Lit by Mary Karr

Last week my book group discussed Mary Karr’s third memoir, Lit. For all but one of us, Lit was our introduction to Karr. It was interesting to note that we were meeting to discuss a memoir for which most of us had not read the ones leading up to it. But we agreed that no prior reading was required and that Karr does a good job of dipping into some of the past that she explored in her previous memoirs, The Liar’s Club and Cherry.

Lit details Karr’s descent into alcoholism shortly after the birth of her son. Karr also shares her marriage’s disintegration, her burgeoning career as a poet and memoirist and her hard-won, reluctant road to recovery as well as her spiritual awakening as a Christian.

Many readers, one of whom had listened to the audiobook, confessed that it was hard going at first. They questioned whether they wanted to read about a mother becoming an alcoholic. But there was something in Karr’s voice and writing style that made them keep going. One reader said that she didn’t like Karr in the beginning, but that her empathy really grew for her throughout. One reader said she wanted to shake the author by the shoulders several times. Another mentioned being quite captured by her poetic style and no-holds-barred delivery. But for the most part, all of my book group members that showed up to discuss the book on the day after the 4th of July holiday felt it was a moving, worthwhile and surprisingly funny book.

If your book group is looking for a thought-provoking memoir that does go into some dark places and that comes back from those dark places with a flashlight, then try Karr’s memoir Lit. I am sure that others will tell you to start with The Liar’s Club for the full picture.

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About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library.

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