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The Liars' Club by Mary Karr

The Liars' Club (1995)

by Mary Karr

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Karr sets up the entire point of this memoir (and, apparently, the next two memoirs) via the introduction by pointing out that all families are dysfunctional, in some way, mainly because we're all human and we all have secrets and we all have things we fear. It's the degree of dysfunction that makes her particular life so engaging to read about.

Now, there are parts of her life story that are abysmally awful, that no one would wish upon anyone. They are, likely and sadly, common tales, especially from young girls - tales of sexual abuse. Karr treats these parts of her story differently from stories about her mom and dad and sister. She just... describes them. And lets the reader decide how he/she feels about their impact on Karr's life.

Everything else is treated so differently - poetically, in fact. It's not surprising that Karr is attempting to wring meaning out of why her mom would throw all their dresses on a big bonfire. Or what it meant when her dad told slightly fallacious stories to his friends at the Liars' Club. Or how her sister's personality helped shape who Karr is as a person, inside this family.

So the difference in treatment comes down to this - you can't wring meaning out of sexual abuse. It happened, and if you're lucky, you can move on. But the family memories - of what you did together as a family - those make you who you are and help you grow and understand yourself throughout your life (and their lives). ( )
  khage | Feb 28, 2016 |
Rambling, disjointed, and generally uninteresting memoir. Strange family life of course with the obligatory crazy stories. Not impressed. ( )
  deldevries | Jan 31, 2016 |
Fabulous. ( )
  pagewright | Aug 24, 2015 |
Although I picked this book for Bookclub, I really did not care for it.... ( )
  Swissmama | Apr 8, 2015 |
This is actually well-written, and I generally like memoirs like this- at least I used to. But this book just didn't grab me at all. I was fighting it for about 60 pages, and decided to stop- life's too short.
Someone recommended I read "Lit", a memoir of her later life, so I thought I'd read this one first so as to be chronologically appropriate, but I guess I'll never get to "Lit".
I give it 2 stars because I don't think it's a bad book- I'd pick it up again if I had nothing else- but it wasn't gripping enough. ( )
  DanTarlin | Feb 9, 2015 |
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My sharpest memory is of a single instant surrounded by dark.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143035746, Paperback)

In this funny, razor-edged memoir, Mary Karr, a prize-winning poet and critic, looks back at her upbringing in a swampy East Texas refinery town with a volatile, defiantly loving family. She recalls her painter mother, seven times married, whose outlaw spirit could tip into psychosis; a fist-swinging father who spun tales with his cronies--dubbed the Liars' Club; and a neighborhood rape when she was eight. An inheritance was squandered, endless bottles emptied, and guns leveled at the deserving and undeserving. With a raw authenticity stripped of self-pity and a poet's eye for the lyrical detail, Karr shows us a "terrific family of liars and drunks ... redeemed by a slow unearthing of truth."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:10 -0400)

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The author, a poet, recounts her difficult childhood growing up in a Texas oil town.

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