Janowitz’s account of all this is not self-pitying but quite funny, in the David Sedaris tradition ... If you’re looking for profound insight about growing up with difficult parents, about the vagaries of literary life or about the hardships of elder care, this memoir won’t do it for you. Janowitz doesn’t interpret or analyze much ... [a] wry, unpretentious memoir.
Janowitz’s greatest strength has always been her bluntness, and there’s certainly no lack of it in Scream ... When Janowitz gets coy or retreats into cliché in passages about her famous friends, it doesn’t seem to be out of discretion. You get the sense, rather, that it pains her to give readers the gossip they want ... Once you get over your disappointment at Janowitz’s refusal to detail her wildest nights of 'semi-fame,' the irreverence of an author who’s desperate for money but still won’t submit to expectations is thrilling ... rarely ha[s] the emotional impact she intends.
The author’s dysfunctional family life in Western Massachusetts and the Boston suburbs is squarely in Running With Scissors territory; so too is her broad use of humor to depict the domestic freak show. But where Augusten Burroughs wove his horror story with rich detail, cutting insight, and plain old craft, Janowitz unloads anecdotes like freight from a dump truck — unsorted and a little smelly ... It’s hard to know how Janowitz feels; her inner world is buried under a pile of extraneous incidents, bewildering sarcasm, and whining.