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)
her husband--she's very nice about it but he's obviously a tool
first visit with the mother in law
Riveting, enlightening, moving
Mary Karr. For the first time, I have true compassion for someone struggling with alcoholism.
Compelling. Interesting. Honest.
I loved how this story didn't just discuss Karr's alcohol addiction, but also how she made her way as a writer and author during this time. You didn't just get "Lit" in regards to being drunk, but also in regards to "literary." I found that aspect of her early life as a writer even more interesting than her addiction.
Having Mary Karr read her own story really gave me a sense of place and person. Mary's voice, with its slight southern accent, really added to the nuances of the words and narration. I feel as if I got so much more out of this listening to her read her memoir to me than to read it myself. It was so compelling, I'd find myself doing chores around the house just so I could keep listening to it in on my iPod!
If you like a good story by someone who isn't afraid to share it all, to show herself in an unflattering light, and appreciate the writer's life, you'll love this.
I've read a few times that it's a bad idea for authors to narrate their own books, and I have to say now that I've listened to all 3 of Karr's, I think that's mostly right. I first read Liar's Club and then listened to it, to Cherry and then Lit. The first was a hard one to listen to, but the second was better and the third was best of all. I hope now that Karr is really comfortable at narration -- and really good at it -- that she will do some more. She is one of my all-time favorite authors.
No, I don't think I'll try another book by Mary Karr. I mistakenly thought this was the memoir of an average Jane who overcame struggles with alcoholism, but she is a professional memoirist and a college prof to boot. If you take away all the literary fluff the book would be about 6 or 7 hours long. I actually wish I could personally call her and ask for my money back and tell her I think she is a big fake. Due to the fact that she is a professional I kept wondering if she was just hyping up her alcoholism and after about 3 minutes of her admittance into the mental hospital she is complaining about being there like some angsty kid.
Her narration was flat and unenethusastic, I thought it was whiny because she doesn't sound thankful at all for her success.
I was really looking forward to this book but the author should not be narrating. Her voice is monotone. Additionally, the story drags on and on.
600 titles and counting.
Compelling, starkly honest biography chronicling a slide down and ultimately successful struggle to right a life that once new only chaos and dysfunction. Mary Karr is brilliant in both her personal candor and reflective insight.
Not sure why all the rave reviews. This is yet another alcoholism-recovery-being depressed memoir. This book makes Eat, Pray, Love (aka Eat, Pray, Puke) seem self-effacing by comparison.
I like a variety of reading. Favorites: Prayer for Owen Meany Dragon Tattoos Candide by Voltaire, one of the great books! Hiiason
I've now read three of her books. I feel there is a disconnect between the life she describe in the beginning and where she is now. People and places and events are missing here. To me she has become quite tiresome in exposing, at great length and in greater detail, the failings of her life. I liked Liar's Club far more.
I really enjoyed this book. Mary is a good narrator and her story is worth listening to. It was sad at times, but a very good book.
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