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Praise: Mary Karr
  LIT
  The Liars’ Club
  Cherry
  Sinners Welcome
  Viper Rum
 
Praise for Mary Karr:
“As Mary Karr's recent discussant for Weill-Cornell Med School's grand rounds in Psychiatry, I found her lecture--Spiritual Tools for Recovery from Addiction and Depression--smart, funny, and enthusiastically received by scientists often cynical about such subjects. I recommend Lit to my patients approaching recovery, and it's a wonderful tool to begin hard discussions about change. Reading it can be one of the small, estimable acts that helps the addict in early sobriety begin to garner hope that radical healing is possible.” -- Bruce Phariss, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Weill Cornel Medical College
“Mary Karr was a speaker at our Department of Psychiatry Grand Rounds on February 2, 2011. She was fantastic! She was moving, smart, wise, and hilarious. What a combination! Ms. Karr talked about her experiences with addiction and getting sober, focusing on the role of spirituality in recovery. The place was packed with over 300 mental health professionals, many pretty ignorant about the actual experience of recovery. Everyone agreed that it was one of the best Grand Rounds in many years.” -- Elizabeth L. Auchincloss, M.D., Vice-chair, Graduate Medical Education, Department of Psychiatry Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY


“Mary Karr is a pistol, and she brings incredible firepower to the podium with great style, a contagious Texas twang, and a memoir that will knock your socks off - a month later, our audience is still talking about her memorable performance.” -- Jayne Adair, Executive Director, Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures

“Mary Karr was one of the most inspiring speakers we have had in our Symposium’s history. Her raw authenticity, her commitment to her craft, her wit,her graciousness to everyone she met, all combined into a time we will never forget. It’s like she hit a gong of Truth that  keeps reverberating.”
--Dr. Dean Nelson, Director, Journalism Program, Point Loma Nazarene University


“Mary Karr was the best Drue Heinz lecturer at Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures I've seen in 10 years.” --Terrance Hayes, poet and winner of the 2001 National Poetry Series

“Mary Karr is a literary gem. If only her words and wisdom could be distilled into a soft drink, bottled up and sold to struggling writers across the planet. Any writer who drinks from Mary's well wouldn't be ordinary any more. No one on earth can explore the depths of memoir writing better than Mary Karr. Period.” -- George Getschow, Writer-in-Residence, The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference

“Mary Karr was my favorite speaker, and her voice keeps nudging at me as I rework my novel.” -- Joan Sparrow, Mayborn Conference attendee and author

“Mary Karr's wonderful talk at grand rounds [at New York Hospital's Cornell Medical School of Psychiatry] was trenchant, brave, and savagely funny, just as I imagined she might be from reading Lit. As for the neurological realm, [she was] astute about the profoundly important biological heart of addiction: how drugs don't just hijack the reward system, they usurp learning and memory circuits too.” -- Richard F. Friedman, Director, Psychopharmacology Clinic, Weill Cornell Medical College

“Mary Karr's hilarious, hair-raising talk rocked our auditorium of mental health professionals, but she also leant hope with concrete experience gleaned through her 22-year recovery from alcoholism and depression. As the only non-physician on the program, she mesmerized SUNY Upstate Medical University's 15th Annual Psychopharmacology and Addiction Psychiatry Conference describing her downward spiral as a young working mother, which included a stint in what she dubbed The Mental Marriott at 9 months sober. For the audience of psychiatrists, psychopharmacologists, and nurse practitioners, she made real an illness often covered in abstract terms. She even fired a provocative debate with two doctors about the definition of sobriety. Karr's story and her long sobriety make her the ideal speaker for mental health professionals passionate to treat their addicted patients. 'My life was saved by teachers, librarians and mental health professionals,' she claimed. She was an ideal speaker for us.” -- Brian Johnson, Director of Addiction Psychiatry, SUNY Upstate Medical University

“I must say that having Mary Karr at the Allegheny County Jail was one of the highlights of my 28 year career. Mary Karr was one of the most honest people that I have ever met; I spoke with some of the ladies who were at the program and thought she was great and thanked me for letting someone who came and dropped the "F" bomb like her come in and speak.” -- Jack Pischke, Inmate Program Coordinator, Allegheny County Jail

