What I Just Finished Reading: Lit by Mary Karr

This is actually an ongoing commentary on the book as I read it … not a review really.

Lit: A MemoirLit: A Memoir by Mary Karr

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Reading this for my book club.


If there is a genre I hate, it is that of addicts telling their life stories … yes, even when they come out Christian at the other end. Just like a bad movie made for Christian ends, an angsty book told for Christian ends does nothing for me. First give me good art (story) I say, then worry about what else is in it.

It isn’t that I don’t have sympathy for the people themselves, it is that their books inevitably seem to be all about them (me, me, me … angst and self loathing … then repeat).

I know, this makes me sound harsh. But there you have it.

The only thing worse than that?

Tell it in stream-of-consciousness (which around our house, we call “lazy writer’s syndrome”).

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Lit.

So yes I have a very bad attitude going in and after reading the first four pages I was consciously reminding myself that some book club members read 400 pages of Assam & Darjeeling who never have read fantasy before.

Therefore, I manned up and soldiered on. For another four pages. I didn’t want to actually weep aloud so I stopped reading.

And then I recalled one book club member who skimmed Assam & Darjeeling in 20 minutes and kept insisting that she’d “read” the book … but she had so many other books she was reading that she didn’t have time to properly sit down with this one.


But ok, everyone loves her and we have good manners (unlike this commentary, I realize) and so we politely agreed to her fiction.

Which opened the gate for me to do the same. Almost.

I managed to page through and find where Karr actually goes to her knees to pray and gets a bit of response … and will pick up skimming from there. Although the next meeting isn’t for a few weeks. So there’s no need to actually rush into this or anything (yes, I also enjoy procrastinating in my spare time …)

Full disclosure … I haven’t read the first 200-250 pages. It is just that is the spot from which I am taking the plunge. As quick a plunge as possible. The book club is Monday so I’ve got to begin skimming now!

I must say that I enjoyed the last part of the book fairly well. It didn’t make me want to go back and read the beginning of it, but I have rarely read a better description of one’s interaction with God than the last part of the book. So in the end, I am glad that I read the bit that I did. I’ll be curious to see how everyone else liked it.

No one spoke out as boldly as I did against the beginning of the book, but some others acknowledged similar problems, though they soldiered on and didn’t skip the way I did. We all agreed that the end of the book, from the point I began reading (page 275 for those who are interested) was where the author “came alive.” Obviously this was intentional and reflected the change between the addicted life and a sober life with faith mixed in. However, I’d have liked reading a book that began at that point. Or possibly just a bit before.

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