A Memoir

Book - 2009
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Mary Karr's bestselling, unforgettable sequel to her beloved memoirs The Liars' Club and Cherry--and one of the most critically acclaimed books of the year--Lit is about getting drunk and getting sober; becoming a mother by letting go of a mother; learning to write by learning to live.

The Boston Globe calls Lit a book that "reminds us not only how compelling personal stories can be, but how, in the hands of a master, they can transmute into the highest art." The New York Times Book Review calls it "a master class on the art of the memoir" in its Top 10 Books of 2009 Citation. Michiko Kakutani calls it "a book that lassos you, hogties your emotions and won't let you go" in her New York Times review. And Susan Cheever states, simply, that Lit is "the best book about being a woman in America I have read in years."

In addition to the New York Times, Lit was named a Best Book of 2009 by the New Yorker (Reviewer Favorite), Entertainment Weekly (Top 10), Time (Top 10), the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor, Slate, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the Seattle Times.

Publisher: New York : Harper, c2009.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780060596989
Characteristics: x, 386 p. ; 24 cm.


From the critics

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Jun 01, 2017

Beautifully written, but I admit I couldn't finish it. I didn't realize it was a Christian conversion story. I'm glad she recovered, but I quit reading when the story shifted to tons of prayer. Not my cup of tea.

Mar 16, 2016

I read this in about 4 days. I seriously couldn't put it down. Karr makes me want to laugh, cry, sigh, and write my own memoir. I am telling all my friends to read this book--it's that good.

FindingJane Dec 10, 2015

Alternately harrowing, sad and funny, Ms. Karr’s description of her journey from alcoholism to sobriety and a fresh start on her life is a scintillating memoir. Her use of language is startling, original and an absolute delight to read. She has a way with metaphor and simile that shows her as the mature writer she has become. At times, you wonder why she was so self-deprecating about her own work.

But, like a lot of famous artists, her drinking both informed her writing and threatened to derail her life. Her details about the steps she took—therapy, pills, self-help groups, charity work, religion and divorce (which her husband seemed to find more shameful than her drinking)—are intricate, revealing the gradual pathways she took to pull herself from the mire.

However, as a confirmed agnostic, I found the pressure from people around her to pray or seek God for guidance or aid to be unnerving and irritating. (No doubt her friends would state this is more a reflection of my mindset than about God.) The harassment to pray was gentle but nonetheless constant, a wearing down of her resistance, at a time when she had little inner strength to fight it. The passages about how she was apt to drop to her knees in unlikely places made me cringe and reiterated my private notions about how prayer and religion are often the last bastion of the impoverished, needy or desperate.

Still, you are moved by her devotion, her undoubted intelligence and the inner fortitude she gains through prayer and the search for meaning in her life. What ultimately earns this book its high stars are her reconnection with family, her wish to make amends or get in touch with her distant father, her enraged, crazed mother and her reliable but seemingly cool-tempered sister.

Prayer aside, this is a gripping record of one woman’s journey through fire and coming out the other side triumphant.

PrimaGigi Oct 09, 2011

It's an enjoyable read.

Algonquin_Lisa Feb 24, 2011

A never self-pitying memoir of a writer's battle with alcoholism. Beautifully written.

Dec 27, 2010

compelling and moving memoir by Mary Karr. Chronicles her battle with alcoholism, dysfunctional family and her embracing of religion. She bears her soul and reveals her worst moments and yet ends on a hopeful note. highly recommended.

Nov 25, 2010

An excellent book on alcoholism, recovery, and becoming a writer.


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