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Morning Coffee-“Lit” by Mary Karr

blog.lit.mary.karrReview by Linda L.
Mary Karr doesn’t beat around the bush. Her autobiographies glow with firecracker brilliance, her voice a refreshingly honest, gritty and irreverent scrutiny of herself and those around her. I loved her first book, “The Liar’s Club” which was about her childhood growing up hardscrabble Texas. I also loved her second book, “Cherry”, which was about her teenage years. And now, with the publication of “Lit”, she has really come into her own as a mature voice to be reckoned with.

Yes, Mary has grown up. She still has the sharp tongue and unique way of phrasing things that sometimes make me laugh out loud and other times make me cringe. And now, in her third book, “Lit”, she has added a maturity to her stories that is so honest and real that I feel that I know her completely. In this book we see her edging on self destruction. Her family traumas catch up with her and she resorts to alcohol.

Mary is a poet. That’s why she went to college. She struggled. She had almost no money. And she had a lot of catching up to do to study the great poets who she had never heard of. But she persevered, graduated and married a young man from a wealthy New England family. The young couple lived poor though because he refused to take money from his family, and so their life was a struggle, something she was used to. She worked at a college teaching poetry and did some freelance writing and she and her husband were content if not deliriously happy. But then she got pregnant and everything changed. In Mary’s own unique voice we meet her darling son, first as an infant and then as he starts to grow. She’s feeling pressure. She tries her best to be a good mother. But her past haunts her and she turns to alcohol to get her through her days.

Her descriptions of her addiction made me cringe — hiding bottles, lying to her husband, driving drunk and nearly getting killed. And then she tries to stop. There are so many attempts. So many failures. So many times her trips to Alcoholics Anonymous just didn’t work. There was struggle after struggle. I’ve read other books about alcoholics but I can honestly say that I have never really understood it until I read Mary’s words. She brought me into her life and I saw it through her eyes. And, as much as I could, I felt it too.

The book is nothing short of brilliant. All her irreverence and unique sense of humor is there. She doesn’t shirk from the truth. And her eventual redemption is not a path I personally would have chosen, it is perfectly appropriate for her. I applaud her for writing this book. And I applaud her for sharing her life with her readers.


I give this book one of my highest recommendations. Don’t miss it.

And just in case you are interesting in reading my review of her other two books, here are the links to my Amazon reviews:

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 at 1:06 am and is filed under Industry News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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