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The Liars' Club: a Memoirby Mary Karr
Winner of the PEN/Martha Albrand Award
Synopses & Reviews
A tenth anniversary edition of the landmark memoir, with a new introduction by the author.
When it was published in 1995, Mary Karr's The Liars' Club took the world by storm and raised the art of the memoir to an entirely new level, as well as bringing about a dramatic revival of the form. Karr's comic childhood in an east Texas oil town brings us characters as darkly hilarious as any of J. D. Salinger's — a hard-drinking daddy, a sister who can talk down the sheriff at twelve, and an oft-married mother whose accumulated secrets threaten to destroy them all. Now with a new introduction that discusses her memoir's impact on her family, this unsentimental and profoundly moving account of an apocalyptic childhood is as "funny, lively, and un-put-downable" (USA Today) today as it ever was.
"Astonishing...one of the most dazzling and moving memoirs to come along in years." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"This book is so good I thought about sending it out for a backup opinion...it's like finding Beethoven in Hoboken. To have a poet's precision of language and a poet's insight into people applied to one of the roughest, toughest, ugliest places in America is an astonishing event." Molly Ivins, The Nation
"The essential American story...a beauty." Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World
"Overflows with sparkling wit and humor....Truth beats powerfully at the heart of this dazzling memoir." San Francisco Chronicle
"9mm humor, gothic wit, and a stunning clarity of memory within a poet's vision....Karr's unerring scrutiny of her childhood delivers a story confoundingly real." The Boston Sunday Globe
Monica Wood's moving memoir of the season in 1963 Mexico, Maine, as she, her mother, and her three sisters healed after the loss of their mill-worker father and then the nation's loss of its handsome young Catholic president.
Winner of the 2012 Sarton Memoir Award
“Every few years, a memoir comes along that revitalizes the form…With generous, precise, and unsentimental prose, Monica Wood brilliantly achieves this . . . When We Were the Kennedys is a deeply moving gem!”—Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog and Townie
Mexico, Maine, 1963: The Wood family is much like its close, Catholic, immigrant neighbors, all dependent on the fathers wages from the Oxford Paper Company. But when Dad suddenly dies on his way to work, Mum and the four deeply connected Wood girls are set adrift. When We Were the Kennedys is the story of how a family, a town, and then a nation mourns and finds the strength to move on.
“On her own terms, wry and empathetic, Wood locates the melodies in the aftershock of sudden loss.”—Boston Globe
“[A] marvel of storytelling, layered and rich. It is, by turns, a chronicle of the renowned paper mill that was both pride and poison to several generations of a town; a tribute to the ethnic stew of immigrant families that grew and prospered there; and an account of one familys grief, love, and resilience.”—Maine Sunday Telegram
1963, Mexico, Maine. The Wood family is much like its close, Catholic, immigrant neighbors, all dependent on a fathers wages from the Oxford Paper Company. Until the sudden death of Dad, when Mum and the four closely connected Wood girls are set adrift. Funny and to-the-bone moving, When We Were the Kennedys is the story of how this family saves itself, at first by depending on Father Bob, Mums youngest brother, a charismatic Catholic priest who feels his new responsibilities deeply. And then, as the nation is shocked by the loss of its handsome Catholic president, the televised grace of Jackie Kennedy—she too a Catholic widow with young children—galvanizes Mum to set off on an unprecedented family road trip to Washington, D.C., to do some rescuing of her own. An indelible story of how family and nation, each shocked by the unimaginable, exchange one identity for another.
“Monica Wood has written a gorgeous, gripping memoir. I dont know that Ive ever pulled so hard for a family.”—Michael Paterniti, author of Driving Mr. Albert
About the Author
Mary Karr's poems and essays have won Pushcart prizes and have appeared in magazines such as the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and Parnassus. She was a Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe College, and is now the Jesse Truesdale Peck Professor of English Literature at Syracuse.
Table of Contents
Prologue: My Mexico xiii
1. Morning 1
2. Wake 21
3. Hiding 35
4. Explorers 55
5. Too Much Stairs 77
6. Paper 97
7. Three Vanillas 111
8. Offer It Up 123
9. The Mystery of the Missing Man 137
10. Just Nervous 149
11. Widows Instructions 165
12. Our Nations Capital 179
13. Anniversary 199
14. I Hear Music 213
Epilogue: New Page 223
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