Friday, November 12, 2010


So, today I'm flipping through the pages of Lit, a memoir by Mary Karr (author of The Liar's Club and Cherry). I read Lit a couple of weeks ago, and am now making notes on it for my VCFA advisor.

Lit has received numerous accolades. According to the back cover, it was named "Best Book of the Year" for publications from The New Yorker to The Washington Post.

And it was good -- quite good, actually. It held my interest and maintained a level of honesty that many authors never reach. But would I consider it a "Best Book of the Year"? I don't know.

I did find some great writing advice, though -- such as these words of wisdom regarding the reliability of memory:

“Decades ago, I trained myself to mistrust [my own] perceptions. No doubt [I] projected as many pixels on to the world’s screen as [I] took in. So while I trust the stories I recall in broad outline, the interpretation through my old self is suspect” (88).

And this bit of advice regarding writing about oneself (as given to Karr by Tobias Wolff, author of This Boy's Life):

“Tell your stories and your story will be revealed… Don’t be afraid of appearing angry, small-minded, obtuse, mean, immoral, amoral, calculating, or anything else. Take no care for your dignity” (248).

Have you read Lit? Would you recommend it?

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