WOW! That’s the word that rolled through my head as I listened to Mary Karr‘s third memoir, Lit. Some other choice words were in tumbling about too, but they were a slightly more vulgar equivalent of wow… so for our sakes and purposes… WOW!I haven’t read Karr’s other books, The Liar’s Club and Cherry, memoirs of her earlier life, but Lit gives you all the info you need. (Although, if you’re like me, you’ll have to head right out and pick up copies of her two earlier works.) This third installment follows Karr from late teens to the publication of her first memoir at age 40.
Karr’s life is more intense that an afterschool special and a Lifetime movie combined, and having Karr read it herself makes it all the better. After a little research, I found that readings and oral presentations of her work are really important. She powers through this book, rife with difficult details and things people guiltily hide in the backs of their closets. Karr, not out of pride, but out of reality, shares her story. Seeing a shared story as a form of therapy or helping hand. “My life isn’t as bad as hers” kind of situation. Although often times, in a mental ward after a “suicide” attempt being one specific example, Karr states that her life hasn’t been half as difficult as others she’s encountered.
Having Jan Kerouac and Sylvia Plath already on my bookshelf, Karr is a given. There’s absolutely nothing not to like. Well, “like” isn’t the right word… you don’t really “like” this book. You’re consumed by it. You’re bewitched by Karr’s disfunctional family and you miss them when the book is over. You really know them. Not just in a neighborly way, you know these people’s major life screw ups… you really know them.
I can’t sing this book enough praise. Listen to it, read it, borrow it, buy it, steal it… whatever the means to the end, let this book envelope you. I give it a solid A.