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Running with Scissors: a misery memoir

Running with Scissors

    To be or not to be a memoir. This was the question hanging over Running With Scissors when it received a lawsuit in 2005. In fact, the background story of this New York Times best-selling memoir is almost as amusing as the memoir itself. Firstly, to the story. Running with Scissors opens with the American 10-year-old, Augusten, living with his neurotic mother, a chain-smoking aspiring poet who when, after divorcing, becomes a lesbian feels cramped by her son’s presence. When she ships him off to live with her Northampton psychiatrist, Augusten enters an eccentric world where life is likened to — running with scissors. The Finch family Augusten lives with the Finch family, a pseudonym, where the patriarch is a Santa-look-a-like who indiscriminately offers Augusten pharmaceuticals and condones the boy’s affair with an adult male client, which looks a lot like paedophilia. The Finch matriarch eats dog food and remains oblivious to the madness around her. The house is squalid, entertainment consisting of free-roaming children watching a dog poo on… Read More »Running with Scissors


    We Were Liars

      We Were Liars is a short novel, perfect for any reader who wants a small pacy read and is prepared to slip into the skin of an impetuous American teenager. True to its YA nature, there is an impassioned, impossible love story, but it offers more than that. It’s also about what lies beneath the façade of the American dream epitomised by the glamorous and very rich Sinclair family. Cady and the Sinclairs The Sinclairs are small l liberal elites. They are invariably tall, good-looking and confident. Cadence or Cady, our 15-year-old narrator at the novel’s opening, says: “We are old-money Democrats. Our smiles are wide, our chins square and our tennis serves aggressive.” Cady has a quick wit, a big heart, and a wild story to tell, centred around her annual trips to the family’s private island, Beechwood. Our narrator has a flaw: she is, at least initially, blind to her privilege. On the island, Cady connects to three others she calls collectively ‘The Liars’. Johny and Mirran are… Read More »We Were Liars

      Klara and the Sun a dystopia set in a technologically advanced future

      Klara and the Sun

        Told from the point of view of an advanced robot, Klara and the Sun is a riveting novel by English author Kazuo Ishiguro. Klara is an AF or Artificial Friend, used by affluent teens as companions In a future American society. No longer the latest model, Klara has been programmed for empathy — she keenly observes human emotions and behaviours, responding in all instances to protect and nurture her owner. While not about amnesia per se, the unusual perceptions the reader is privy to, due to being granted Kara’s point of view, are reminiscent of my experience of trying to piece the world together after retrograde amnesia. Klara as a programmed robot does not have all the salient facts, and in the absence of these, she invents. Chilling social order The drip-feeding of information about what it is to be lifted, and other crucial plot elements, help make the novel an extraordinary read. Part-mystery, part-speculative novel, Klara’s perception as a lens to view this chilling social order is compelling, albeit… Read More »Klara and the Sun