If you can’t get to the Miami Book Fair this weekend — and I can’t, dammit — you can at least live it vicariously by reading some of the many, many talented writers who will appear there. This year I interviewed Mary Karr about her new memoir, Lit, for a piece in The Miami Herald.
I really liked the book — and I’m not one of those people who devour memoirs. It’s honest, it’s funny and it’s really well-written. It’s about Karr becoming an alcoholic, becoming sober and becoming a Roman Catholic. Thus the title — Lit — which can refer both to being drunk and being filled with faith. But it was only after I finished the book that I realized the title has a third meaning — Lit as in literary — because this book is also about Karr becoming a writer. Somehow she managed, even while struggling with alcoholism and severe depression, to write enough poetry that was good enough to get legendary publisher New Directions to issue a volume of her work, and for her to get a faculty position at Syracuse University — and that was all before publication of The Liars’ Club, her first memoir and the one that made her a bestselling writer. This book recounts all that, up to and including the success of The Liars’ Club and what it was like for her to visit her hometown — not very flatteringly portrayed in the book — on book tour.