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Words and Gems

The passions of Augusten Burroughs––New York Times best selling author



Writer Augusten Burroughs poses for the perfect selfie.

Photo Courtesy of Augusten Burroughs

Fifteen years ago Augusten Burroughs published Running with Scissors and raised the bar for writing memoir to infinite heights. The telling of his unorthodox parents and their struggles with alcoholism and mental illness and confronting his own demons resonated with his countless readers. He continued to share the inner workings of his life with Dry, A Wolf at the Door: A Memoir of My Father; and Lust and Wonder. His ability to look at his life through an unfiltered lens with no holds barred makes him one of the most effective memoirists of our time.  Nevertheless he never anticipated the success of Running with Scissors.

“My publisher really loved it,” Burroughs recalls, but even they had modest expectations, so the first printing was small. It just didn’t seem like the kind of book that would hit the New York Times bestseller list. And yet, it ended up locking in the number one spot for several years. It felt surreal.” He still had much to say and so the subsequent memoirs dealt with other issues, even though some of them were painful to reveal.

“The most difficult to write was the one about my father, A Wolf at the Table,” says Burroughs. “He lacked empathy and would today probably be diagnosed as a sociopath. He was also an alcoholic for the duration of my childhood and while he wasn’t physically abusive, he was psychologically cruel.”

Burroughs himself has battled alcoholism and in fact his writing is intertwined with his sobriety. Keeping a journal as a teenager helped him feel safe and self-contained.

“I started writing again when I got sober because I just didn’t know what else to do. Writing was how I got to know myself, what I was feeling, what I wanted. Writing has always been a way to see myself and my life clearly so that I could free myself.”

Writing is not Burroughs’ sole outlet for creativity and satisfaction—he is a self-taught gemologist as well and has amassed a collection of hundreds of pieces of jewelry.

“I bought my first piece when I was five—a silver and turquoise ring from Mexico when I was on a trip with my mother. The interest in jewelry came from my paternal grandmother, an eccentric southern lady who wore chinchilla slippers and rings on every finger.”

He looks for the old, rare, and unique and doesn’t focus on the value of the piece. “I love uncommon gems and intricate detailing. What I love most is finding the object. It’s all about the hunt for me. I occasionally sell a piece but mostly I just hoard them.”

Like so many New Yorkers, Burroughs now resides in the country. He and his husband (and literary agent) Christopher Schelling found the perfect 18th century farmhouse in Southbury, replete with a guest cottage.

“Living in Manhattan was fantastic and exciting and then it wasn’t,” Burroughs explains. “My very early childhood was spent in the country and I missed it for years. I wanted to live in a really old house and now I do.”

While Burroughs is loath to discuss what he is working on now, when asked if there will be another book soon, his reply was “very soon.”  We know it will be worth the wait.

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May 2018

The Washington Art Association & Gallery is pleased to present State of Abstraction, an exhibition of contemporary abstract art by Connecticut artists from May 5 - June 16, 2018. Co-Curated...

Cost: Free and open to the public

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Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
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Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
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The Washington Art Association & Gallery is pleased to present State of Abstraction, an exhibition of contemporary abstract art by Connecticut artists from May 5 - June 16, 2018. Co-Curated...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Hall Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

Architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911-1985), was a giant of Italian modern design and co-founder of Tecno. George Champion Modern Shop will celebrate...

Cost: free

Where:
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Sponsor: George Champion Modern Shop
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Cost: $59-$89

Where:
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The Washington Art Association & Gallery is pleased to present State of Abstraction, an exhibition of contemporary abstract art by Connecticut artists from May 5 - June 16, 2018. Co-Curated...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Hall Plaza
P.O. Box 173
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View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

Architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911-1985), was a giant of Italian modern design and co-founder of Tecno. George Champion Modern Shop will celebrate...

Cost: free

Where:
George Champion Modern Shop
442 Main St. South
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Sponsor: George Champion Modern Shop
Telephone: 203-263-8442
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Cost: $59-$89

Where:
Westchester Broadway Theatre
One Broadway Plaza
Elmsford, NY
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Website »

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Show More...
Show Less...

