present to the world.
His insistence on revealing all, even excruciating details that we ourselves may share but keep hidden, is what his fans, including me, love about him.
Over the past week, when not laughing uncontrollably, I’ve gathered a few “Augustenisms,” on everything from his failed novels to his drunken (also failed) assaults on rodents with RAID and flashlights in his bathtub. I’ll see him again Saturday night – stay tuned.
* “I wrote two novels that were horrible. So bad that, finished as a writer, I was looking into barbering schools in Tribeca. Then I went back to memoir, and boom – I had a book.”
* “I like reading on phones and tablets. Nobody knows what you’re reading. It may be “Fabulous Orgasms after Sixty,” or “I don’t love my child…am I the only one?”
* Don’t write slang, easy words or cliches – ‘great’ ‘awesome’ ‘wonderful’ – ‘horrible,’ though it applies to almost everything I think and do, horrible is a horrible word to write. It’s the elastic jeans of word choices.
* “I may start every sentence with Oh my God, like everybody else. But I hate up-speak. It started in California and spread like Herpes. – ‘We’re gonna declare, like, war? or ‘you’re so, like, under arrest?'”
* I’m not afraid to be me – to make a fool of myself, mess up a presentation, without pretending. People are on your side, but not if you’re fake.”
* “Everyone wants more confidence. But how to get it? You can’t go to the doctor and have your confidence level checked. Just focus on what you’re trying to say or do, not how you look while saying it.”
* “While everyone else is out jet-skiing, I really like to sit alone in my room and write. Sometimes I go out and say, ‘oh, it is nice out here,’ then I get back inside.”
“I don’t regret things I’ve written, but I regret things I’ve done – like spraying RAID at a mouse in my bathtub, and when that didn’t work, blasting a flashlight at it to cause epileptic shock. I was a drunk and a wreck.”
* “I never say – that’s too ugly to write. Whatever I’m most afraid of is the thing I should write about. Writing about my Dad was terrifying and emotional, but I never thought my mind would explode. Writing won’t make you insane, or kill you.”
* “Become able to see what’s true and not what you wish were true.”
* The great thing about writing is that it doesn’t age – you’re never to old to to it.”