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The Liars' Club: A Memoir Paperback – May 31, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The book starts with a mystery: Why are police being called to the scene of a young girl's bed? Why is a kindly doctor inspecting her body for "marks?" The books builds a mystery, then takes more than 150 pages bothering to solve it, but by that time you are hooked too deep into the rest of the story to care. You want to find out how the most screwed up family ever to reside in the Lone Star State managed to survive themselves, albeit barely.
While the author is a recognized poet and esteemed college professor, and "The Liars' Club" is widely praised among literary critics, those fearing some pointy-headed exercise in literati snobbery at the expense of slack-jawed Western yokels need not fear. Not that Karr doesn't get in some digs at the rustic Bible-thumpers responsible for so much of her upbringing, but her style of writing is much more akin to Stephen King than Margaret Mead, writing in a real-world way about actual experiences she underwent in a way that will make you feel you underwent them to, whatever your age, sex, or social background. She describes everything from hurricanes to rapes to a child's first gulp of sparkling alcohol with a "you-are-there" veracity that is almost frightening, and hard to pull away from. Only James Ellroy's "My Dark Places" and Mikal Gilmore's "Shot Through The Heart" hold a candle to this in my experience, and I've read a few.
The cruelest thing one has to report about this book is, however savage the author's experience, it never stops being so goddam funny.Read more ›
The Liar's Club may fit that description, but don't be put off, because it's absolutely fantastic. Mary Karr's writing routinely verges on prose-poetry and is, despite its dark subject matter, funny enough to make you laugh out loud. Then, once you're laughing, she turns around and hits you with something so brutal that you're caught up short.
I did find myself wondering, as I'm sure others have, whether some embroidery may have been involved in the author's crystal-clear recollections of events long past. She appears to have kept copious journals, but still, you wonder how anyone could have gotten so much detail down with such precision, especially as a child.
Then again, maybe she's a hyper-sensitive person with a photographic memory. Ultimately I didn't care if parts of it were embellished a bit. She's such a good writer that if this depiction of events captures the truth of her childhood, more power to her. My main reaction was a weirdly worshipful desire to locate Ms. Karr and make her tell me more stories, the ones that didn't make it into this book. (Actually, I'd be surprised if this has not happened to her.)
This book pulls you in. It's funny, poignant, shocking, memorable. I give it five richly deserved stars.
Karr has a gift for spinning a tale, perhaps inherited from her father or honed at gatherings of his friends in "The Liar's Club," a group that met to drink, play cards, and swap stories. And boy, the stories she tells! There's the stories about her mother's manic/pyschotic episodes, including one time when she set her children's belongings on fire, another time when she attempted to drive the family off a bridge, and a third time when she threatened her lazy husband with a gun. Karr also tells about her inconsistent relationship with her father, who suffered a difficult life but emerged, if not unscathed, then unbroken.
Most remarkable about the book, though, are not the amazing stories but the matter of fact, even at times hilarious tone in which they are told. The woman telling these stories is no victim; she is a survivor. A miserable childhood did not cause Mary Karr to surrender her spirit, but rather forged her in fire and made her stronger.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I generally liked this memoir. The people who gave it one star seem to have problems. There a few issues that I have with the book. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Mel R. Scurbica
The book is okay only. Not my favorite. Really don't know how it go the book of the year aware.Published 15 days ago by Linda Louise
well written, parts are hard to read, truly an incredible upbringingPublished 16 days ago by Jamie R. Mulkey
I loved the clarity and. Simplicity that is Mary Karr's trademark. Her narrative grips and propels you from event to event through the book. A great read. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Alfred S. Bonney
Heavy material but wonderfully written, I couldn't stop reading. First time reading this author and I am hooked!Published 24 days ago by CM
Tried several times to read it, but it's difficult to follow with so many thoughts and actions within each sentence and paragraph, which tends to keep the reader confused as the... Read morePublished 26 days ago by Marsha
There's know denying that the writing is good but it was hard to get over the feeling that Mary would sell her relatives souls to get a book deal. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Reader
Not sure if some of the stories may have had a bit of fiction added for an enhanced story.Published 1 month ago by Anna Marie Messerly
Mary Karr is a writer's writer - she just doesn't quit. Her childhood was almost as bad as mine, but I'm not sure I can write about it as well as she did. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Marilyn Wise