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Mary Karr tells the story of her failed marriage, her struggles with alcohol and mental illness, and the peace she finally found in prayer.

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Mary Karr has published four acclaimed volumes of poetry, but she’s most famous as a memoirist – particularly for her 1995 award-winning bestseller “The Liars’ Club,” which was followed by “Cherry,” a reminiscence of her adolescent years. Karr’s latest memoir is Lit, which recounts her failed marriage, bouts with alcoholism and mental illness, and her unlikely conversion to Roman Catholicism.

No reader could be faulted for suffering from Memoir Fatigue Syndrome, considering how saturated that genre has become. Everyone in our reality television-infested era, it seems, has a story to tell. What distinguishes Karr’s book from most others, however, is her mordant humor and exceptional writing. Throughout, her descriptions are startling and poetic: the sound of her infant son’s cough in the night “pierces the heavy sleep that wraps my skull in sodden layers of papier-mâché.” And each day of sobriety feels like “a gray tundra I wade across.” The grievous legacy of her parents is described in similarly stark terms: “Daddy was steady and stayed. Mother was an artist and left. Those two opposing colossi tore a rip in my chest I can’t seem to stitch shut.”


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