May 26, 2006 |
FOR the last century, serious poetry has been largely secular. Literary types see religion as something literature has gotten over. Poets who fail to vanquish any Christian spirituality beyond what is quaint are usually condemned to "inspirational poetry," except poor old T.S. Eliot. But it's his angst that people take seriously, not his prayer. Now, however, two major American poets have declared themselves on the side of God.
October 13, 2000 |
Mary Karr has always had a wobbly relationship with Leechfield, Texas, the town that formed her, nurtured her and, eventually, slingshot her out across the vast desert toward California. Karr first returned to Leechfield in her critically acclaimed memoir, "The Liars' Club"; she does so again in "Cherry," which tells the story of her teenage years and her quest for intimacy in experience, in sex, drugs and the proverbial rock 'n' roll. "If there was any place worthy of escape. .
January 5, 1997
Warren Olney, radio talk show host: "The Liar's Club" by Mary Karr (Viking). "It's appalling and hysterically funny at the same time, a stark reporting of the ghastly facts of a childhood almost inexpressibly shocking, but which, in the end, in Karr's telling, is immensely life-affirming and forgiving." * Doug Dutton, bookseller: "Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance" by Lisa Jardine (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday). "There's nothing better than a well-written history.
January 5, 1997 |
It's question time after a talk by memoirist Mary Karr at the Huntington Library, and a woman in the audience wants to tell a story. It happened, the woman says, when her book club discussed sections of Karr's book, "The Liars' Club," in which she describes being raped at 7 by a neighborhood boy and later being forced to have oral sex with a baby sitter. Every single woman in the group confessed to having suffered physical or sexual abuse as children. "Look at this face," one member said.
July 16, 1995 |
Memoirs inhabit the middle ground between truth and fiction. They can't stick to the facts, and only the facts, because we don't remember past events as clearly as we remember how we felt about them, which is a different kind of truth. And sometimes, as in Mary Karr's memoir about her East Texas childhood, the events themselves are so bizarre, no novelist could get away with them.