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Augusten Burroughs

Best-Selling Author

Augusten Burroughs was born Christopher Richter Robison  in Pittsburgh, PA on October 23, 1965 and raised in Western Massachusetts.  His father chaired the Philosophy department at the University of Massachusetts and his mother was a writer who earned her M.F.A. in the late 1970’s.  Augusten’s parents struggled with alcoholism and mental illness and they separated…

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Augusten Burroughs was born Christopher Richter Robison  in Pittsburgh, PA on October 23, 1965 and raised in Western Massachusetts.  His father chaired the Philosophy department at the University of Massachusetts and his mother was a writer who earned her M.F.A. in the late 1970’s. 

Augusten’s parents struggled with alcoholism and mental illness and they separated when he was twelve. Augusten stopped attending school and his parents’ longtime psychiatrist became his legal guardian. At seventeen, he moved to the Boston area and graduated from Control Data Institute with a diploma in Computer Programming and System’s Analysis and Design but never worked in the technology industry.  Instead he moved to San Francisco and at 19 became the youngest copywriter in the city. 

His work attracted national acclaim and in 1989 he was invited by Ogilvy & Mather, New York, the opportunity to work on their flagship American Express account. Augusten found great success in the Manhattan advertising community, eventually working for many of the top agencies where he created global ad campaigns for worldwide brands. Almost eighteen years after accepting his first advertising job, Augusten left the industry to pursue a career as an author.

Two years later, his 2002 memoir,Running with Scissors, became a publishing phenomenon, spending over three consecutive years on the New York Times bestseller list. It was made into a movie starring Annette Bening and Alec Baldwin.  All of Augusten’s subsequent books -Dry, Magical Thinking, Possible Side Effects, A Wolf at the Table, You Better Not Cry & This is How- were instant New York Times bestsellers.

His writing has appeared in magazines and newspapers worldwide including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian UK, The Sydney Morning Herald and many more. He has been twice voted to Entertainment Weekly’s famed, “Funniest People in America” list, featured as a cover story in Vanity Fair, profiled extensively in magazines like People and Time, provided commentary for National Public Radio, penned a monthly column for Details and hosted his own radio show for Sirius.

In 2013 Augusten married his literary agent and best friend, Christopher Schelling, received a Lambda Literary Award and was honored with a Doctorate of Letters from the Savannah College of Art and Design. 

Augusten is also a self-taught gemologist with a special interest in jade. He collects and sells vintage and estate jewelry, photographs people and recently directed his first music video.

Augusten and his husband Christopher live in a 200 year old house in rural Connecticut with their three dogs.

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Growing Up Screwed Up: My Life as a Reject
Geared toward young people in challenging circumstances (kids at risk and their parents), this is Burroughs at his most brutally honest. In this powerful, emotional lecture, he speaks to troubled kids in their own language, at their own level, with stories of horror and abuse that will make even the most jaded kid cringe. Burroughs will talk about how he crawled out of life’s gutter and made something of himself –with no help from any adult in his life. He will discuss the importance of channeling rage into rocket fuel and “pipe dreams” into reality. With raw honesty, Burroughs offers real inspiration to kids in crisis.

From the Ashes: A Life Rebuilt Without Drugs or Alcohol
In Burroughs’ New York Times bestselling memoir, Dry, he discussed his alcoholism, recovery and nearly fatal relapse. Now, the author tells the complete story of his transformation – from a drunk living in a secretly filthy apartment to an internationally recognized author. “The only variable is, I no longer drink.” In this profoundly inspiring story, Burroughs shows that the “promises” of Alcoholics Anonymous are very true. And that anything is possible, as long as a person has both a dream and the clarity of mind to make that dream come true.

Burroughs & You
Join Burroughs for a rare, unscripted, unplugged event where you have the chance to ask one of the most famous and successful authors of our day anything at all. Here, there are no rules and there are no boundaries. From the moment the show starts, the audience is involved –you ask and he will answer. Nothing is off-subject. Burroughs is at his fiery, funniest best when all the rules are thrown out the window and he’s flying the only way he knows how: by the seat of his pants. Sure to be an evening filled with surprises, possibly a few shocks, and enough inspiration to carry you forward for a long time, this is your chance to go one-on-one with one of literature’s most unique voices.

Bent: On Not Being Straight
Burroughs has known he was gay his entire life. And because he was raised without a formal education and in a chaotic environment where his sexual orientation was the least of his problems, he was, accidently, quite comfortable with his sexual orientation. Today he says, “It’s like being right handed. I’m not proud of being gay because I haven’t achieved anything. But I wouldn’t change my sexual orientation for anything.” This fascinating and unique perspective on sexuality will open minds and change them. A firm believer that gay people have the moral, ethical and legal right to marry, raise children and be employed in any context they wish, he is a vocal proponent of true equality – the kind that comes as an entitlement of being an American. With wit sometimes shocking and sometimes side-splitting, Burroughs makes everybody – gay, straight, bi, transgendered or somewhere in-between – feel better about themselves and the country they live in. A must for colleges.

Alternative Educational Options for Disenfranchised Teens
Living in a chaotic, abusive foster family environment as a child, Burroughs was distracted, anxious and bored at school. At 14, he felt he was ready to attend college and begin his life. The state didn’t agree. But Burroughs enrolled at the University of Massachusetts, auditing courses for credit and achieved an A and B average. Before the semester was over, he was brought before a judge who was unimpressed and ordered Burroughs back to junior high. The school then began a battery of tests and determined his IQ to be near 80. They installed him in a special class for children with Down syndrome and other serious learning disabilities. After reducing the school psychologist to tears, causing her to admit, “I never wanted to be a psychologist, I wanted to be a photographer,” Burroughs left formal education forever.

This dissatisfaction seemed to run in the family. Burroughs’s older brother, John, dropped out of high school and then built all the pyrotechnic guitars for the Kiss World Dynasty Tour, eventually going on to become one of the most respected audio geniuses in the business. And more recently, Burroughs’s nephew, a D student in high school made national headlines when the FBI descended on his home chemistry lab – resulting in invitations to attend two of the top colleges in the country.

Burroughs believes that exceptional people need exceptional teachers. Not every child or young adult fits the academic mold society has created. In this lecture, he will discuss options for giving our children the best education possible. From home schooling to new, non-traditional schools, Burroughs will inspire with stories from his and his family’s struggle, including the transformation he has seen in his nephew since attending college at an early age.

Above all, Burroughs believes in the innate intelligence of young people, and he believes they need to take control of their educational destinies. For some kids, it’s enough to follow the pack. But for others, the mold must be broken. Join Burroughs in this inspiring, enlightening evening –children and teenagers are encouraged to attend.

Gay Teenagers Today: Establishing an Identity
Burroughs knew that he was gay pretty early in his life. Given the bizarre circumstances of his upbringing, being gay was hardly even worth noting. So many other unusual events were taking place that being attracted to men was considered perfectly normal and acceptable. What was not was being involved with a man more than 25 years older than he – with the full knowledge and encouragement of his mother.

While being openly gay had no negative consequences, being thrust into a highly inappropriate relationship did. Such contradictory factors highlight the many complex issues gay teenagers face as they try to navigate the most difficult developmental period we all face. Over the years, Burroughs has received letters from young gay people struggling to deal with difficult home lives and social situations. While gay teens are more accepted than ever before, the realization and acceptance of being gay is still very troubling and difficult for many. Hear Burroughs’ compassionate and hopeful response to gay young people as they forge their path to being well-adjusted, confident adults.

Videos

Augusten Burroughs on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos

Augusten Burroughs, "Lust & Wonder"

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