Dark at the Roots: A Memoir
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Dark at the Roots: A Memoir

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  801 ratings  ·  116 reviews
Given the Nickname "Family Liar" by her father around the time she started talking, Sarah Thyre was the second of five children to be born into a southern family of Roman Catholics. Confused by this endearment, but eager to live up to it, Sarah quickly managed to get herself into precarious situations. Whether it is small Sarah accidentally going "poddy" in the garage duri...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 27th 2007 by Counterpoint (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,103)
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Madison Sterling-Zalk
This book--what I read of it--was OK. The author is the same age as me, so there were a lot of amusing references to things I totally remember as a kid... but that is really the only reason I didn't quit this book earlier. I know a lot of people have loved this book; while the author has some clever things to say, this book just didn't "grab" me, and I don't finish books or movies that don't have that certain, very clever hook I am looking for.
Melissa
I found this on a shelf at the dollar store for a dollar. Due to it was at the dollar store. And bought it because Sarah Thyre makes me laugh my ass off on Twitter, and also sometimes think. Good books on shelves at the dollar store is a sad thing, in some ways, but also a happy thing because I didn't even know Sarah Thyre had a book and wouldn't have bought it if it weren't so cost effective.

Sarah Thyre is a terrific writer. This is a wonderful book. There is no filler. It is hilarious, well co...more
Roo
I started reading this book, and then I got an email from the library that it was due. I didn't feel any sort of sadness that it was due, so that was my sign: I just didn't dig this book that much. The chapters I read weren't bad, but I just didn't feel an intense compelling to keep going forward. So, I chalk this one up to the "unfinished" list.
Julie
Eh, I was rather disappointed in this book. From all of the blurbs on the back, I expected it to be Laff-Out-Loud-Hilarious, but it was more sad than anything else. And not sad in the cry-your-eyes-out-this-is-a-great-book way. Sorry, Sarah, I hope your life is better now, but your book left me cold.
Elizabeth Wylder
Maybe it's just me, but cringe-worthy (and utterly charmless) childhood memories and an abundance of bodily fluids are neither "dark" nor "humorous."
Alison
I ordered the first chapter as a free sample from Amazon and got a kick out of what I read, so I decided to order the book. Then, as I got further into it, I was less enamored. There were times when I felt the author had to be making things up--little details here and there that seemed hyperbolic for the sake of humor, (which would be fine if this were labeled solely as Humor, but it's a Memoir). Other times I felt that some of the vignettes were a little pointless; was there something I was mis...more
Kimberly Hicks
Jul 03, 2012 Kimberly Hicks rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Kimberly by: Goodreads
Shelves: read-on-kindle
Sarah Thyre is a witty, outrageously funny person. Her sarcastic sense of humor was off the charts. She hit punchlines much like Rosie O'Donnell and/or Ellen, which is what I loved about this memoir. I could relate to many aspects of her upbringing.

Sarah's family was like a group of nomads--moving from state to state and city to city, which I think is why she developed such a great sense of humor. However, having said that, I found the story one-sided because it was basically about her school li...more
Meagan
This is actually a memoir or collection of memoirs of Sarah Thyre's life. I heard her interview on NPR and though I might be interested. It sounded amusing. And it was.

Basically she narrates a collection of the most memorable or life shaping moments of her quirky and screwy life. She finds humor in the unpleasent, and her delviery of things that need no sarcasim is perfect.

It was weird in a way, that it was different than reading a straight through story. There wasn't a straight forward plot, or...more
Gwen
This is one of those memoirs that brought back memories from my childhood that really I could have done without, but made me feel a little better--at least I'm not the only person whose dad put a bucket in the van for use as a toilet on family trips. The author's family moved from Kansas City to Louisiana when she was a kid, and she had the typical white-trash upbringing--mean father, weird Christian mom, crummy clothes, moments of suddenly realizing she's poor and people think she's trashy.

