The Write Idea


Dear Mary Karr

Filed under: book review — ljcollins @ 11:45 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Dear Mary Karr,

I take it all back. Well, maybe not all. I did say you create beautiful sentences and so forth. I stayed up much of last night to finish Lit. I sobbed and laughed and stopped again and again, breathless as I read and re-read some of those amazing sentences you can spin. I even fell to my knees in prayer at one point. (When in the world was the last time I actually prayed on my knees?) You have written a fantastically gorgeous story of addiction and recovery–which is to say of brokenness and healing, of insanity and sanity, of sin and redemption. Thank you.

Thank you for your honesty about how ugly life can really be. Thank you for the humility you wrestled so long to avoid. Thank you for the commitment to your craft that makes your story not only true, but also beautiful. Thank you for daring to get sober and get help and then for daring to tell us how shitty it really felt.

I don’t know if I would have appreciated this story as fully had I not read The Liars’ Club, so I don’t know if I should tell folks to read that book first, though it lacks the simplicity and clarity of this one, or whether I should tell them to skip on ahead to the best stuff. Either way, I’ll be sure to tell them to read Lit.

I’m sorry you had to live through it all, from the crazy childhood through the mental ward, but given that you did, I’m glad you turned it into something not simply entertaining, but saving.

Yes, saving. I’ve heard plenty of sermons in my 48 years, but it’s a rare one that sends me straight to my knees. So, thank you.

Your friend,



  1. But… you had to get through a previous book about which you felt “meh” to get to this point. Maybe she needs an editor?

    Comment by PJ — 07/28/2011 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

  2. Yeah, I still think her first book needed to move more quickly through those two years of her life. This one covers 22 years in fewer pages. It was also published 14 years after the first book. Which is to say, she had 14 more years of experience writing and it shows. Also, part of this later story is learning that she was writing that earlier story while dealing with early sobriety, depression, divorce, etc. I think the maturity that came through the hardship shows up here. Part of her getting sober included needing to look honestly at the wounds of those horrible early years and she looked at them *long and hard* in that book. Which is not to say that The Liar’s Club is all “look at how hard I had it” or simply an exercise in therapy — not at all. But I certainly found that I wanted to get past those years more quickly than the book allowed. The pace of this one felt completely different to me.

    Comment by ljcollins — 07/28/2011 @ 2:13 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: