I read her first memoir many months ago, but somehow skipped over the second one. I typically enjoy memoirs, and I knew she’s also a somewhat brash Texan. And so, having gone to high school in Texas for most of my four years, and then back again for way too many years in college, I feel somewhat like a Texan, and was naturally drawn to Karr’s stories and bold voice. Texas women don’t mess around.
Lit is the story of Karr’s descent into alcoholism and drug use, which became so severe it ripped her family apart, jeopardized her career as a writer, and culminated in what she would call a half-assed attempt at suicide.
Admittedly, that portion of her memoir was difficult for me. By her own admission, she had received everything she wanted in life and couldn’t stop herself from sabotaging it. In the process, she hurt her husband and son, and knew she was doing it as the time. Addiction does that, but it’s frustrating and painful to witness. You can’t help but feel for her family as you’re reading this section.
In an unlikely conversion for a previous nonbeliever, however, it’s faith that ultimately frees her of her destructive childhood, her own addiction demons, and her self-destructive tendencies. Surprisingly, even though I’m an atheist and can’t see how she suddenly chooses to believe, that section was easier for me to understand than her fall. The feeling of letting go, and letting other people help her, allowed her to recover.
Karr is funny, even in the face of tragedy, and is an excellent stylist. I could have used 75-100 pages less of the misery in the middle, perhaps, but it’s a poignant story of a dysfunctional family, an interesting artistic temperament, a descent into addiction, and an unlikely redemption. And if you enjoy memoirs or tales of addiction, Karr’s is a voice not to be missed.