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- Teresa Says It Loud and Says It Proud: I WRITE ROMANCE NOVELS!!!
- CHRISTINA DODD SAYS “IT’S CHRISTMAS! DUCK!”
- Teresa Needs Your Help to Choose the SEXIEST MAN DEAD!
I don’t read a lot of memoirs. Which is weird, because I’m one of those people who loves to listen to others talk about their lives, especially lives that are vastly different from my own. I can sit in a room with my mom, my aunt and my two great-aunts for hours and not say a word, because listening to them reminisce is just too fascinating to interrupt. This is probably why I enjoyed THE LIARS’ CLUB by Mary Karr so much--her life was completely different from mine in so many ways. Another reason I enjoyed it so much is that it’s one of the finest written books I’ve ever read.
To say Mary Karr had it tough growing up in a backwater East Texas refinery town would be reducing to a cliché what was actually a full, rich childhood brimming with color and character. But I realized belatedly after deciding to blog on this book that to reveal too many details would be to cheat the reader out of one of the most powerful reads she’ll ever have. So much of what happens to young Mary is shocking and painful and hits you like a freight train. It would be unfair of me to tell you enough to prepare you for the impact. So I ain’t gonna.
I will say that as a girl, Karr was devoted to her father, a hard-drinking, rough-not-just-around-the-edges charmer, but he was too often absent, thanks to his job working on an oil rig. Her mother was, at best, manic/depressive and, at worst, something far, far worse, and her mood swings led to everything from life-threatening situations to sudden moves across the country. The small community, like so many, shrugged its shoulders and left the family alone, until one fateful night when they couldn’t afford to do that any longer. It is on this night that Karr begins her story.
There are times when the book can be kind of difficult to read. What gets you through is the knowledge, unequivocal, that Mary Karr turned out just fine. So fine, in fact, that she became a prize-winning poet and literature professor at Syracuse University. More important, she is able to look back on her life with the eye of the poet and find the beauty in the ugliness, the joy in the pain, the humor in the hopelessness. The book is, in essence, funny, irreverent, insightful, and it leaves the reader feeling good, not bad. The realization that one woman came out of such a volatile family situation and can look back on much of it fondly is the perfect illustration of the triumph of the human spirit.
We all go through rough patches in life. Often, those patches change us at our very core. Sometimes, we never get over them. THE LIARS’ CLUB shows us, however, that we can survive those rough patches, even the very, very bad ones, and we can ultimately be happy. In spite of how different young Mary’s life was from my own, I felt connected to her in so many ways as I read, nodding and sympathizing with many of her reactions. I realized that, even though I couldn’t imagine going through some of the things she did, I understood her reactions perfectly. Because, like Mary, I’m human. I know, at least, how that feels.