My Life the Movie

Augusten Burroughs reflects on fame, pop writing and film

Burroughs' perspective on the film's ultimate critical and commercial success is typically wry. "I feel like if it's great I'll be able to take credit, and if it's not I'll be able to say it's all Ryan. I mean, that's kind of how it is, really. If it is good it just reflects well on me, but if it's bad, hey, I didn't write the screenplay. It's a good position to be in. A bad movie can ruin your career. I mean, look at Endless Love."

The author with the actor who plays him (Joseph Cross, left)
The author with the actor who plays him (Joseph Cross, left)

Considering how even the most trite of printed reflections on family, friends and lovers can stab through the hearts of those relationships, Burroughs took what might be considered a risk by allowing the book's characters to be further fictionalized and caricatured in the film. He doesn't seem to care a whole lot about their potential reactions, partly because he's not in touch with the Finch family or with his mother, and likely in part because the story of his life is his own to tell. He expects that Bookman, an older Finch pseudo-scion who played an enormous and aggressive role in Burroughs' teenage sex life, is dead ("I heard that the studio or somebody found a death certificate for him. I never imagined that he could have survived, anyway"). Morever, the potentially bad reactions of those who figured into his difficult adolescence probably don't matter much to Burroughs: when you've survived what he has and come out of it with a successful professional and personal life, you're unlikely to be vexed by the opinions of others. It could also be that he's already been through it. "I was actually on tour for Running With Scissors and I had like a mini-breakdown and I thought, 'I can't do this, I can't.' It's like walking around with all these open wounds, and I just freaked out. But then people were so terrific and that feeling went away. People have much more in common than [they have] differences, and people were really cool about it. So I just never think of it, and I'm not embarrassed or ashamed of anything because if I've had it or done it or felt it or seen it or thought it then so has someone else, if not a lot of other people."

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