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.
Lit by Mary Karr is her third memoir and the first book I have read by her. By all accounts, Karr had a brutal childhood, which shaped her teenage years as well as her adult years, the years focused on in Lit. Karr opens the book with a letter to her son in which she mentions this book is her way to try and explain to him how she ended up an alcoholic and how she found her way back out and is now the person she is. The short of it is an alcoholic mother who deals with divorce, raising a child, and reclaiming her life.
By nature I adore memoirs and the glimpses into the lives of others, and the lessons to be learned from those that have gone before me. I really wanted to love Lit, but I did not, which is not to say Karr did not do a splendid job writing because she did. Her prose is close to perfect and in a laid back manner that makes the reader feel as though Karr is directly speaking to the reader. Karr fluidly goes through the years and her experiences, the good, bad, and downright ugly, sparing nothing, or so it appears, and at a rather fast clip. Karr’s rawness is most likely a trademark she uses in her memoirs, however not having read the other two, I cannot be certain on that account. Karr’s ability to write about her spiraling down to rock bottom, beginning shortly after her son was born must have taken an amazing feat of inner strength, not to mention her sharing her story with the world. I truly enjoyed all of Karr’s literary references (she even mentions my beloved Nabokov) and found Lit an interesting read, but I did not love it.
I have been trying to pinpoint what exactly makes my opinion of Lit just average. Certainly it is not based on the writing style, nor the lack of information provided by Karr, for she has an abundance of information at times, to a point where I think some character development was lost. I simply found Lit to be a good book with a narrative I have heard before, different names, and circumstances to be sure, yet sadly an all too familiar tale. It is quite possible my opinion would change if I read the previous two books, The Liars’ Club and Cherry, which would give me the entire picture of Karr’s life, but I can only go with what I have in front of me, which is Lit. Would I recommend Lit? Certainly. Do I believe a lot can be gleamed from Karr’s life and others can learn from her experiences? Absolutely. I would strongly recommend reading the other reviews on the tour, as mine is just one opinion in a vast sea of opinions.
Mary Karr is an award-winning poet and best-selling memoirist. She is the author of Lit, the long-awaited sequel to her critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling memoirs The Liars’ Club and Cherry. A born raconteur, she brings to her lectures and talks the same wit, irreverence, joy, and sorrow found in her poetry and prose. A sought-after speaker, Karr has given distinguished talks at prestigious universities, libraries, and writers’ festivals, including Harvard University, Oxford University, Princeton University, Brown University, Syracuse University (“On Salmon Rushdie” with Salmon Rushdie), the New York Public Library, the Los Angeles Public Library, the Folger Library (Poetry Society of America/Emily Dickinson Lecture), The New Yorker Literary Festival, PEN/Faulkner, and the Festival of Faith and Writing. Karr welcomes conversation with her audience and she is known for her spirited, lively, and engaging Q&A sessions.
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I received a complimentary copy of Lit by Mary Karr from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.