Are the publicists at St. Martins Press expert spinmeisters, or are they obfuscatemeisters like their author Augusten Burroughs? That's what we're wondering after reading the press release they distributed this morning about the settlement of the Turcotte family's lawsuit against Burroughs, which, as the AP reported, will result in the reclassification of the book "as a 'book' rather than 'memoirs.'" But St. Martins Press disagrees, or lies, or something, though.
St. Martin's Press is pleased to announce a very favorable settlement of the lawsuit over Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs.Whatever, he still had to pay them some money.
St. Martin's views the settlement as a complete vindication of the accuracy of the memoir. Among other things, it expressly allows continued publication of the memoir with not a single change to the text (other than a few trivial changes to the front matter, one of which changed "memoir to "book" in the Author's Note). The settlement does not require any change to the description of the book as a "memoir" on the cover or anywhere else.
Augusten Burroughs issued the following statement:
"I consider this not only a personal victory but 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.
Contrary to published reports, I did not reveal the family's real name to any journalists, and I never intended to hurt their feelings. I was just telling my life story.
To clarify, 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. I was happy to substitute the one word "book" for "memoir" on the Author's Note page, but it still says "A Memoir" on the cover, and will continue to be truthfully advertised as such. I was also happy to add an additional expression of gratitude to the family in the Acknowledgments, as well as to point out the fact that they remember things differently.
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. Running With Scissors was and continues to be the true story of my unusual and remarkable childhood."
Future printings of Running with Scissors will contain the following language:
Where the Acknowledgements page currently reads: "Additionally, I would like to thank each and every member of a certain Massachusetts family for taking me into their home and accepting me as one of their own," the following will be substituted: "Additionally, I would like to thank the real-life members of the family portrayed in this book for taking me into their home and accepting me as one of their own. I recognize that their memories of the events described in this book are different than my own. They are each fine, decent, and hard-working people. The book was not intended to hurt the family. Both my publisher and I regret any unintentional harm resulting from the publishing and marketing of Running with Scissors." In addition, on the Author's Note page (but, as the family agreed, nowhere else) the word "book" will replace the word "memoir." The book still will be described as a memoir on the cover and elsewhere. The family agreed to that, and "memoir" remains an entirely accurate description of the book.