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Lit: A Memoir

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Lit: A Memoir Cover

ISBN13: 9780060596989
ISBN10: 0060596988
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Staff Pick

The best way I can describe this work is to say that it's absolutely delicious. More than a mere memoir, this fascinating jewel contains universal truths, with delicate and elegant phrasing, and, despite the subject matter, there's no sense of frivolous belly-button gazing. Some of the vignettes seem as if they came from a wildly good contemporary novel, while others resonate with a reader's remembrances of his or her own triumphs and disgraces. Karr's latest is not only her best work, but one of the best journeys in the genre.
Recommended by Frances, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Liars' Club brought to vivid, indelible life Mary Karr's hardscrabble Texas childhood. Cherry, her account of her adolescence, "continued to set the literary standard for making the personal universal" (Entertainment Weekly). Now Lit follows the self-professed blackbelt sinner's descent into the inferno of alcoholism and madness — and to her astonishing resurrection. Karr's longing for a solid family seems secure when her marriage to a handsome, Shakespeare-quoting blueblood poet produces a son they adore. But she can't outrun her apocalyptic past. She drinks herself into the same numbness that nearly devoured her charismatic but troubled mother, reaching the brink of suicide. A hair-raising stint in "The Mental Marriott," with an oddball tribe of gurus and saviors, awakens her to the possibility of joy and leads her to an unlikely faith. Not since Saint Augustine cried, "Give me chastity, Lord — but not yet!" has a conversion story rung with such dark hilarity. 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.

Review:

"Karr returns with her third account (after The Liar's Club and Cherry) of her dark and drunken years as a newlywed and new mother, written to help her son get the whole tale of their early years together. Before she wrote memoirs, Karr was driven with a vagabond spirit toward poetry, whose origins she traces to the rural colloquialisms of her Texas roots. That poetic sensibility infuses every sentence of her story with an alliterative and symbolic energy, conjuring echoes of poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, and occasionally, Sylvia Plath. She even marries a fellow poet, a moneyed and controlling man named Warren. Unlike Plath, however, Karr's impulse toward self-destruction originates more from the example set by her larger-than-life, emotionally stunted parents, who were often her drinking partners. Her slow trudge toward writing success and her marriage to yet another man who comes from wealth set off her drinking in earnest. Soon she's drinking daily at all hours, hiding it in shame. Years later she obtains sobriety but not mental health, and checks into a hospital after a halfhearted suicide attempt. What heals her most deeply, however, is when she opens herself to prayer. Fortunately, Karr's wry wit and deft prose do not render her slow conversion to Catholicism in a sentimental or proselytizing manner." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.)

Review:

"Will ring as true in American-lit classrooms as in church support groups — an absolute gem that secures Karr's place as one of the best memoirists of her generation." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"That Karr survived...to become the evenhanded, self-disciplined writer she is today is arguably nothing short of a miracle, and readers of her previous two books won't be disappointed." Library Journal

Review:

"Chronicles with searching intelligence, humor and grace the author's slow, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes painful discovery of her vocation and her voice as a poet and writer." New York Times

Review:

"Mary Karr has never lacked for material. But she's always delivered on the craft side, too, with her poet's gift for show-and-tell." Minneapolis Star Tribune

Review:

"Lit matches its predecessors in candor and outstrips them in insight." Commonweal

Synopsis:

In Lit, the long-awaited sequel to her New York Times bestselling memoirs The Liars' Club and Cherry, Mary Karr chronicles her descent into the inferno of alcoholism and madness, and her astonishing resurrection.

A recollection of her struggle to come to terms with her Christian faith after years as an agnostic that explores the relationship between spirituality and substance abuse and depression, Lit is also about getting drunk and getting sober; becoming a mother by letting go of a mother; and learning to write by learning to live.

Synopsis:

Mary Karrs bestselling, unforgettable sequel to her beloved memoirs The Liars Club and Cherry—and one of the most critically acclaimed books of the year—Lit is about getting drunk and getting sober; becoming a mother by letting go of a mother; learning to write by learning to live.

The Boston Globe calls Lit a book that “reminds us not only how compelling personal stories can be, but how, in the hands of a master, they can transmute into the highest art." The New York Times Book Review calls it “a master class on the art of the memoir” in its Top 10 Books of 2009 Citation. Michiko Kakutani calls it “a book that lassos you, hogties your emotions and wont let you go” in her New York Times review. And Susan Cheever states, simply, that Lit is “the best book about being a woman in America I have read in years."

In addition to the New York Times, Lit was named a Best Book of 2009 by the New Yorker (Reviewer Favorite), Entertainment Weekly (Top 10), Time (Top 10), the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor, Slate, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the Seattle Times.