And...more
Moya
(note that i tried to give this book 2 1/2 stars, which doesn't seem to be possible using the goodreads rating system....)

this book was a tough read for me. having previously read augusten burroughs childhood memoir, running with scissors -- which was funny and awesome as well as disturbing -- and also david sedaris' me talk pretty one day, which was full of good humor, thyre's book just left me feeling super depressed.

not that there weren't funny moments, because there were. my particular favor...more
Lisa
Did you know Sarah Thyre is married to Andy Richter? I did not, and was surprised/pleased to learn this information. Anyway, I am sad to have finished reading Dark at the Roots, as it is a series of humorous vignettes about the author's tormented childhood, and the format and content are simply perfect for reading at bedtime. I don't know what I'll read now that I've finished. The stories are equal parts horrifying and hilarious, which makes for compelling reading. I'm personally always gratifie...more
Tima
This book was nothing special, in my humble opinion. Thyre's life was just as eccentric (maybe even less so) as her genre-equivalents -- except she isn't that great of a story teller.

Of course, there were funny moments and relatable moments but I wasn't as interested in this book as I usually am. Maybe I'm just getting burned out on stories of now-middle-aged women from quirky, eccentric, poor, religious, semi-abusive homes.

The book is blurbed all by people she knows personally, so I take their...more
Sarah
Well this memoir was a kick to read, but I'm not if high school students will enjoy it. The author is a writer/actress who looks familiar to me but I'm not sure from where. The jacket says she has been on Conan O'Brien so maybe that's where I've seen her. [return]The cover of the book is awesome. Gotta love the freaky doll. My daughter wanted to read it and she's only four. She was very disappointed that there weren't any pictures. [return]The author had an interesting life. Her dad was strange...more
Kaite Stover
From the moment young Sarah gives a fake name to a security guard in a shopping mall while he announces her name over the loud speaker to the time she sweet talks a dentist into giving her braces that her father will pay for, Sarah’s attempts at better life are not just fraught with peril, but humiliation and laughter. None of the incidents are extraordinary, but they are recognizable for their ordinariness and made unique by Sarah’s quirky worldview.Teens will find Sarah’s teenage attempts to p...more
Ashlee
I had high hopes for this one - I do love stories about dysfunctional southern familes (Prince of Tides, YaYa, etc.)
I was sold when i read the first line on the back referring to her mother who led a prayer group "sipping martinis while pondering chapter and verse"
There was a lot of funny in it and some dark stuff but when i was done i really felt like there was no teeth to it. I just kind of wanted to tell her, "WHAA - boo - hoo for you, you pretty much had a typical, non-rich kid, growin up i...more
Jocelynne Broderick
Ab
So
lute
ly

HILARIOUS! I laughed out loud at so many parts! This chick has quite the way with words! And I could relate to so many of her anecdotes and behaviors. I saw myself in her.

My only negative thing is that the book just ended. None of that epiphany shit, or moral-of-the-story story-wrapping-up. It just ended! As if she was getting ready to move on to a new topic, but then not.

All righty then.

But I give it 5 stars for the giggle factor. Cuz I giggled and giggled. A lot.

Oh, and apparently...more
Kevin Fink
Sarah Thyre first rocked my world when she played the gym teacher on Strangers With Candy, so when I spied this book I immediately checked it out. Comparisons to David Sedaris will abound, but Thyre is more like Sedaris without shame, guilt, or apologies. She's blunt, honest, hilarious, ribald, ballsy, obnoxious, nasty, and heartbreaking (the excerpts about her father are just devastating). She does get a bit scatalogical at times (I mean poo, people), and has an odd fixation on body odor, but t...more
Kelli
Dark at the Roots is a collection of essays about Thayer's life as she grew up in the South. A strict Catholic upbringing, poverty, divorce and struggles with honesty are some of the prevailing themes throughout the memoir. While the chapters are in a chronological order, there's still something lacking in that the book doesn't seem to have any narrative or specific theme to pull it together. Thayer is very intelligent and her use of language is impressive, which is the main thing that kept me r...more
Nick
Aug 02, 2007 Nick rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Sedaris devotees
Like some angel of the bookshelf, Lindsay just lent this to me this morning. I saw Sarah Thyre read a chapter of this book at a variety show, and laughed.

