Mary Karr

Anyone read Lit by Mary Karr, or some of her other works? Thoughts?

No, I haven’t. But I understand that she has had a ferocious life and reveals it in a compelling fashion in her three memoirs. She is an acclaimed and author and poet.

In Lit, she describes her descent into alcoholism and conversion to Catholicism, leading to recovery.

“Lit” is about many things: the resolution of her relationship with her mother and father, her struggle for recognition as a writer, her inability to unfreeze her marriage. But mostly it’s about alcohol and faith — about an intellectually arrogant woman who’s too proud to surrender and too smart to believe. In the last half of her book, she does both.

HuffPo has an interesting interview with her

Okay, let’s deal with this religious conversion of yours. In your childhood, you write, the bookstore in Port Arthur sold gold-rimmed Bibles and dashboard Christs…

…and I was completely immune to religion. I thought it was like the Easter bunny. I was in the 5th grade before I got that people were serious about God — I thought the whole thing was a social convention. I had no idea people believed this made-up stuff.

**You write about a “carnal” Christianity. And I think of Manet’s painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dead Christ with Angels. Seeing it was the first time I thought of Christ as real — real enough to be a corpse.
I didn’t get Jesus either. I came in on the Holy Spirit, this vague force for benevolence. When I got baptized, I thought Jesus had too many barnacles. He was not a smart guy. He was unnecessarily ****ed up. Then I did thirty weeks of St. Ignatius’s spiritual exercises, and I got a sense of Jesus as a human unit.

Toward the end of the book, you’re assigned two Bible passages. You open your mother’s Bible and find — like an arrow shot across 70 years — that she marked them both when she was a kid. And no other passages in the book are marked. You say: “I know how specifically designed we are for each other.” In essence, aren’t you saying that God holds us all in the palm of His hand?

It’s the Reinhold Niebuhr quote: “We’re put on earth a little while to learn to bear the beams of love.”

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