Book Review: Lit


Mary Karr


400 pages

I am not a fan of modern literature.  I don’t read it by choice, so I haven’t read any since college.  So I am not at all familiar with Karr’s poetry.  Years ago, by some chance, I came across her first two memoirs, The Liars Club and Cherry.  I am guessing the whole “coming of age” backdrop is what convined me to give them a try, but it’s been so long I can’t say for sure.  Whatever it is that enticed me, I wasn’t let down.  Both of Karr’s previous memoirs were phenomenal, and I practically inhaled them.  So when I heard about Lit, I knew I couldn’t pass it up.

Lit begins in Mary Karr’s late teen years and continues on through her marriage and the birth of her son.  Karr eventually is overcome by her alcoholism and must face her addiction while also dealing with her failing marriage.

The union between Karr and her husband, also a poet, was one of the most interesting aspects of the book, as well as one of the most infuriating.  The chasm that continued to grow between Karr and her husband was hard to swallow.  They both seemed to give into the space that was enveloping them.  Oftentimes tou hear couples say that they just “grew apart”, and nothing could be more fitting in this instance.

I also was very interested in Karr’s foray into organized religion towards the end of the book.  She had been very unsure about churches and their traditions up until her son asks to go to church out of the blue.  Karr indulges her son but brings along her book to every church service to occupy herself, until one day when she becomes enthralled with the mass in a local Catholic church.  As someone who has recently converted to Catholicism, I was able to relate a lot to what Karr found appealing. 

I enjoyed Lit–I wouldn’t say it lived up to Karr’s first two memoirs, but it was still a worthwhile read.  I think the whole idea of a memoir on alcoholism is a little old at this point–Dry and A  Million Little Pieces have already worn that path for me–and I think that’s what caused Lit to be a tad lackluster.  Karr is a strong, virtuous woman and her journey through alcoholism is an inspiration, but at times I got bored. 

Other Reviews:

Bookin’ with Bingo

Killin’ Time Reading

I borrowed this book from my local library.

4 Responses

  1. I’ve heard so much about this one but your review was the first mention I’ve seen of two prior memoirs. I could practically complete the memoir challenge just with her life! I’m looking forward to reading this at some point.

  2. LIt’s been getting such great press I had thought to pick it up. But knowing that there are previous memoirs that are better, I think I’ll look for those instead.

  3. I bought this when our Borders Express was going out of business and I’m anxious to read it. I haven’t read Karr’s other books, so I’ll have nothing to measure it by.

  4. I read this and thought it wasn’t as strong as “Liar’s Club” but it was kind of harrowing. Her marriage was weird though wasn’t it?

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