Ok, now having finished this book - I think the sum of its parts is slightly less than the parts on their own. There are some very funny, and some very uncomfortable-in-a-good-way chapters, but I think a certain amount of overarching narrative wouldn't have hurt. There was something missing - a bit more introspection, or at least some reflecti...more
Nancy Martira
Sarah Thyre, writer; comedian; wife of Andy Richter, writes about growing up poor and Catholic in Louisiana. Long on imagination and short on everything else, Thyre survives all the sex, drugs and mayonnaise of the 70s and 80s with the help of her pious, slut-fearing mother, who'll try every scam in the book when it's time to come up with the money for summer camp and school dances. The stories here will be painfully familiar to some, but the inescapable the bleakness (or the titular darkness),...more
Angie
One of the funniest books I have ever read.
Carly
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, although I can see how it would be a bit much for some people and cross over the funny line into gross-out territory. Truly written from the heart with absolutely no shame Sarah lets us into her childhood, strange sights, smells and all. I absolutely love that she gets in trouble all the time correcting her teachers and her sexual exploits really cracked me up. I found myself comforted that I may not have been the weirdest kid to ever live! We probably would've go...more
K
Very funny book!

EDIT: OMG I feel I owe Sarah Thyre more than just a proclamation that this a "very funny book." She wrote a very honest account of her childhood, which includes a very strained and occasionally abusive relationship with her father. There are parts of this book that are tough to read, but she has such a keen sense of humor that it's very easy to start laughing again. She really has a fantastic sense of humor that I enjoy immensely. I hope she writes more books down the line.
Lisa
I can't say that I was impressed with this one. I get enough "bathroom humor" from my pre-teens....don't need it in my pleasure reading. Somewhat whiny, not much story, and as someone else pointed out in their review, the book ended very abruptly - not very satisfying. But, most of all, I think I was turned off by the slam at "state colleges". Give me a break! As a state college graduate, I can say there are many of us around who are doing just fine, thank you, and without all the sour grapes!
Julie
David Sedaris-style humor. Her hyperbolic style of writing gave her the impression of trying too hard, though. Quite laugh-out-loud funny at times, but I wish the book had been 100 pages shorter.
Sara
Clever and funny, Sarah Thyre is able to capture an audience with her tales of dramatic woe and malevolent mischievousness. Quite simply: she's kind of, really awesome.
Her dishonesty is mixed with good intentions--and her Catholic upbringing, numerous siblings, and ability to end up in crazy situations makes her story entertaining, and hard to put down.
It was a quick read (two days) and enjoyable, as well. Sarah Thyre has a knack for capturing the audience and telling a story.
Shawna
This was a very enjoyable partially bawdy book. I really had no idea of the author's comedy chops when I began it. Apparently she appeared on Strangers with Candy and she is married to Andy Richter. This book is very similiar in style and content to David Sedaris (there are five children in Sarah's family as well) and Haven Kimmel's memoir "A Girl Named Zippy." Worthwhile as a quick, fun read when your in the mood for some dysfunctional family stories.
Kimberly
May 17, 2008 Kimberly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to laugh
Two words = GREAT FUN
Like the author, I too am 39 years old. Many of her situations growing up made me cringe with delight. There were so many growing pains brought up - I especially related to the HBO references, and wanting to go to a summer camp like Little Darlings.

This book was a lot of fun and a pleasure to read. I loved her wacky dad, her unconventional fund raising, and most of all her Hitler social studies project complete with an arm.
Amy
Maybe this is more like 3.5 stars. I love Sarah Thyre on Twitter, and I really enjoyed most of the stories in this book. Some of them I could just change the names in and it would be a story of my own childhood in Arkansas. But . . . I don't know. I wanted more than just the scenes presented without comment. (This might be a self-criticism as much as it is a criticism of this book. My fiction AND nonfiction kind of suffers from the same problem.)
Jess Moss
Very enjoyable memoir about a fairly ordinary childhood. I enjoy reading memoirs even when the stories are not strange or shocking, and this was a good one.
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193690
Sarah Thyre is an actress and writer who has appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Strangers with Candy, and performed her own work at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theaters, Sit’n’Spin at the Comedy Central Stage, and on Public Radio International. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband Andy Richter and their two children.
More about Sarah Thyre...

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“I like liars.
Liars care enough to make the world
a more interesting place than it actually is.”
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