“The inmates got the real deal Mary Karr. She answered questions about her struggles, her personal life, and her motivations about writing. The advice she gave to the inmates (and to me!) was priceless.” -- Sarah Shotland, student teacher at Allegheny County Jail Writing Program

“I attend more poetry readings than the Surgeon General would say is good for anyone’s health, but I always find Mary Karr’s events deeply engrossing and somehow restorative.  She is a very lively presenter who appeals both to devoted readers of her work and newcomers.  Her commentary is delightfully vivid, and her answers to audience questions are always generous, as well as extraordinarily entertaining and educational.  If Horace were still around to write blurbs, he would undoubtedly find Mary Karr’s work to be ‘dulce et utile’—sweet and useful.  What’s true on paper is also true in person.” -- Stephen Young, Poetry Foundation
   
Praise for Lit:
“Searing. . .  [Karr] has written a book that lassos you, hogties your emotions and won’t let you go. . . Explores the subjectivity of memory even as it chronicles with searching intelligence, humor and grace the author’s slow, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes painful discovery of her vocation and her voice as a poet and writer. . . Karr writes with such intensity and poetry. . . This struggle to reconcile her past and present, her family and her future, is the steel-wired ribbon that not only runs through this affecting book, but that also connects it to Ms. Karr’s two earlier memoirs – the bright, elastic thread on which she so deftly strings the colored beads of her tumultuous life.”
  — Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

“[Karr] seems to have been born with the inability to write a dishonest – or boring – sentence.”
— Lev Grossman, Time (Top 10 Citation)

“A master class on the art of the memoir. Mordantly funny, free of both self pity and sentimentality, Karr describes her attempts to untether herself from troubled family in rural Texas, her development as a poet and writer, and her struggles to navigate marriage and young motherhood even as she descends into alcoholism.”
— New York Times Book Review, Top 10 Notable Books Citation

“Howlingly funny… In some ways, Lit is her most intimate book. The overall impression is of a sorrowful narrative poem as humble and funny as it is beautiful. Karr is an ‘inveterate check grabber,’ she tells us, out of ‘the poor girl’s need to prove solvency.’ Perhaps a similar need drives her generosity on the page. Certainly her readers, once again, are the lucky beneficiaries.”
—Mary Pols, Time

“No one should be surprised to find a certain combination of gut-spilling emotional volatility along with the survivor’s keen ability to detach far enough to tell a rollicking story. But the book is more than a recovery memoir. Karr writes unflinchingly about marriage, class, guilt, and the struggle to make peace with her raw, melodramatic, yet wildly interesting past.”
— NPR

“You’d think that after a couple of best-selling memoirs (The Liars’ Club, Cherry), Mary Karr wouldn’t have much more to say about herself.  But Lit shows that a first-rate writer doesn’t need to repeat herself or trump up false epiphanies in order to craft a fascinating autobiography. The book glows with Karr’s descriptions – coming to terms with her alcoholism, her early lean years as a poet and teacher, her chaotic love life – but there’s nothing sentimental or self-congratulatory about her prose.”
—Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly (Best Books Citation)

“Karr could tell you what’s on her grocery list, and its humor would make you bust a gut, its unexpected insights would make you think and her pitch-perfect command of our American vernacular might even take your breath away. The closest relative to the memoir form is poetry, because the subject of the story doesn’t matter as much as the self-awareness and craft of the writer telling it. In this, the Guggenheim Fellow in poetry holds the position of grande dame memoirista.”
— Los Angeles Times

“In a gravelly, ground-glass-under-your-heel voice that can take you from laughter to awe in a few sentences, Karr has written the best book about being a woman in America I have read in years.”
— Susan Cheever, New York Times Book Review

“One of the best memoirists of her generation. . . She is, as always, unsparing in her honesty and humanity. . . [A] radiant, rueful, rip-roaring book. . . Karr writes . . . with a rare vividness, humor, and candor. . .Warm enough to burn a hole in your heart.”
  — Entertainment Weekly

