David Groves's Reviews > Lit

Lit by Mary Karr
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Jun 11, 2012

Read in June, 2012

"Lit" continues Karr's chronicle of her dysfunctional life that started with "The Liars Club" and continued with "Cherry." The publicity on this book said that she rewrote the book seven times. Here's what it feels like: She rewrote the book so many times that the last draft was considerably less polished than the prose of "The Liars Club." The incidents are well chosen--a major feat in a memoir--but many sentences feel half finished. Maybe her editor saved her first book and deserted her on this one. Maybe her husband. But something went wrong with the prose here.

Still, the content is mostly fine. It's not as sublime a structure as the first book, but there is an irreverent rendering of the reverent subject of God, which is nice. The alcoholism is dealt with, as it always is, in a cursory way. You see the characters as people first and diseased people second. There is no AA party line that she feels she must adhere to.

Part of the hunger I had at the end of this meal is that Karr seems to adhere strictly to the facts, and that's hard to do with memoir. How does one recall dialogue exactly? How does one recall all the twists and turns of motivation and events? Often, Karr is vague and vacillating, which is great if you're trying to avoid a James Frey, but does tend to make the story drag.

Still, it's not a bad book.
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