30 Book Challenge: Book That Changed My Life, Book that is Most Like Your Life:
I agree with fellow blogger Beverly Penn on this one: all books have some impact, whether great or small. However, Mary Karr truly touched me with her honest and funny story. I completely related to her small-town roots contrasting with attempts to be smarter, more capable, richer-anything but the person she had grown up to be.
I was laughed, cried, empathized, questioned, and was inspired. I saw that a person with experiences so similar to my own had benefited from placing together the broken pieces of a life she felt was in shambles. True, no one may care or want to read it. But even if it’s just for therapy, Karr’s memoir inspired me to write one of my own. That is some powerful stuff!
Mary Karr writes an impeccably gritty an familiar memoir about growing up, family,academia, marriage, addiction, friends, tumultuous relations with her mother and personal growth as a follow up to her previous successes, The Liar’s Club (1995) and Cherry (2000) with Lit (2009). She starts with an apology to her son for her mistakes as a mother, while at the same time mentioning that by watching an old tape of his grandmother’s antics, she is certain he is on the verge of understanding her. Now, with this memoir, she hopes to provide him the full package, an explanation, or at least a regrettable timeline of her missteps. In recalling her darkest days, thoughts, and relationships, Karr exposes to the world what few, even in the form of a memoir are willing to show. There is a blatant and unapologetic honesty regarding much of her past and background that is necessary to complete such a daunting task. At the same time, she admits just how difficult it is for her to acknowledge her own role in the problems she faces- it’s easier to blame luck, parental influence, and the privileged rich society surrounding her at all turns. It isn’t until she turns into a helpless drunk, like the mother she never wanted to become, with no hope or pride remaining, that she decides to allow others to help before all is lost.
There are several reasons Karr composes an excellent memoir. One of the most key aspects of her authority as a writer comes from her lack of inhibition. For instance, she begins recalling her troubles as she lies -on the verge- of passing out- smack on the floor in the apartment she shares with her husband, Warren, and their toddler, Dev. A list of her on-going current issues follows. Despite the seriousness of the scene, as with many others in the text, Karr allows humor to shine through the pain of the memory, commenting on the noise from ‘the landlords, The Loud family…Double- dog damn them(8).’ Included in the rant on the issues which have lead her to her current state, ‘Problem four-minor but ongoing-I’m just a smidge further in the bag tonight than I’d planned on (9).’ While Karr does sometimes reflect that she feels shame and guilt while the actions and emotions in the text take place, she writes without leaving anything to the reader’s imagination. It is obvious; then, that painful though it may be to reveal her most shocking secrets to the world, it is necessary and even therapeutic.