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June 02, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

THE LIARS' CLUB by Mary Karr (Penguin: $11.95; 320 pp., illustrated). In this best-selling memoir, poet Mary Karr traces the disintegration of her eccentric family. Her memories crystallized around the time the sheriff came to her house: "It was only over time that the panorama became animate, like a scene in some movie crystal ball that whirls from a foggy blur into focus." She adored her hard-working, hard-drinking father, but her mother remained a mystery: glamorous, artistic and unstable. Over the years, Karr was able to piece together the tragedy of a woman who married to escape external pressures but found no refuge from her internal demons.

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