Augusten Burroughs in New York City, 2007
|Born||Christopher Richter Robison|
October 23, 1965
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
|Occupation||Screenwriter, memoirist, essayist.|
|Notable works||Running with Scissors (2002), A Wolf at the Table (2008)|
|Relatives||John Elder Robison (brother)|
Christopher Richter Robison was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the younger of two sons of poet Margaret Robison and John G. Robison, former head of the philosophy department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
He is eight years younger than his brother, fellow memoirist John Elder Robison. He was raised in various towns in Massachusetts, including Shutesbury, Amherst, and Northampton. His older brother had already escaped the unstable home before their parents divorced on 29 July 1978. His mother then sent the 12 year-old Christopher to live with the family of her psychiatrist, Dr. Rodolph Harvey Turcotte, whose ever-changing collection of children, adopted children and patients lived in a large ramshackle property in Northampton.
Robison's mother assigned legal guardianship to Turcotte, who believed that children became adults at 13. A few months after Robison moved in, Turcotte allowed him to drop out of sixth grade.
Education and writing career
Robison obtained a GED at age 17; at age 18, living on his own in Boston, he legally changed his name to Augusten Xon Burroughs. He later enrolled at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, Massachusetts, as a pre-med student, dropping out before the end of the first semester. He decided to settle in New York City and worked for a Manhattan-based advertising company. In 1996, he sought treatment for alcoholism at a rehabilitation center in Minnesota before returning to Manhattan.
In addition to Scissors, Burroughs penned a second memoir, Dry (2003), about his experience during and after treatment for alcoholism. It was followed by two collections of memoir essays, Magical Thinking (2003) and Possible Side Effects (2006). His first novel, Sellevision (2000), is currently in production as a feature film.
Burroughs' writing focuses on 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, New York, The Times, Bark, Attitude, and Out. Burroughs writes a monthly column for Details. Early in his career, he was a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.
In 2005, Universal Studios and Red Wagon Productions bought the rights to a film based on a then-unreleased memoir about Burroughs' relationship with his father. The book, called A Wolf at the Table, was released on 29 April 2008.
In October 2009, Burroughs released You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas, a book of short Christmas stories based on true events that occurred during his childhood.
In 2012, Burroughs released This Is How, a book of advice and memoirs.
In a January 2005 interview, reflecting on his life with his then partner, graphic designer Dennis Pilsits, Burroughs said paying tax should allow same-sex couples full legal entitlements:
That's what gay people need to be allowed to do – get married. Not have domestic partnerships; that's not acceptable. I don't believe for a moment [gay marriage] would destroy the sanctity of marriage. But let's just say for a moment that it does. Well, then the sanctity of marriage just has to be destroyed. It's just too bad. You can't have one set of benefits and only give them to some of the people.
Burroughs divides time between New York City and Amherst, Massachusetts. On 1 April 2013, Burroughs married his longtime agent and companion Christopher Schelling at New York City Hall in Staten Island.
Lawsuit over Running with Scissors
The family of Dr. Turcotte (who died in 2000), Burroughs' legal guardian when he was a child, were concerned about the depiction of the Finch family in Running with Scissors. In August 2007, Burroughs and his publisher, St. Martin's Press, settled with the Turcotte family, who stated that their presentation as the Finch family was largely fictional and written in a sensational manner. The Turcottes originally sought damages of $2 million for invasion of privacy, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Burroughs defended his work as "entirely accurate," but agreed to call the work a "book" (instead of "memoir") 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.
In August 2007, when the suit was settled, 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.
In October 2007, Burroughs further stated that he felt vindicated by the settlement:
I'm not at all sorry that I wrote it. And you know, the suit settled – it settled in my favor. I didn't change a word of the memoir, not one word of it. It's still a memoir, it's marketed as a memoir, [the Turcottes] agreed one hundred percent that it is a memoir.
Film and television
Running with Scissors was made into a film in 2006. It was directed by Ryan Murphy, produced by Brad Pitt, and starred Joseph Cross, Brian Cox, Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, and Evan Rachel Wood. Bening was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role.
Burroughs is currently writing the screenplay for two upcoming television series: he is working on a Showtime series based on his memoir, Dry, and writing a drama series for CBS titled The Nature of Fire, which follows a group of firefighters.
- 2000 – Sellevision (ISBN 0-312-26772-X) (fiction)
- 2002 – Running with Scissors (ISBN 0-312-28370-9)
- 2003 – Dry (ISBN 0-312-42379-9)
- 2004 – Magical Thinking (ISBN 0-312-31594-5)
- 2006 – Possible Side Effects (ISBN 0-312-31596-1)
- 2008 – A Wolf at the Table (ISBN 0-312-42827-8)
- 2009 – You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas (ISBN 0-312-34191-1)
- 2011 – Take Five: Four Favorite Essays Plus One Never-Been-Seen Essay (ISBN 1-429-95854-5)
- 2012 – This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike. (ISBN 9780312563554)
- 2016 – Lust & Wonder: A Memoir (ISBN 9780312342036)
- 2007 – Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's – John Elder Robison (ISBN 0-7393-5768-9) (foreword)
- "About – Augusten Burroughs". Augusten.com.
- "Augusten Burroughs and the art of memoir". CBS News. 27 January 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- "Christopher Schelling Augusten Burroughs". Weddings. The New York Times. 7 April 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- Espinoza, Galina (2002-09-23). "Pain Relief". People. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
- Stuever, Hank (30 July 2002). "Growing up truly absurd". The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
- "Sellevison". Hollywood.com. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- "In 'Sellevision,' expect silly, not satire". Sptimes.com. 5 January 2005. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- "Augusten Burroughs on Twitter". Twitter.com. 21 October 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
Dennis and I have split. It is painful. But we're talking, which we have not done enough of. For the dogs, it just means 2 sets of toys.
- "Steve Dow, Journalist". Stevedow.com.au. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- Bolonik, Kera (July 8, 2003). "Shaken and stirred". Salon.com. Archived from the original on September 10, 2009. Retrieved December 25, 2008.
- Burroughs, Augusten (May 26, 2013). "Losing a 'boyfriend' the best way possible". The New York Times. p. ST6.
- "25th annual Lambda Literary Award winners announced". LGBT Weekly. June 4, 2013. Archived from the original on June 10, 2013. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- "Ruthless with Scissors", Vanity Fair, Buzz Bissinger. January 2007.
- "Burroughs Settles Lawsuit with Scissors Family", USA Today, Rodrique Ngowi. August 30, 2007.
- Entertainment News – Latest Breaking Celebrity, Film, TV, Music and Movie News. Townhall.com (2007-08-30). Retrieved on 2016-11-22.
- Shankbone, David (October 12, 2007) Interview with Augusten Burroughs, Wikinews.
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