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The Liar's Club, Again

"Again" because I was talking about it last week in this post, when I had only read 60 or 70 pages. Now I've finished it. 

I'm still not sure that it's right to expose other people so very intimately to the world, but I gather that the main characters apart from herself who are still living, her mother and her sister, were at least accepting of it. (Her father, an extremely important  member of the cast, died before Karr wrote the book.)

And I'm still a little skeptical as to whether she could truly remember so much, still suspecting that she must have filled in a lot of detail from imagination and general knowledge of the people (including herself) and places. If not, it's the work of a truly prodigious memory, and I suppose some people do have such gifts.

And there are certain things about her style that aren't entirely to my taste. But the energy and fecundity of her prose, especially her rendering of the visual, are extraordinary. I mentioned in that other post that I was set upon by envy very soon after I started reading The Liar's Club, and that aspect of it, the visual, is what I envy most. It is a book filled with pain and could have been almost unbearable. For that matter, never mind the book, the bare story could have been almost unbearable. I am not a fan of the "misery memoir" which has been a sort of trend for some time now, but this one (which I think was one of the first) certainly justifies its existence by its enormous merit. It is quite a book. I recommend it.

Mary Karr converted to Catholicism--in 1996, I read somewhere, which would be not long after The Liar's Club was published. A subsequent memoir, Lit, apparently goes into that, and curiosity may compel me to read it. But not right away. 



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I read all of these memoirs because I read a post about Lit on this blog. ;-)


You did?!? I have no memory of mentioning it.

I'm only finding mentions of her in comments by you. This seems to be the first one, which is literally just a mention:

Then there's this one, which goes into more detail:

You read a review of Lit and I am pretty sure that you posted some quotes, and linked to the review.


I'm not being picky btw. It just disturbs me a little when I have zero, absolutely zero, memory of writing about this or that. Forgetting itself is ok, and happens fairly often, but then it comes back when I'm reminded. It's when the latter doesn't happen that I feel uneasy.

Ah, I see that I did in fact mention her first in the comments on that first post above:

:Somewhere on the net some months ago I read a bit of someone's memoir about coming/returning to the Church. There's no way I could find it again, of course, but I think she was a new convert, not a revert, but I'm not sure. And apparently she'd had a pretty crazy alcoholic life, and she talked about how excited she was that they, the Church, would let her in. I wonder if that was Mary Carr, come to think of it."

Then you corrected my spelling of her name. :-)

That was supposed to be a quotation mark before "Somewhere"

Actually now I wonder if I was actually thinking of Heather King when I wrote that comment. Because I *think* I remember King making that "happy they let me in" comment. Or maybe it was both of them.

Karr's is a very complicated Catholicism, which she talked about in an interview in Image.

There's also this interesting bit about her memory: "I was depressed most of my life. I grew up in a household where there was a lot of fear and anxiety, with intermittent respites. It wasn’t horrible. My mother’s psychotic episode, which I’ve written about, was a one-night incident; it didn’t happen fifty times. Because of that anxiety I have a very powerful adrenal system. I’m on alert a lot, which a doctor recently suggested may account for my good memory. I saw the world like a worried animal, as something to defend against."

Plausible, I guess. Have you read the book? If so you'll probably understand my questioning.

"Complicated," indeed. Sort of thought it might be. I've never seen her name mentioned in that sort of trophy list of converts that we tend to come up with. I'm not especially bothered by her doctrinal heterodoxy. Clearly it's far better for her to be in the Church than outside. And there's a whole lot that she really gets. I don't really consider it my business if lay people have bad doctrinal notions. It's those in authority who teach falsely whom I object to.

Haven't read Liar's Club, but I picked up Lit at the library once and read some of it. I'm always drawn to memoirs, but also feel a bit guilty because it's like peeking into really personal stuff that's maybe best left personal.

Totally agree re not being bothered much by her "doctrinal heterodoxy", and about the truly bad guys in that respect.

The other day, I wanted to check out LC and Cherry from the library because there was a particular scene I wanted to find and I didn't know which book it was in. I found Cherry, but LC wasn't there. Then the next day, a patron came in with LC and wanted to renew it. Rats. Anyway, what a coincidence.


And speaking of memoirs, I am reading The Joy of the Snow by E. Goudge. It is delightful. Has anyone (besides Mary) read it?


I haven't. I'd probably like it. I'm reading Sally Read's Night's Bright Darkness now, almost through with it and will post something aboutit when I'm done.

What was the Mary Karr scene? It's been little enough time since I read LC that I might remember it, if it's in there. Or maybe you've already found it in Cherry.

I just had a thought about what you might think about LBD. But maybe you won't.

Is there a scene in LC where her mother is standing in the girls' bedroom door?


Almost certainly. :-) I put it like that because there are certainly scenes where the mother is in some way dealing with the girls in ways ranging from commonplace to totally freaky. I don't remember specifically about the bedroom part.

Oh wait, a quick check reveals that yes, that fits one of the really freaky scenes. The freakiest, I guess.

Okay. I was thinking that was in the second book.


The only "misery memoir" I have read is Educated by Tara Westover. Has anyone else read it? It was very well written and enjoyable despite all that happens to her, but books like this wear me out and compel me back to fiction.

"books like this wear me out" is a good description of the way I felt after reading Mary Karr. No, I haven't read the Westover book, but I did read a description of it. Sounds interesting but I think I'll pass.

Well, T least Karr is headed toward a good ending.


Do you mean Westover is not? The thing I read didn't go into much detail.

I have no idea. I just like where she ended up.


I just noticed the post about the search engine.


I should have left it at the top for a day or two. Even more, I should do something about the search.

Rob recommended something he compared with The Detectorists but I have no idea where the comment is. Does anybody remember the name of the show?


Hunt for the Wilderpeople.


I like memoirs, but of a different sort. For instance, I just finished this:

Re: Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the things that for me call Detectorists to mind are a similar verbal humor and the odd but endearing characters (like Simon and Garfunkel even the "villains" are funny). Plot-wise it's something quite different. But the banter between the kid and his uncle reminds me of Andy and Lance.

Has anyone read Laurie Lee?


I read 'Cider for Rosie' a long time ago (at least 15 years) but don't remember it much. I've been meaning to read it again but haven't got to it.

The first thing I ever read along these lines was Flora Thompson's 'Lark Rise to Candleford,' which I must've read sometime in the mid-to-late 90's.

I haven't read any of those.

Rob, I think you would like The Joy of the Snow. I asked about Lee because Goudge quotes him in the book.


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