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The Stuff of Life

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  81 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
When Karen Karbo's father, a charming, taciturn Clint Eastwood type who lives in a triple-wide in the Nevada desert, is diagnosed with lung cancer, his only daughter rises to the challenge of caring for him. Neither of them is exactly cut out for the job. As Dick Karbo's disease progresses, Karen finds herself sometimes the responsible adult, sometimes a stubborn teenager
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 11th 2004 by Bloomsbury USA
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Travel Writing
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I found this book for a quarter at a book sale. I so enjoyed Karen’s writing. Each sentence has a density, and gravitational pull all it's own. She is verbose in so many ways, and yet taut in so many others.

Karen tells, and tells, and tells how tough she is . Re-telling the story of how a kid once graffitied a wall that said "You could punch Karen Karbo and she doesn't even cry." I mean pages reminding us of that and yet, when we finally get to her beloved Dad's death- it is just a few scant pa
Jun 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
The Stuff of Life is a memoir by journalist Karen Karbo, who unflinchingly and honestly recounts the death of her dad from lung cancer. It is a struggle for her to take care of her father, a tough, hardened cowboy who collects guns and definitely does not make the ideal patient. He continues to smoke a pack a day despite his diagnosis. Karbo also struggles to balance her own home life in Oregon (the primary breadwinner for five kids and a slacker husband) while shuttling herself in between Portl ...more
Jul 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Having read Karbo's series on exception women, I was eager to try some of her other work. And given my profession as an estate planning and probate attorney who has also outlived both her parents, I hoped this book would hold some useful gems. It was not what I expected,but that is not to say it was bad, just a reminder not to set expectations.

The book was more journal than memoir. It starts with not her father's diagnosis, but rather the death of her step=mother. Odd it seems, but upon reflecti
May 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Couldn't put it down and hated finishing it. Her dad and step mother lived out in the boonies in a trailor in the desert, chained smoked, had their martooni hour while living hermetic lives.
Once the step mom passes away the author goes to visit her dad and soon things take a turn for the worse. She spares no one the sad details of what it is like to deal with an ill parent but she also stays clear of all pity. This was a touching and yet humorous story that at times left me i
Art Edwards
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There is something truly effortless about the way Karbo tells this tale of a time in her life that was anything but. How does she know just when to crack the joke? When to assume you get it? When to know she has to go deeper for you? For herself? Her pain is spoon fed in a way that makes it almost sweet to experience. You will relate, or you will be as prepared as you can be.

Most writers will spend their careers trying to cast off something as fully realized as TSoL.
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
The voice of experience with a smart mouth. A tender, exasperating, awful and yes, funny memoir of a 40-something woman caring for her dying father. Her writing pulls you right in to the experience. She has the failings of mind and spirit we all have and related them honestly. I could really relate! If her novels are anything like this book, I want to read them.
Sep 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Moving memoir about the death of the author's father.
Maureen Flatley
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A touching, hilarious memoir.....loving.
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Karbo's account of dealing with the decline and passing of her Dad, and in typical Karbo style, she combines sadness with incredible wit and insight. A wonderful read!
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Lovely book.
Aug 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had this on my shelf for years because I thought it might be a "downer." Not so! Karen Karbo's memoir will be counted among my favorites. I loved the humor and the humanity of it.
Dec 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
I met this author at Wordstock. She is an interesting lady. Chandler got a picture with her and her ferret.
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
girls: just keep your pants on.
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Karen Karbo's first novel, Trespassers Welcome Here, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and a Village Voice Top Ten Book of the Year. Her other two adult novels, The Diamond Lane and Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me, were also named New York Times Notable Books. The Stuff of Life, about the last year she spent with her father before his death, was an NYT Notable Book, a People Magazine ...more
More about Karen Karbo