Other literary forms
Although Mary Karr has written several acclaimed volumes of poetry, she is best known as the author of The Liars’ Club: A Memoir (1995), her best-selling memoir of growing up in the 1960’s in a dysfunctional family in southern Texas. The Liars’ Club breathed new life into the genre of the memoir, and critics praised it for its searing recollection of both the joys and sorrows of a childhood no one would have chosen. Karr eloquently creates a lyric portrait of an ugly place and time that she recalls with ferocious love. Critics also admired the poetic precision of language and vision of the world that animates The Liars’ Club. In Cherry: A Memoir (2000), Karr continues the story of her life, this time chronicling her tumultuous teenage years. With her characteristic poetic intensity, Karr narrates her sexual awakenings, her rebellions, and her struggles to find her true self in a small Texas town and in the expansive hippie and surfer cultures of 1970’s Los Angeles. In Lit: A Memoir (2009), Karr explores her descent into alcoholism and madness and her journey from sinner to Roman Catholic with the same lyrical force of her earlier books. As in many of her later poems in Sinners Welcome and her essay, “Facing Altars: Poetry and Prayer,” she probes deeply into the relationship between spirituality, substance abuse, depression, and writing.