Thursday, April 29, 2010

Meeting Mary Karr

by Brittany Geragotelis

photo credit: Mary Karr
Last night I had the distinct pleasure of meeting poet and author, Mary Karr. Mary is author of the uber-famous memoirs, The Liars' Club (1995) and Cherry (2000), books that look back at her tumultuous childhood and then troublesome adolescence. Her most recent book, Lit: A Memoir (2009) follows her journey from atheist and sinner to converted Catholic during her struggle with alcoholism.

photo credit: Penguin
The woman herself is incredibly mesmerizing. She's SO not your typical mom...she's got an admirable wit about herself and has perfected the timing of her prose in a way that would rival any good comedian. She's actually quite striking in person and her strength of character and will for survival comes through in everything she says...even when she's just shooting the shit.

photo credit: Penguin
As someone who's written about recovery (mine is an adult chick-lit novel called Sober in the City about a girl who gets sober in NYC and weathers the dating world and hilarity ensues), I found her to be unapologetically and admirably honest.

If you haven't already done so, pick up a copy of one of Mary's books. And then get to know the author a little better in this interview with her back in 2009. She's got a ton of good tips on writing in there, including this little nugget:

photo credit: Harper Perennial
"I think most writers have a failure of character, a failure to accept what’s being assigned to you to write. And that often what we’re most talented at we resist, because we think it’s silly, or small, or not good enough. I teach with George Saunders, a brilliant fiction writer, and he’s so funny. He went to Syracuse when Ray Carver and Toby Wolff were there, and he kept trying to write these gritty, minimalist, realistic stories, and then he’d have some bizarre thing in the middle of it, and Ray and Toby would kill themselves, and tell him, “Just do more of this! Just do this all the time!” And he’d be like, “I want to be a man!”

We often have a way that we think we’re going to correct ourselves in the work that leads us to deny the talent we’re assigned or the subjects we’re assigned or the style we’re assigned. That’s certainly been true for me and I often see it with young writers." —Mary Karr