Thursday, March 12, 2009 By: Suzanne

The Liar's Club: New Classics Challenge #2


This wonderful, inappropriately funny book took me an absurdly long time to finish. Not sure why, because I did like the book, but I had no "need" to read as I normally do with books I enjoy. (I just started Duma Key by Stephen King today and am already on page 57, even with working!) Maybe it's because I just don't really like non-fiction. I've never been able to finish a biography. I find people's lives really interesting but I would prefer to learn about them through documentaries, not literary biographies. I've read very few memoirs. I enjoyed them, but still don't go out looking for the next memoir.

This is Mary Karr's story of her tumultuous early childhood, mainly from the years of 1961 - 63. We get to live with her through her parents turbulent marriage, divorce, and reconciliation; her grandmother's overly orderly and abusive presence during a time when she's diagnosed with cancer; her families chaotic traditions; her mother's ultimate breakdown; and the many other crazy things that could have damaged a child without Karr's internal strength.

The book begins with Karr and her older sister being taken from home by the sheriff. We know that something terrible has just happened and we know that her mother is in a psych hospital for a "nervous condition." Throughout the story we're given glimpses of her mother's slow slide into "nervousness," just as a child might see small glimpses but not be able to see the whole picture until much later. We're also told about some mystery in her mother's past that is either caused by her "nervousness" or is the the cause of it. The most beautiful and poignant moment comes near the end when Karr, as an adult, finally confronts her mother. I actually cried. Of course that's not so difficult, I cry at sappy commercials too. It's truly sad.

If you like to read about other people pain, I definitely recommend this book. Otherwise, read it anyway. It's a good book!

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