“Scrappy, gut-wrenching. . . Irresistible. . . . [Written] with trademark wit, precision, and unfailing courage.”
— Pam Houston, O Magazine

“This affecting memoir – the third in a series that includes The Liars’ Club and Cherry – documents Karr’s alcoholism, the breakdown of her marriage, and the unlikely redemption she finds in the Catholic Church.”
— The New Yorker

“Mary Karr restores memoir form’s dignity with Lit.”
— Vanity Fair

“A brutally honest, sparkling story.”
—Glamour

“Karr movingly depicts her halting journey into AA, making it clear her grit and spirit remain intact.”
—People (3 ½ out of 4 stars)

“Completes a landmark trio of literary confessionals from best-seller Mary Karr. . . and complements the story of her mother’s destructive drinking that the Texas-born Karr has previously captured so colorfully and painfully. . . [A] body-and-soul-baring memoir.”
— Elle

“Riveting.”
— Redbook

“Lit matches its predecessors in candor and outstrips them in insight. Karr exam-ines her past darkness in the light of the faith and self-knowledge that she spent those years working toward. She lays out her descent into addiction, her process of recovery, and her path to conversion with an honesty that makes it all intelligible to addicts and teetotalers, believers and nonbelievers. As she discerns God’s presence in her life, the hole left by her childhood traumas finally seems to be filled, and the result is something like a miracle… Now she can joke about God and still profess that, for her, belief is a matter of life and death.”
— Commonweal, independent journal of opinion edited and managed by lay Catholics<http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/article.php3?id_article=9&recalcul=oui>
“[Karr] manages to report her self-imposed decline in a blunt and darkly humorous voice that is as irresistible as it is unflinchingly honest. . . With grace, saltiness and profanity galore, Karr undeniably re-establishes herself as one of our finest memoirists and storytellers. . . You do not have to be a rehabilitated drunk or go to church, or have a had a terrible childhood, or get so swept up in a book you forget to let the dog out to pee to find yourself in this book – you have only to be human. Lit is a testament to the healing power of love that beats at the heart of every good story.”
— San Francisco Chronicle

“Karr’s sharp and funny sensibility won me over to her previous two volumes, but what wins me over to Lit is the way her acute self-awareness conquers any hint that hers is the only version of this story. . .  As with all stories that surprise us, the specificity of the account gives it its punch. . . Karr is full of regret, but she’s also as funny as ever on the subject of her own sinning. . .  The language often captures, precisely, the tension between the intellectual and the emotional, the artistic and the spiritual. This is a story not just of alcoholism but of coming to terms with families past and present, with a needy self, with a spiritual longing Karr didn’t even know she possessed. It sounds as if she was hellish to be around for much of the time she describes here, but she is certainly good company now.”
— Washington Post

“With grace, saltiness and profanity galore, Karr . . . re-establishes herself as one of our finest memoirists and storytellers.”
  — San Francisco Chronicle (Best Books Citation)

“Dazzling. . . Karr is the real thing. . . Ultimately, Lit reminds us not only how compelling personal stories can be, but how, in the hands of a master, they can transmute into the highest art."
  — Boston Globe

“A redemptive, painfully funny story.”
—USA Today

“Compelling, and beautifully written. . . . Following Karr’s rise from unpublished, drunk poet to sober, Godly literary darling is the funniest damn thing – even her forays into the institution (“the mental Marriott.” In Karr’s parlance) are a riot, and the humor never seems forced.”
— Johann Hari, Slate

“The brouhaha that flared last week when Publishers Weekly announced its list of Top Ten Books of the Year, a list that garnered probably unwanted but inevitable attention for not including any books by a female writer, shifted this week from egregious oversight to blatant inaccuracy with the publication of Mary Karr’s searing and transcendent new memoir, Lit, which belongs securely on any respectable list of top ten books of the year… With this third book Karr has managed to raise the bar higher still on the genre of memoir.”
— Steve Ross, Huffington Post

“What distinguishes Karr’s book from most others . . . is her mordant humor and exceptional writing. Throughout, her descriptions are startling and poetic. . . This is a truly harrowing story, but so poetically written that unlike many memoirs, the material seems riveting rather than repugnant. And not once does the author paint herself as the heroine of her own life. (There isn’t a single false note in Lit.)  Her hard-won contentment is inspiring, and above all, miraculous.”
  — Christian Science Monitor

“[Karr] continues to delight with her signature dark humor and pitch-perfect metaphors… Karr’s prose moves at a quick and seductive clip, delivering large doses of wit and painful insights. . .  There are plenty of memoirs about being drunk, but this one has Karr’s voice – both sure-footed and breezy – behind it. . . Even when Karr is writing about church, Lit has flashes of brilliance to keep you under its intoxicating spell.”
  — Time Out New York

“[Karr] pulls it off because, despite the narcissism and drama, she’s a very likable character. If you’ve read Karr before, you know she’s a terrific storyteller – and a poet. Her language is both precise and vivid, as though she were writing in color. If you like her other books or recovery memoirs in general, you’ll probably enjoy this one.”
— Ellen Silva, senior editor, NPR’s All Things Considered

“As one of contemporary America’s most beloved purveyors of the genre, The Liars’ Club and Cherry author Mary Karr has never lacked for material. But she’s always delivered on the craft side, too, with her poet’s gift for show-and-tell. . . Karr’s too smart and accomplished a writer to not acknowledge her genre’s limitations. But while it’s fashionable for memoirists to ‘fess up that memoir is a fuzzy thing, Karr sincerely and passionately believes in the truth. . . If what we expect from Mary Karr is to deliver transcendence for $25.99, she delivers.”
— Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Karr tells the story with the same down-to-earth writing – some of it funny – that she brought to her first two memoirs. . . Her willingness to show herself in this light and the humility with which she writes about recovery and faith are testaments to the honesty of both her writing and her life.”
— Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Riveting. . .As unsparing and unsentimental as her first two memoirs and, like the others, by turns hilarious and gut-wrenching. She again brings to the task her acerbic wit and poet’s eye for lyrical detail. . . Karr’s entire body of work attests to this simple truth: that the past, until you reckon with it, will remain in hot pursuit. In other words, what you don’t bring into the light will destroy you. Lit brings this process full circle. That pleasingly monosyllabic title encapsulates this writer’s entire journey thus far – one that is about drinking and the illuminating revelations of sobriety, about the redemptive power of literature and how the act of writing can save a soul.”
— Bookpage

“Only an extraordinary writer like poet Mary Karr could come up with a third act . . . without collapsing under the weight of cliché.”
— Austin American-Statesman

“Mary Karr sparked a memoir revival with The Liars’ Club – now she’s back with Lit to describe how she turned those early troubles into literary gold.”
—Body + Soul

“Written in almost flawless image-filled prose and moving seamlessly from present to past and back again… her ability to tell a good story and her flair for written expression, Karr has found another way to leave a mark and to make peace with herself, her back story and those around her.”
— Dallas Morning News

“In short, in Lit Karr continues to deliver the goods. How exactly does she deliver those goods? Foremost, with her magnificent writing; she can make an almost-silent car ride or the most awkward AA meeting come to life in brimming color. She is never dull, pedantic, preaching or whining (as some memoirists, unfortunately, certainly are). Neither is she coy or, worse, impressionist in a ‘poetess’ kind of way. She is a realist, with absurdist tendencies reined in by her dedication to the truth, which is most often scathingly self-indicting… She illuminates, and she is entertaining as she does so.”
— Oregonian

“Karr’s life, in fact, is no darker than ours; she’s just much better at describing the hue, which is why Lit stands apart from the dreary dollops of cream typical among American book sequels. It is as powerful as Liars’ Club, as restless as Cherry and as exquisitely written as any of Karr’s award-winning collections of poetry.”
— St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Hard to put down… Utterly compelling, featuring Karr’s cleverness and wit…. Written in almost flawless image-filled prose and moving seamlessly from present to past and back again.”
—Michelle Jones, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Karr recalls her experience of these relatively ordinary events with a poet’s economy, an adult’s rueful wisdom, and a native Texan’s salty humor.”
— Wendy Smith, AARP

