Earlier this week I read in The Paris Review a fascinating interview with Mary Karr, author of the bestselling and critically praised memoirs The Liars' Club, Cherry and, most recently, Lit. Susan Cheever called Karr's latest "the best book about being a woman in America I have read in years" and went on to say in her New York Times review of Lit that "Karr is not focused on what's been done to her or on how she feels; she is focused on what she can coax you to feel."
Yet even with Karr's previous success in the genre behind her, writing her latest memoir—about becoming sober and converting to Catholicism—wasn't an easy process. Before Karr finished Lit, Amanda Fortini, who interviewed her for The Paris Review, asked about the memoir. Karr replied, "It circles me like a gnat. I circle it like a dog staked to a pole. Years it's gone on that way." In fact, it took her seven years to write the book, and she threw away almost 1,000 manuscript pages—on two separate occasions, she tossed about 500 pages. "The second time devastated me," Karr told Fortini. "I felt so scooped out and lost. I moped around for three days in scuzzy clothes, ordering Indian food and giving God the finger." Happily, all her hard work paid off.
You can hear Karr describe Lit in her own words in the book trailer below.
To learn about Karr's literary influences
while she was growing up, including where she gets her colorful turns of phrase from, read an excerpt from the Paris Review
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