Powerful Vindication, Sort Of
Posted by: Keir Graff
The Turcotte family has settled their lawsuit against Augusten Burroughs and St. Martin’s, reports the Boston Globe (“Family settles with ‘Running with Scissors’ author, publisher,” by Rodrique Ngowi):
Burroughs and his publisher, St. Martin’s Press, agree to call the work a “book” instead of “memoirs,” in the author’s note and to change the acknowledgments page in future editions to say that the Turcotte family’s memories of events he describes “are different than my own,” and expressing regret for “any unintentional harm” to them, according to Howard Cooper, an attorney for the family. He said financial terms of the settlement are confidential.
Publishers Lunch, however, is reporting that Burroughs and St. Martin’s crossed their fingers.
But in a subsequent statement released this morning, St. Martin’s takes the opposite view. They call it “a very favorable settlement” and say they see it “as a complete vindication of the accuracy of the memoir.” They note the text of the book remains unchanged “other than a few trivial changes to the front matter” and underscore that the book can still be described as “memoir” on the cover and elsewhere.Burroughs says in the statement in part: “Running With Scissors is still called a memoir. It always has been a memoir, and the family expressly agreed that it will continue to be called one…. Not one word of the actual memoir itself has been changed or altered in any way. The text is exactly as I wrote it, intended it, and lived it.”
People often use sports as a metaphor for real life, but in sports, both sides can’t claim victory. Oh well. Two minor details jumped out at me. First, the Turcottes’ claim that:
“This settlement is the most powerful vindication of those sentiments that we can imagine.”
Or, translated: we clearly weren’t going to get what we wanted, so we adjusted our imaginations accordingly.
Also, I had somehow missed the fact that the name Augusten Burroughs is itself a fiction. (Real name: Christopher Robison, by A. A. Milne.) I should have known: all the really cool author names are made up. So perhaps the clew was there all along.
(Read Booklist‘s review of Running with Scissors, written before all this argle-bargle and foofaraw.)