By Mary Karr
(HarperLuxe, Paperback, Large Print, 9780061885471, 578pp.)
Publication Date: November 2009
Categories: Personal Memoirs
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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.
Mary Karr is a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry. She has won Pushcart Prizes for both verse and essays, and is the Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University. Her previous two memoirs, The Liars' Club and Cherry, were New York Times bestsellers.
The Liar's Club, Mary Karr's memoir about her hardscrabble childhood in Texas, was named one of the best books of 1995. In her new book, Lit, Karr details her early adult years and her struggles with alcohol, depression and motherhood. More at NPR.org
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- The first sentence of Lit is “Any way I tell this story is a lie.” What does Mary mean by this? Is she a reliable storyteller? Is there a story in your family famous for its different versions? Is there a story you can’t tell without “feeling” like it’s partially untrue?
‚eoeIrresistible. . . . [Written] with trademark wit, precision, and unfailing courage.‚e
-Pam Houston, O Magazine
‚eoeA brutally honest, sparkling story.‚e
‚eoeMary Karr sparked a memoir revival with The Liars‚e(TM) Club-now she‚e(TM)s back with Lit to describe how she turned those early troubles into literary gold.‚e
-Body + Soul
‚eoeAn absolute gem that secures Karr‚e(TM)s place as one of the best memoirists of her generation. . . . [She] writes with a singular combination of poetic grace and Texan verve.‚e
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
‚eoe[Karr‚e(TM)s] 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.‚e
‚eoeHer tale is riveting, her style clear-eyed and frank. That Karr survived the emotional and physical journey she regales her readers with 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‚e(TM)t be disappointed.‚e
‚eoeSearing. . . . A book that lassos you, hogties your emotions and won‚e(TM)t let you go. . . . Chronicles with searching intelligence, humor and grace the author‚e(TM)s slow, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes painful discovery of her vocation and her voice as a poet and writer.‚e
-Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
‚eoeKarr could tell you what‚e(TM)s on her grocery list, and its humor would make you bust a gut, its unexpected insights would make you think and her pitch-perfect command of our American vernacular might even take your breath away‚e¶. [Karr] holds the position of grande dame memoirista.‚e
-Samantha Dunn, Los Angeles Times
‚eoeIn a gravelly, ground-glass-under-your-heel voice that can take you from laughter to awe in a few sentences, Karr has written the best book about being a woman in America I have read in years.‚e
-Susan Cheever, New York Times Book Review
‚eoeAs irresistible as it is unflinchingly honest. . . . With grace, saltiness and profanity galore, Karr undeniably re-establishes herself as one of our finest memoirists and storytellers.‚e
-Melanie Gideon, San Francisco Chronicle
‚eoeDazzling. . . . Lit reminds us not only how compelling personal stories can be, but how, in the hands of a master, they can transmute into the highest art.‚e
-Rebecca Steinitz, Boston Globe
‚eoe[A] radiant, rueful, rip-roaring book. . . .Warm enough to burn a hole in your heart.‚e
-Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly
‚eoeScrappy, gut-wrenching. . . . Irresistible. . . . [Written] with trademark wit, precision, and unfailing courage.‚e
-Pam Houston, O Magazine
‚eoeThere isn‚e(TM)t a single false note in Lit.‚e
-Carmela Ciuraru, Christian Science Monitor
‚eoeA redemptive, painfully funny story.‚e
-Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today
‚eoeKarr movingly depicts her halting journey into AA, making it clear her grit and spirit remain intact.‚e
-Michelle Green, People (3 Ĺ out of 4 stars)
‚eoeLit matches its predecessors in candor and outstrips them in insight.‚e
‚eoeKarr‚e(TM)s sharp and funny sensibility won me over to her previous two volumes, but what wins me over to Lit is the way her acute self-awareness conquers any hint that hers is the only version of this story‚e¶. Karr is as funny as ever.‚e
-Valery Sayers, Washington Post
‚eoeWith this third book Karr has managed to raise the bar higher still on the genre of memoir.‚e
-Steve Ross, Huffington Post
‚eoe[Karr] continues to delight with her signature dark humor and pitch-perfect metaphors delivering large doses of wit and painful insights. . . . There are plenty of memoirs about being drunk, but this one has Karr‚e(TM)s voice-both sure-footed and breezy-behind it.‚e
-Beth Greenfield, Time Out New York
‚eoeMary Karr has never lacked for material. But she‚e(TM)s always delivered on the craft side, too, with her poet‚e(TM)s gift for show-and-tell.‚e
-Elizabeth Foy Larsen, Minneapolis Star Tribune
‚eoeMary Karr restores memoir form‚e(TM)s dignity with Lit.‚e