“Karr is a writer you don’t forget. Never is this page-turning torrent self-pitying or sentimental.”
—Beth Taylor, Providence Journal

  “This is a book about finding faith, but like the monastic Thomas Merton, Karr describes her rebirth in simple, honest language: ‘In the end, no white light shines out from the wounds of Christ to bathe me in His glory. Faith is a choice like any other.’… [Karr] has written a book that is artful, honest and convincing.”
— Virginian Pilot

“[Karr] writes with a singular combination of poetic grace and Texan verve, which allows her to present the experiences as fresh, but she also brings a potent, self-condemning honesty and a palpable sense of responsibility and regret to the narrative. . . Will ring as true in American-lit classrooms as in church support groups – an absolute gem that secures Karr’s place as one of the best memoirists of her generation.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Lit contains more than a whiff of the standard recovery narrative as Karr gropes her way toward her new faith. The saving grace, so to speak, is that she, better than anyone, can reinvigorate a tired tale… The yarn spinning skill she inherited from her father and the love of words bequeathed by her mom… remain in full display.”
—Ellen Emry Heltzel, Seattle Times

“Karr builds on her ability to spin a yard and her gift with words to creat this story of her struggle with the bottle. Lit could serve as a 12-step program for writers as well as anyone who wants to know what the struggle is like.”
—Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times (Best Books Citation)

“[Karr’s] poetic sensibility infuses every sentence of her story with an alliterative and symbolic energy, conjuring echoes of poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, and occasionally, Sylvia Plath. . . [Her] wry wit and deft prose do not render her slow conversion to Catholicism in a sentimental or proselytizing manner.”
— Publishers Weekly (entered already)

“Her tale is riveting, her style clear-eyed and frank. That Karr survived the emotional and physical journey she regales her readers with to become the evenhanded, self-disciplined writer she is today is arguably nothing short of a miracle, and readers of her previous two books won’t be disappointed.”
— Library Journal

“Lit by Mary Karr is a harrowing and riveting memoir of Karr’s life from late adolescence to adulthood as she tries to escape her past and recover from alcoholism. Karr takes us into the mind of an alcoholic in a way that is at once horrific and beautiful for the language she uses to describe the most horrific events is heartbreakingly beautiful… I think Lit will appeal to anyone who’s struggled to get where they are today or who enjoys a story of triumph of very great adversity.”
— Blogcritics.com
   
Praise for The Liars’ Club:
“This book is so good I thought about sending it out for a back-up opinion … it’s like finding Beethoven in Hoboken. To have a poet’s precision of language and a poet’s insight into people applied to one of the roughest, toughest, ugliest places in America is an astonishing event.”
— Molly Ivins, The Nation
“The essential American story. A beauty.”
— Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World

“Overflows with sparkling wit and humor… Truth beats powerfully at the heart of this dazzling memoir.”
— San Francisco Chronicle

“Elegiac and searching… her toughness of spirit, her poetry, her language, her very voice are the agents of rebirth on this difficult, hard-earned journey.”
— Sheila Ballantyne, New York Times Book Review

“A dazzling, devastating memoir… Karr’s voice never falters or rings false.”
— Vogue

“Karr lovingly retells [her parents’] best lies and drunken extravagances with an ear for bar-stool phraseology and a winking eye for image. The revelations continue to the final page, with a misleading carelessness as seductive as any world-class liar’s.”
— The New Yorker

“Funny, lively, and un-put-downable.”
— USA Today

“Bold, blunt, and cinematic… nothing short of superb.”
— Margot Mifflin, Entertainment Weekly

“An astonishing memoir of a ferociously loving and dysfunctional family… Karr uses the rich cadence of the region and poetic images to shape her wrenching story.”
— People

“Captivating, hilarious, and heartfelt.”
— Cyra McFadden, Los Angeles Times
 
Praise for Cherry:
“Karr proves herself as fluent in evoking the common ground of adolescence as she did in limning her anomalous girlhood… As she did in The Liars’ Club, Ms. Karr combines a poet’s lyricism and a Texan’s down-home vernacular with her natural storytelling gift.”
— Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

