Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day Nineteen: Lit

It's Day Nineteen in The 24 Days of Books. Today we're talking about Lit, the third memoir from author Mary Karr. Lit follows The Liar's Club, which told the story of her messed up childhood, and Cherry, which told the story of her messed up adolescence. And guess what? Her initial attempts at adulthood were pretty messed up too, as she turns to alcohol just about the time her alcoholic mother quits drinking. The good news is that despite all of this messing up, an area where Karr definitely doesn't mess up is in her writing. The book does not fall into the self-indulgent trap and is instead howlingly funny in places and is full of acute self-awareness and acceptance of responsibility for bad choices.

Lit tells the story of her growing alcoholism, the collapse of her marriage to an Ivy League WASP husband, the birth of her son (now grown), and her descent into depression and thoughts of suicide. As she endeavors to move away from drinking, she finally -- and rather reluctantly -- embraces Catholicism. And she writes about it even more reluctantly, saying "Talking about spiritual activity to a secular audience is like doing card tricks on the radio."

This memoir offers a great read for someone on your "gift list." For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

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