Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Liar's Club

Just finished Mary Karr's, The Liar's Club, which reminded me that just when you think you have written something shocking or revealing, that's the signal to plunge deeper, to write more honestly, to describe more intensely, to see things more clearly.  She describes her childhood in turns of phrase that make me wonder why I ever thought I could be a writer. But then, of course, I am reminded that we all have our own way to describe what has happened to us (or what we conjure in our imaginations) when we take the time to set hand to keys or pen.
She reminds me that I can tell the truth.
One of the most compelling stories is her unambiguous and poignant description of how and when she was raped by a babysitter. It's a powerful narrative, unlike any I've ever read, clear and heart-wrenching, but without whining. Simply a the last detail.
The book seems to have no clear direction at times, leading us from one fateful day to another over the course of two separate years of her childhood. But then, the denouement -- her mother telling her awful truth. Her father dying, finally happy, after suffering incapacity for five years from a stroke and a long life of war and fighting with her mother and alcohol and kindnesses to his daughter.
It's a tragic story, but not without humor and an ability to write it all without self-pity. She's scrappy and funny and a survivor.

No comments: