"Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes." -- Job 42:6
Lit is the third in a series of sequential memoirs by poetess Mary Karr who also wrote the much acclaimed books, The Liar's Club and Cherry. If you haven't read those two, do so before you even think about picking up this one.
If you liked The Liar's Club and Cherry, you owe it to yourself to read Lit and to get a sense of where she was at in her life when The Liar's Club was penned. You'll have a deeper sense of that book when you know more about her life as a writer.
Lit picks up Ms. Karr's life where Cherry left off and continues on through the stunning success of The Liar's Club.
Ms. Karr's sense of these years is murky due to her extreme alcoholism and withdrawal from people other than her young son. Her problems seem directly related to continued fallout from her troubled childhood, for which she developed few helpful coping mechanisms. Having fallen into a marriage that's not what she expected, she's angry about her life . . . angry enough to think about doing something about it. But she finds events moving her more than she moves events.
To me one of the most rewarding parts of this book come in the sections where Ms. Karr stops running from God and starts to develop a relationship with Him. That part of the book makes for a most moving and effective testimony for the power of God's grace.
As before, the writing is brutally honest . . . but it's not so much funny as chilling and angrily self-absorbed. Having known some hard-core alcoholics in my time, the portrayal definitely rang true. I probably would have liked the book better if the falling down and crashing parts had been shorter and the getting up and doing something about myself parts had been longer and less reluctantly shared.
Remember that God loves you, no matter what you do.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Donald Mitchell. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.