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The Liars' Club by Mary Karr
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May 31, 2010

it was amazing

This is the first of three memoirs that make up her life in the small refinery town of Leechfield (nee Groves) Texas. "The Liar's Club" is a reference to Karr's father a bigger than life character who spent his adult life working for Gulf or some other refinery in this backwater east Texas town (best known as the place where Agent Orange was produced). The books name derives from her father's penchant for drinking and telling famously big tales to his friends Cooter et al who relish his role as the head liar. Fortunately for us, unlike her slightly older sister Lecia, Mary was dragged along to many of these bullshit sessions where she learned the to tell stories and to develop an edge that's ranges from sweet to lethal through the remainder of the book which culminates in her father’s death in her late teens, early 20's.

Like any good memoir she tells the story of her life with unstinting honesty which is by turns horrible (her mother’s alcoholism, mental instability, affairs) and hysterically funny - a cute young girl who could cuss like a sailor, who carried her own BB gun and perched in a tree to exact vengeance on the neighbor kids for mocking her when her mother was removed to the mental institution. She tells her story with a bravery and beauty that is fearsome, revealing stories about being violated at an early age by a Neanderthal neighbor only to put a curse on him from the distance that only years and maturity can offer. Some of the passages are so funny that I realized I haven't laughed out loud while reading a book since I first read "Catcher In The Rye" at 17 in study hall.

Perhaps best known as a poet ("Abacus", "Viper's Rum" etc., she is a professor of poetry and the memoir at Syracuse University. You'll never forget Mary Karr once you read The Liar's Club.
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12/12/2016 marked as: read

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