The best way I can describe this work is to say that it’s absolutely delicious. More than a mere memoir, this fascinating jewel contains universal truths, with delicate and elegant phrasing, and, despite the subject matter, there’s no sense of frivolous belly-button gazing. Some of the vignettes seem as if they came from a wildly good contemporary novel, while others resonate with a reader’s remembrances of his or her own triumphs and disgraces.
Karr’s latest is not only her best work, but one of the best journeys in the genre. Recommended by Frances, Powell’s City of Books
Synopses & Reviews
The Liars’ Club
brought to vivid, indelible life Mary Karr’s hardscrabble Texas childhood. Cherry
, her account of her adolescence, “continued to set the literary standard for making the personal universal” (Entertainment Weekly
). Now Lit
follows the self-professed blackbelt sinner’s descent into the inferno of alcoholism and madness — and to her astonishing resurrection.
Karr’s longing for a solid family seems secure when her marriage to a handsome, Shakespeare-quoting blueblood poet produces a son they adore. But she can’t outrun her apocalyptic past. She drinks herself into the same numbness that nearly devoured her charismatic but troubled mother, reaching the brink of suicide. A hair-raising stint in “The Mental Marriott,” with an oddball tribe of gurus and saviors, awakens her to the possibility of joy and leads her to an unlikely faith.
Not since Saint Augustine cried, “Give me chastity, Lord — but not yet!” has a conversion story rung with such dark hilarity. Lit is about getting drunk and getting sober; becoming a mother by letting go of a mother; learning to write by learning to live.
Written with Karr’s relentless honesty, unflinching self-scrutiny, and irreverent, lacerating humor, it is a truly electrifying story of how to grow up — as only Mary Karr can tell it.
“Karr returns with her third account (after The Liar’s Club
) of her dark and drunken years as a newlywed and new mother, written to help her son get the whole tale of their early years together. Before she wrote memoirs, Karr was driven with a vagabond spirit toward poetry, whose origins she traces to the rural colloquialisms of her Texas roots. That poetic sensibility infuses every sentence of her story with an alliterative and symbolic energy, conjuring echoes of poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, and occasionally, Sylvia Plath.
Karr even marries a fellow poet, a moneyed and controlling man named Warren. Unlike Plath, however, Karr’s impulse toward self-destruction originates more from the example set by her larger-than-life, emotionally stunted parents, who were often her drinking partners. Her slow trudge toward writing success and her marriage to yet another man who comes from wealth set off her drinking in earnest. Soon she’s drinking daily at all hours, hiding it in shame. Years later she obtains sobriety but not mental health, and checks into a hospital after a halfhearted suicide attempt.
What heals her most deeply, however, is when she opens herself to prayer. Fortunately, Karr’s wry wit and deft prose do not render her slow conversion to Catholicism in a sentimental or proselytizing manner.” Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.)
“Will ring as true in American-lit classrooms as in church support groups — an absolute gem that secures Karr’s place as one of the best memoirists of her generation.” Kirkus Reviews
“That Karr survived…to become the evenhanded, self-disciplined writer she is today is arguably nothing short of a miracle, and readers of her previous two books won’t be disappointed.” Library Journal
“Chronicles with searching intelligence, humor and grace the author’s slow, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes painful discovery of her vocation and her voice as a poet and writer.” New York Times
“Mary Karr has never lacked for material. But she’s always delivered on the craft side, too, with her poet’s gift for show-and-tell.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Lit matches its predecessors in candor and outstrips them in insight.” Commonweal
, the long-awaited sequel to her New York Times
bestselling memoirs The Liars’ Club
, Mary Karr chronicles her descent into the inferno of alcoholism and madness, and her astonishing resurrection.
A recollection of her struggle to come to terms with her faith after years as an agnostic that explores the relationship between spirituality and substance abuse and depression, Lit is also about getting drunk and getting sober; becoming a mother by letting go of a mother; and learning to write by learning to live.
More about Mary Karr’s LIT
Be sure to schedule a 15-minute complimentary book coaching session via email: AuthorizeU@gmail.com. If we begin working together, my eBook—Writing From Life: A Wise Guide to Publishing Your Memoirs—will be yours as part of the coaching package.