Lit by Mary Karr

Lit is the brave memoir of a woman who struggled with alcoholism and drug abuse before finding her stride as a sober poet and university professor. The story is harsh but told with a great deal of humor and wonderful writing so it’s a pleasure for the reader. There are also kind helpers along the way, starting with an observant university professor who figures out that the overwhelmed freshman is overworked (to pay her tuition) and finds her a better job and a scholarship, telling her she will help others when she’s in a position to do so, and she will, in the end.

She is escaping a nightmarish family: a loving but alcoholic dad and a mom  who is utterly unable to function;  it’s a miracle that she and her sister both make it to be productive adults. Along the way there’s a difficult, rich husband — and a masterful description of her first visit to his parents’ mansion: ” In that house, you have to practice not wanting.”  There’s the tough reality of parenting a sickly baby pretty much on her own since her husband is wedded to his work. And a very funny/sad description of the psychiatric ward she enters to avoid suicide and from which she leaves because she has to accept a literary prize.

I find it surprising that she can tell her story so frankly and even address her son at the beginning of the book. Perhaps this is true courage? In any case, I very much liked the book.


Filed under True story

4 responses to “Lit by Mary Karr

  1. Pingback: Books of the Month – January 2010 « FT's Books

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  4. Pingback: ** The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr | FT's Books

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