The defamation lawsuit filed against St. Martin’s Press and Augusten Burroughs by the Turcotte family for the author’s characterization of
the clan in his bestselling memoir Running With Scissors has been settled.
According to terms of the settlement, the author’s note will now refer to the work as a “book” instead of a “memoir.” It will still be called a “memoir” on the cover though. And the acknowledgments page will change: instead of merely thanking the “Massachusetts family” portrayed,
Burroughs will, in future copies, acknowledge that the family members
portrayed recall the past differently and that both he and St. Martin’s
“regret any unintentional harm” caused by the book’s publication.
Oh yeah, this was all very worthwhile; just the next chapter in the never ending saga of Memoirists-Versus-Oprah with the likes of Augusten Burroughs and J.T. LeRoy weighing in on the fine line between fact, fiction, and imagination (and performance art?). For the record, I did not see what all the fuss was about and what exactly Oprah had her panties in a knot for.
Writers write. They make things up. That’s what they’re supposed to do.
And this is hardly a modern day issue. When William
S. Burroughs’ “Junky” was published in 1953, it came out under the pseudonym William
Lee and was released as a “novel” since both the publisher and the author
had an interest in selling the book as fiction to avoid persecution
under the increasingly hysterical atmosphere of America’s post-war
drug laws (not to mention its, eek!, homosexual content). But as William S. noted in an introduction to the original
manuscript, “The narrative is fiction, but it is based on facts of
And what about another one of Augusten Burrough’s books, Dry? I smell a lawsuit on the horizon for this one too (once the movie is released?), because while “Dry,” can be found in the biography
section of your local bookstore, it comes with this Author’s Note: “This
memoir is based on my experiences over a ten-year period. Names have
been changed, characters combined, and events compressed. Certain episodes
are imaginative re-creation, and those episodes are not intended to
portray actual events.”
But why is Augusten Burroughs even so popular? His writing style is formulaic and tiresome. It is
light, breezy, and overly dependent on the simile and metaphor.
If I’m in the mood for gay-funny I’m reaching for David Sedaris.