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About the Author

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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

e.m.higgins, January 2, 2011 (view all comments by e.m.higgins)
I loved reading Mary Karr's previous memoirs LIAR'S CLUB and CHERRY, and was anxiously awaiting the publication of this memoir by the Texas-born Karr. The tough-talking, hard-drinking Mary in this memoir made my heart ache with sympathy and admiration. Painful battles with fear, anger, anxiety and alcoholism are overcome by her ability to learn to believe in a Higher Power, to let go, and to stop the constant negative self-talk that tormented her for so much of her life.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
iowacat, June 23, 2010 (view all comments by iowacat)
I was on a waiting list for months to get this from the library. Now that I've read it, I realize I have to own it. (At some point, maybe I'll be able to read the chapter about putting her dad in the nursing home without crying.) Patently Mary Karr, filled with her razor wit and scathing insights, it skillfully, humorously, achingly, weaves together daughter, wife, mother. A story of regret and redemption, Lit is both gut wrenching and uplifting.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
FBB, January 13, 2010 (view all comments by FBB)
I am almost finished with "Lit," and I know already that I will miss Ms. Karr's voice and the imagery she uses to tell her story of near-death experiencese to, what I assume will be, her final redemption. Even the poetic language does not intend to cover up our seeing the many damages done during Karr's drinking; nor does it keep the reader from having a good laugh every once in a while. This 'Texas girl' transported to Cambridge, tells her story with a gritty honesty, sometimes absolute beauty, and always honestly. If you know [or knew] an alcoholic, Karr will take you to them and their pain. And even if you have no experience with alcoholism, the book is compelling in a way that even you cannot imagine.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780060596989
Subtitle:
A Memoir
Author:
Karr, Mary
Publisher:
Harper
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Texas
Subject:
Poets, American -- 20th century.
Subject:
Biography - General
Subject:
Literary
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20091103
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
11 x 8.5 in 14.24 oz

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Featured Titles » NYT Ten Best Books » 2009
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Memoirs

Lit: A Memoir Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.96 In Stock
Product details 400 pages Harper - English 9780060596989 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

The best way I can describe this work is to say that it's absolutely delicious. More than a mere memoir, this fascinating jewel contains universal truths, with delicate and elegant phrasing, and, despite the subject matter, there's no sense of frivolous belly-button gazing. Some of the vignettes seem as if they came from a wildly good contemporary novel, while others resonate with a reader's remembrances of his or her own triumphs and disgraces. Karr's latest is not only her best work, but one of the best journeys in the genre.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Karr returns with her third account (after The Liar's Club and Cherry) of her dark and drunken years as a newlywed and new mother, written to help her son get the whole tale of their early years together. Before she wrote memoirs, Karr was driven with a vagabond spirit toward poetry, whose origins she traces to the rural colloquialisms of her Texas roots. That poetic sensibility infuses every sentence of her story with an alliterative and symbolic energy, conjuring echoes of poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, and occasionally, Sylvia Plath. She even marries a fellow poet, a moneyed and controlling man named Warren. Unlike Plath, however, Karr's impulse toward self-destruction originates more from the example set by her larger-than-life, emotionally stunted parents, who were often her drinking partners. Her slow trudge toward writing success and her marriage to yet another man who comes from wealth set off her drinking in earnest. Soon she's drinking daily at all hours, hiding it in shame. Years later she obtains sobriety but not mental health, and checks into a hospital after a halfhearted suicide attempt. What heals her most deeply, however, is when she opens herself to prayer. Fortunately, Karr's wry wit and deft prose do not render her slow conversion to Catholicism in a sentimental or proselytizing manner." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.)
"Review" by , "Will ring as true in American-lit classrooms as in church support groups — an absolute gem that secures Karr's place as one of the best memoirists of her generation."
"Review" by , "That Karr survived...to become the evenhanded, self-disciplined writer she is today is arguably nothing short of a miracle, and readers of her previous two books won't be disappointed."
"Review" by , "Chronicles with searching intelligence, humor and grace the author's slow, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes painful discovery of her vocation and her voice as a poet and writer."
"Review" by , "Mary Karr has never lacked for material. But she's always delivered on the craft side, too, with her poet's gift for show-and-tell."
"Review" by , "Lit matches its predecessors in candor and outstrips them in insight."
"Synopsis" by , In Lit, the long-awaited sequel to her New York Times bestselling memoirs The Liars' Club and Cherry, Mary Karr chronicles her descent into the inferno of alcoholism and madness, and her astonishing resurrection.

A recollection of her struggle to come to terms with her Christian faith after years as an agnostic that explores the relationship between spirituality and substance abuse and depression, Lit is also about getting drunk and getting sober; becoming a mother by letting go of a mother; and learning to write by learning to live.

"Synopsis" by , Mary Karrs bestselling, unforgettable sequel to her beloved memoirs The Liars Club and Cherry—and one of the most critically acclaimed books of the year—Lit is about getting drunk and getting sober; becoming a mother by letting go of a mother; learning to write by learning to live.

The Boston Globe calls Lit a book that “reminds us not only how compelling personal stories can be, but how, in the hands of a master, they can transmute into the highest art." The New York Times Book Review calls it “a master class on the art of the memoir” in its Top 10 Books of 2009 Citation. Michiko Kakutani calls it “a book that lassos you, hogties your emotions and wont let you go” in her New York Times review. And Susan Cheever states, simply, that Lit is “the best book about being a woman in America I have read in years."

In addition to the New York Times, Lit was named a Best Book of 2009 by the New Yorker (Reviewer Favorite), Entertainment Weekly (Top 10), Time (Top 10), the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor, Slate, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the Seattle Times.

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