Mary Karr’s courageous, enthralling memoir Lit chronicles in unsparing detail her struggle to accept her addiction to alcohol and her truly inspiring resurrection. But like her other best-selling memoir, The Liar’s Club, Karr expertly avoids treading into maudlin, movie-of-the-week territory. That’s because of her keen eye for detail, sharp wit, and expertly-written sentences - all of which sparkle like diamonds in Karr’s no-nonsense performance of her own carefully-chosen words.
Hearing an author read her work always adds a special thrill to the book, especially in this case. Karr is not just writing about a crucial time in her life, a time when she found her voice as a writer, got married, started a family, and everything seemed to be going her way…until her life unraveled. In Lit, Karr confides her inner-most thoughts and fears about actions and events most people would probably never confess to their parish priest. That might explain why her voice sometimes sounds annoyed or irritated. It’s like she can’t believe she actually did the things she did, looking back now as someone sober and stable.
Credit Karr for also dispelling the myth perpetuated by many mainstream movies (sorry, Crazy Heart) that most addicts magically achieve sobriety and never look back. Karr recounts with rigorous honesty one relapse after another and her serious suicidal thoughts after being sober for months and winning a prestigious literary prize. It sounds illogical, but, as Karr explains, “If you live in the dark a long time and the sun comes out, you do not cross into it whistling.” Reading lines like this, Karr reveals a sweet, tender side, often concealed beneath her brassy, Texas twang.
But no matter the tone, Karr’s pitch-perfect choice of words and her sharpshooter’s eye for detail will dazzle anyone who appreciates the fine art of outstanding writing. Karr’s sure-handed voice both literally and figuratively enables Lit to transcend the factual boundaries of confessional memoirs and enter the pantheon of first-class literature. Thank you, Mary Karr, for having the courage and the craft to share with us your truly inspiring story, one spectacular sentence at a time. Ken Ross
Lit follows Mary Karr's descent into the inferno of alcoholism and madness - and her astonishing resurrection. Karr's longing for a solid family seems secure when her marriage to a handsome, Shakespeare-quoting 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" awakens her to the possibility of joy, and leads her to an unlikely faith.
Lit is about getting drunk and getting sober; becoming a mother by letting go of a mother; learning to write by learning to live. It is a truly electrifying story of how to grow up - as only Mary Karr can tell it.
©2009 Mary Karr; (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers
"Astonishing....One of the most dazzling and moving memoirs to come along in years." (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)
I admit, i couldn't get past chapter 6, but I tried VERY hard. She lost me after 2 and I hung in there as much as I could. Her use of metaphors and descriptive imagery is nice at first, but it becomes the book itself. I felt myself having to work really hard just to follow the ACTUAL story and not go to far down one of her tangents. I'm sure this style is for other people, it just wasn't for me.
I had read both the Liar's Club and Cherry. Then I read the Art of Memoir. Came back to read this book. Very glad I did. Wanted to shake her at times for her decisions, but it all came together.
I kept on shuddering as she described things in metaphors both obvious and without pretension, at the same time so perfect they seemed magical. She illustrates what it's like to surface from skepticism... A wobbly journey filled with every emotion, tampered from too much sweetness or platitudes with her extraordinary anger which is amusing and keeps things sharp. When earnest affection arose, it was surprising and and so true it made my knees weak.
A transformative yet earthy and accessible memoir of heartfelt and honest expression. Not only enjoyable but penetrating. An excellent book.
Vancouver-based filmmaker. Crazy cat lady who falls down a lot of rabbit holes.
A mesmerizing, harrowing, maddening but ultimately satisfying memoir. Beautifully written, I love Mary Karr's writing, and how honest her story, no matter how ugly or unflattering. I would definitely recommend it, especially for anyone who is (or is dealing with a loved one) with substance issues. Her spiritual journey left me in tears. The performance is a little uneven, but I love hearing the voice of the author herself, and the slight glitches in reading made the experience feel more like an authentic bookstore reading, rather than the glossiness of a pro voice actor.
I really wanted to like this book. I tried. But it seems the writer becomes lost in her own metaphors and imagery that the story itself looses any tension or momentum. The tense shifts loose me, which would bother me if I cared after the 3rd chapter. She is great at imagery and witty comparisons. But after a while the story is lost and it just starts feeling like an indulgent need to fill pages. The writer has real skill sure, but her skill alone couldn't carry my attention for 12 hours! I enjoyed The Liars Club but it got in and got out, it was a clean piece of writing. Then "Lit" took some cliche, "I found God in AA," twist that was so predictable I didn't expect it at all, which made me hate it even more. If you really, really love this author or want to fill a page with clever metaphors, well, you might love it.
As a recovering alcoholic I truly enjoyed every minute, every word, everything about this amazing book. I liked it so much I'm ordering a hard copy for my own library.
Thanks Mary Karr and bless you.
very poetic in a modest down to earth way
I will buy all her books!
I enjoyed the audible version
Mary Karrs Mother, She was eccentric and had the biology to make an eccentric child
I laughed and cried
Beginning was a little slow, the end was marvelous
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