Monday, October 01, 2007

'Scissors' Cut

I just started reading "Look Me in the Eye," the new memoir by John Elder Robison about growing up with Asperger's syndrome. (Review TK.) Robison is older brother of Augusten Burroughs, who wrote briefly of his bizarrely genius brother in his bestselling memoir "Running With Scissors." I mention this because I find it so sad that this post-James Frey world in which we're living, coupled with Augusten's former "family" who sued him for defamation, has obviously forced Robison (or should I say Robison's publisher?) to put a ridiculously unnecessary disclaimer (pre-apology?) at the beginning of the book to help ward off future litigation: "In this book, I have done my very best to express my thoughts and feelings as accurately as possible." ... "it is obvious that there is no way for me to remember the exact words of conversations" ... "memory is imperfect, even for Aspergians, and there might well be passages in which I have mixed up people or chronologies" ... "I hope all the people who appear in my book feel good about my treatment of them. There are a few who may not feel good, and I hope they at least feel I was fair. I thought very hard about my portrayals of everyone, and I tried to treat the tougher scenes with sensitivity and compassion."


How very sorry is it that you're no longer allowed to write a book about your own life -- even if you change people's names and identifying characteristics -- without having to live in fear of some person from your past looking to make a buck off of your life if the book sells? When has any memoir ever had to explain that dialogue from years ago wasn't exact? And remind me, which two people in the history of the world ever remember things exactly the same way? If you're wondering who to thank for this sad state of affairs, you might want to start with the Turcotte family. Who, you ask? Oh, wait. You'd have no way of knowing who they Turcottes are if they hadn't screamed to the world that THEY ARE THE FINCHES(!!!) in "Running With Scissors." Now that's crazy!

'SCISSORS' AUTHOR SETTLES SUIT
A $2 million lawsuit against the author Augusten Burroughs, by the family that sued him for defamation for his best-selling book ''Running With Scissors,'' has been settled, The Associated Press reported yesterday. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Mr. Burroughs and the publisher, St. Martin's Press, agreed to call the volume a ''book'' instead of ''memoirs'' in the author's note, although the word memoir will still appear on the cover and elsewhere, and to change the acknowledgments in future editions to say that the Turcotte family's memories of events he describes are ''different from my own.'' In addition future editions will express regret for ''any unintentional harm'' to them. But in a statement released yesterday by St. Martin's, Mr. Burroughs declared his work ''an entirely accurate memoir.'' Howard Cooper, a lawyer for the family, said financial terms of the settlement were confidential. Mr. Burroughs lived with the Turcottes as a teenager, and though the book calls them ''the Finches,'' the lawsuit maintains that they are easily identified.

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