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"Running With Scissors" lawsuit is settled

August 30, 2007 |  6:15 pm

One result of the fiasco over James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces" was that other memoirists' stories began to be heavily scrutinized about their truthfulness. One such writer snagged by Freygate was Augusten Burroughs, whose bestselling "Running with Scissors" describes his life with a foster family, the Turcottes. They filed a defamation lawsuit against Burroughs and his publisher, St. Martin’s, for the way the book characterized them. The two parties have reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount, with St. Martin’s Press, Burroughs' publisher, issuing a statement Thursday calling the result a "complete vindication of the accuracy of the memoir."

Burroughs is quoted at length in the same release, declaring that the settlement is "a victory for all memoirists. I still maintain that the book is an entirely accurate memoir, and that it was not fictionalized or sensationalized in any way. I did not embellish or invent elements. We had a very strong case because I had the truth on my side."

On the other hand, Burroughs says that, even though the word "memoir" will still appear on the cover, on the Author’s Note page he has agreed to change "memoir" to "book" and to include new language in the Acknowledgements section. This is the most interesting change given that the original simply thanked "a certain Massachusetts family," Burroughs’ new language includes the statement that the Turcottes' "memories of the events described in this book are different than my own" and that St. Martin’s and the author "regret any unintentional harm."

A lawyer for the Turcottes, Publishers Weekly reports, claims victory, pointing out that it is "unusual for a publisher to make any changes to a book post-publication." The lawyer also says that the settlement "covered their legal expenses and beyond."

Nick Owchar

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