“A fully achieved, lyrically rendered memoir of a bright young girl’s coming of age in America in the seventies.”
— Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books

“Stunning… If The Liars’ Club succeeded partly because of its riveting particularity, Cherry succeeds because of its universality. The first book is about one harrowing childhood, the second about every adolescence. She can turn even the most mundane events into gorgeous prose.”
— Sara Mosle, New York Times Book Review

“Funny, profane, eloquent… no one tells stories like Karr.”
— USA Today

“Bawdy and wise… Mary Karr gives memoir back its good name.”
— San Francisco Chronicle

“The Liars’ Club left no doubt that Mary Karr could flat out write… the one question everyone had upon finishing her story was, could she do it again? Cherry lays that question to rest once and for all… It never lacks for those trademark Karr details, but it’s about all of us.”
— Malcolm Jones, Newsweek

“Here, intact, is the smart, sassy, wickedly observant voice first met in The Liars’ Club, a voice that knows how to tell a story in a crackling vernacular that feels exactly true to its setting.”
— Wendy Law-Yone, Washington Post

“Cherry delivers. Karr still has her delicious knack for making you guffaw through horrible events… its humor, warmth, and crackling language should keep Karr’s fans hungering for another round.”
— People

“It’s the powerful spiked punch of Karr’s writing that amazes… Cherry is about the dizzy funk of female teen sexuality, and Karr captures the innocence and dirt of it, the hunger and the thrill, with exquisite pitch. Karr’s connection to her younger sexual self is profound without mercy or nostalgia… Karr identifies the vulnerable, frightening gap between most girls’ night thoughts and those in the day… Right now, in this remembrance of blooming, Karr continues to set the literary standard for making the personal universal.”
— Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

“Step aside, J. D. Salinger, and take your alter ego Holden Caulfield with you. Mary Karr has staked out your turf, the upended land of adolescence. And she is just smart, angry, sensitive and self-mocking enough to defend it with everything she’s got.”
— Chicago Sun Times
 
Praise for Sinners Welcome:
“So much trickery has been got up to in relgion’s name that it’s natural to get nervous when a writer starts talking about salvation, but Karr never tries to substitute faith for sound poetic practices. If anything, by adding prayer, she just makes the poems that much stronger.”
— David Kirby, New York Times

“Sinners Welcome mixes her beloved stories from the wrong side of the tracks with new notes of care and forgiveness and pure, often angry, hymns to God… It’s a daring mix. Before she had her fists up; now she strips herself bare, a far braver act.”
— Laurel Maury, Los Angeles Times
“Searing, not sentimental.”
— Sam Hodges, Dallas Morning News

“Skepticism is mitigated by Karr’s humor, her mildly ironic stance and her capacity for wry self-examination. Theology takes on a kind of earthy insight… As Karr knows, her endeavor is ages old. It may be that all lyric poetry aspires to prayer. What gives Sinners Welcome its sharp edge is the poet’s eloquently passionate struggle at the junction of doubt and devotion.”
  — Judith Kitchen, Washington Post

“These poems… demonstrate poetry as religion’s kin. While not for the unquestioning devout, this book should stand beside works by writers like Thomas Merton or William Everson (a.k.a. Brother Antonitus) in both poetry and spiritual collections.”
— Rochelle Ratner, Library Journal
 
Praise for Viper Rum:
“Like Philip Larkin and Seamus Heaney, Karr intends poetry of the plain style and the truth of the unmistakably situated self, but is taught also by desire.”
— Allen Grossman

“You could say that Karr is a poet who refuses to flinch, even if the landscape of memory and experience resembles a particularly gruesome Bosch canvas, and who, for the most part, refuses to be consoled.”
— The Chicago Review

“One cannot help but cheer.”
— Harvard Review

“Karr stares hard in the face of hard fact… These poems rip up the Hallmark card and replace it with the difficult, demanding claims of love in an imperfect world… ‘Against Decoration,’ her courageous and provocative essay, is important… No poet writing today should proceed without at least noting Karr’s legitimate misgivings and taking them into account.”
— Georgia Review

“Searing, not sentimental.”
— Sam Hodges, Dallas Morning News