The Washington Art Association & Gallery is pleased to present State of Abstraction, an exhibition of contemporary abstract art by Connecticut artists from May 5 - June 16, 2018. Co-Curated...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Hall Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
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Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

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Cost: free

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Telephone: 203-263-8442
Contact Name: George Champion
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More information

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Cost: $59-$89

Where:
Westchester Broadway Theatre
One Broadway Plaza
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Website »

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Show More...
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Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Hall Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

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Cost: FREE

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Cost: free

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Cost: $20 admission; $15 for seniors; $10 for kids

Where:
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The big glitzy musical Sister Act fared better than the original movie. It received four Olivier Award nominations for its original stage production at London’s West End Theatre. It...

Cost: $59-$89

Where:
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Website »

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44 Upland Road
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The Washington Art Association & Gallery is pleased to present State of Abstraction, an exhibition of contemporary abstract art by Connecticut artists from May 5 - June 16, 2018. Co-Curated...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Hall Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

KMR Arts is proud to present MAYDAY, an exhibition of new photographs by Barbara Vaughn. Please join us for the opening reception with the artist on June 2, 2018, from 3-7pm, 2 Titus Road,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot , CT  06794
View map »


Website »

More information

Architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911-1985), was a giant of Italian modern design and co-founder of Tecno. George Champion Modern Shop will celebrate...

Cost: free

Where:
George Champion Modern Shop
442 Main St. South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: George Champion Modern Shop
Telephone: 203-263-8442
Contact Name: George Champion
Website »

More information

Peter and the Starcatcher is a play based on the 2004 novel Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, adapted for the stage by Rick Elice. The play provides a backstory for the...

Cost: $20 admission; $15 for seniors; $10 for kids

Where:
Western CT State University
Visual Performing Arts Center
Danbury, CT  06811
View map »


Website »

More information

The big glitzy musical Sister Act fared better than the original movie. It received four Olivier Award nominations for its original stage production at London’s West End Theatre. It...

Cost: $59-$89

Where:
Westchester Broadway Theatre
One Broadway Plaza
Elmsford, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free for members; $5 non-members

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Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Litchfield Historical Society
Website »

More information

The Washington Art Association & Gallery is pleased to present State of Abstraction, an exhibition of contemporary abstract art by Connecticut artists from May 5 - June 16, 2018. Co-Curated...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Hall Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

KMR Arts is proud to present MAYDAY, an exhibition of new photographs by Barbara Vaughn. Please join us for the opening reception with the artist on June 2, 2018, from 3-7pm, 2 Titus Road,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot , CT  06794
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911-1985), was a giant of Italian modern design and co-founder of Tecno. George Champion Modern Shop will celebrate...

Cost: free

Where:
George Champion Modern Shop
442 Main St. South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: George Champion Modern Shop
Telephone: 203-263-8442
Contact Name: George Champion
Website »

More information

Oil paintings by Carol Brightman Johnson will be on display at the Smithy Store Loft Gallery from May 25 to July 7. Hours: daily from 10:00 to 5:30 Subjects include horses, dogs, orchids,...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Smithy Store Loft Gallery
10 Main St.
New Preston, CT  06777
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Sponsor: The Smithy Store Loft Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-9003
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Peter and the Starcatcher is a play based on the 2004 novel Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, adapted for the stage by Rick Elice. The play provides a backstory for the...

Cost: $20 admission; $15 for seniors; $10 for kids

Where:
Western CT State University
Visual Performing Arts Center
Danbury, CT  06811
View map »


Website »

More information

The big glitzy musical Sister Act fared better than the original movie. It received four Olivier Award nominations for its original stage production at London’s West End Theatre. It...

Cost: $59-$89

Where:
Westchester Broadway Theatre
One Broadway Plaza
Elmsford, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Loft Gallery will open an exhibit of fine paintings by Carol Brightman Johnson. Ms. Johnson's show opens on Saturday, May 26 and run through Sunday, July 8, and will feature...

Cost: free

Where:
Loft Gallery at The Smithy
10 Main Street
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Sponsor: Loft Gallery at The Smithy
Telephone: (860)868-9003
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