Mary Karr

Home Before Dark is a regular reader and frequent commenter on Mrs. Blandings. Her comments have always rung true to me. They are thoughtful. I wish I were equally consistent. She emailed me after a post, I’ve forgotten which one, and said, “You should read Mary Karr.” I’m quite sure I wrote Karr’s name down somewhere, but nowhere that I have run across since.

Then, in Colorado Springs, being held hostage on my way back from California, I made a brief escape. An hour, perhaps two. And to where did I flee? A bookstore. Not any bookstore, but a used bookstore in an inauspicious shopping center. I lingered longer than I ought. I was eavesdropping on the owner, a man who I assume refers to himself as the Bookman, as he talked to a regular customer about a book, the name of which she had forgotten. The plot, also, was fuzzy; she would bring it in. He talked with her about it pleasantly for a very long time. And then they visited about his cat, who happened to be there and didn’t seem to mind at all that she was being discussed.
I wandered up and down the aisles, with no particular book in mind, wondering how in the world used book stores make the rent and being forever glad that they do. I’ve noticed, in these situations, the wandering ones (much like this post), the right volume tends to fall into my hands. I did glance at design books first, and there were some fine offerings, but none that I needed so I headed to memoir. For someone who avoided non-fiction for forty years or more, I’ve read nearly nothing since for the last three.
And there she was. Mary Karr. Wasn’t that the author that HBD had suggested? I thought it was. So I bought both the Liars’ Club and Cherry and headed back up the mountain. It seems remarkable to me that the very small town (it is not a town, really, but a sign on the side of the road) where my husband’s family has vacationed for nearly one hundred years is the very same spot where Karr’s mother took her children when she left their father.
I gobbled them both then bought lit. Hers is a remarkable story and she is a wonderful writer. I recommend the books and the Bookman; their works have heart.
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13 thoughts on “Mary Karr

  1. You must have sent me a "thought wave"! (that is what my divine mother would have called it!)

    I ordered that book…..and it arrived…….and I will read it…..soon.

    I don't think you wrote about it… came 6 days ago.

    I will do a book report.


  2. Mary Karr's books are waiting for me – I went to a talk she gave last spring at a local university – she was funny and engaging and wonderful to listen to – i got Lit out of the library and planned to read each one of the three books in quick succession and then a crazy spring and summer…and then i decided to finish up some knitting projects -when i knit, i tend not to read…so i will flip the switch since i am finished one sweater and almost finished a second and go back to reading and mary karr will be first on the list. Thanks for the impetus to get back to reading.

  3. I have had Mary Karr on my READ! list for years…Sometimes I consume books like that and other times I linger – for years – waiting – knowing instinctively that I will identify a little too much – and it scares me, I think. It would seem that it is time, since she it feels like she is stalking me.

  4. Patricia – we are lucky to have her in our circle.

    Penny – I haven't written about it before so we are definitely on the same wave length. Love to know what you think.

    Marnie – I do wish I could hear her speak and am almost sick with the thought that perhaps she was here to promote lit and I missed it. I'm too afraid to look. I think you will enjoy each and every one.

    Colleen – while Karr's experience was more extreme than mine, there were a lot of common threads. In lit she mentions a few times that sitting in AA meetings she thinks something like, "at least I/it wasn't THAT bad." I had that thought myself several times while reading her books. Her life is a remarkable accomplishment.

  5. Yes, all true. But quickly as I swing by I must say: Mary is a poet. As in a real one. Those of us in the poetry world love her memoir(s) but want people to know, remember, find out…that she's a poet. Thanks for the post.


  6. I'm glad Mary Karr finally found you, Mrs. B. I am a big believer in what I call book synchronicity, of books finding us when we didn't even know we were looking for them. I believe in the power of the word, of books opening worlds beyond worlds, of little girls who have a powerful need to use words to make sense of the world they have to grow up in. Poets used to be viewed as shamans who bridged the spiritual with the human world, who used words to cure and heal. And with Mary Karr you get healing stories told with heart and grit and more than few side splitting laughs. By the way, I absolutely know you and Nora Ephron would be instant friends. I think you and Mary Karr would be, too.

  7. Feeling a tad sheepish, as her name does not ring any bells to me. But, I love a good book, so I'm glad to learn of hers.


  8. Isn't this the way with books! Reminds me of quote from Mary Ann Shaffer:

    "Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers."

    — The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


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