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Extended Audio Sample Lit: A Memoir Audiobook, by Mary Karr Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (9,539 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mary Karr Narrator: Mary Karr Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2010 ISBN: 9780061901584
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Lit follows Mary Karr's descent into the inferno of alcoholism and madness—and her astonishing resurrection.

Karr's longing for a solid family seems secure when her marriage to a handsome, Shakespeare-quoting poet produces a son they adore. But she can't outrun her apocalyptic past. She drinks herself into the same numbness that nearly devoured her charismatic but troubled mother, reaching the brink of suicide. A hair-raising stint in "The Mental Marriott" awakens her to the possibility of joy, and leads her to an unlikely faith. Lit is about getting drunk and getting sober; becoming a mother by letting go of a mother; learning to write by learning to live. It is a truly electrifying story of how to grow up—as only Mary Karr can tell it.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Searing…A book that lassos you, hogties your emotions, and won’t let you go. It’s a memoir that traces the author’s descent into alcoholism and her conflicted, piecemeal return from that numb hell—a memoir that 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…Every bit as absorbing as Ms. Karr’s devastating 1995 memoir, The Liars’ Club, which secured her place on the literary map.”

    New York Times

  • “Affecting…Karr’s lurch toward faith is narrated with familiar irreverence and humor, but this tone does not preclude a more heartfelt expression of the value of faith.”

    New Yorker 

  • “If the first two volumes of her memoirs strutted, this one proceeds more modestly: 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

  • “Karr bares her soul in this sharp, unflinching look back at her troubled life. In prickly, self-deprecating prose teetering on the edge of poetry, Karr traces her plunge into alcoholism, depression, the inevitable disintegration that confined her to a mental hospital, and her hard-won recovery. Karr narrates with just the right smart-alecky insouciance, smug at times, wildly out of control at others. Her slight Texas twang, tinged with dark humor and honest appraisal, turns melodramatic moments matter-of-fact. When the drunk Karr rationalizes her drinking, her intelligent reading makes her self-justifications reasonable…Karr’s truthful performance and riveting story will keep listeners glued to their headphones.”

    AudioFile

  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A 2009 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
  • A 2009 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Nonfiction
  • A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • Selected for the November 2009 Indie Next List
  • A 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
  • AudioFile Magazine Earphones Award
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jessica Jackson | 2/16/2014

    " AAAAHHHH! Mary effing Karr, you are a literary genius, and you make me feel more human. This book is incredible, amazing, and every other annoying superlative adjective you can think of. Raw? Check. Heartbreaking? Check. Well-written? Check, check, check. You won't be disappointed. You won't be able to put it down. You won't leave your bed for hours. You're welcome. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenny | 2/15/2014

    " If I could I'd give this book 3.5 stars... was a great memoir for getting a kind of insider's understanding of addiction, and was a page turner. However, I often found her writing a bit egotistical and found myself wondering if she at times was a little too nice to herself about some of her not so nice moments. I do recommend it though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charissa Albertson | 2/13/2014

    " I loved how Mary used so much detail. The book flowed like a fiction book and wasn't boringly factual like some other memoirs I have read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynne | 2/7/2014

    " Mary can sure turn a phrase. Just wish, for her sake, her life hadn't been so damn awful. Up to now, that is. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Korrina Thomas | 2/4/2014

    " It messed with my head little, but I never bonded with the character. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emilie | 1/24/2014

    " I loved thsi book! I can't recommend it enough. . . the author is a poet, originally a poor girl from Texas, now--or as of the memoir writing--teaching at Syracuse. Tells the story of her life through the lens of struggle with alcohol, finding faith and hanging on. Each chapter is titled & has an opening quote/poem that is so spot on. From the opening prologue messages to her son, and the first chapter describing her teen-age experience in being on the road in CA in the 70's, through college and marriage, taking care of her dying father and aging mother, the dust jacket promise of this being one of the most important books about being a woman in our day & age, rang true for me. I savored and was inspired by this book. She wrote two prior memoirs ~ presumably life as seen through other lenses, that I will be sure to check out! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 sarah | 1/18/2014

    " If you can get past the first 20 pages, it will be worth it! I liked this book more than Liars' Club, just so beautifully written and what a voice! And she's not overly dramatic, she just tells it like it is. That's all I really want in a memoir--authenticity (oh and great writing)! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 12/25/2013

    " I've fallen in love with Mary Karr once again after reading this latest book by her...a great, honest read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shaharlucy0 | 12/22/2013

    " I was a little disappointed. Karr can really write but how much can one read about her alcoholism and recovery? I liked her early memoirs much more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jess | 12/20/2013

    " This was great - engagingly written, honest, reflective, and helpful insights. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nora | 12/14/2013

    " I was into it at first and then misplaced it for 3 weeks. By the time I got the book back, I was disinterested. Not necessarily the book's fault. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joey Cattermole | 12/7/2013

    " good writer. I don't think I'm giving it away to say she's an alcoholic who becomes a Christian. I do not understand her but I do respect her. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dayna Collins | 12/4/2013

    " I love Mary Karr, although I was ready for this one to come to an end; the final fourth of the book lagged. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alice | 8/8/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book even though it is about a tough subject "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christian Hamaker | 5/27/2013

    " I learned a lot about Recovery from this book. Karr's matter of fact tone and honesty about religious experience set this work apart from other memoirs I've read. I'm not enamored of it in a 5-star way, but it certainly was powerful. I've put a book of Karr's poems on hold at the library. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Beth | 5/19/2013

    " Can't wait to read more of her stuff. What an amazingly honest and raw memoir. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barb | 3/16/2013

    " Mary Karr's writing is lovely, and makes what could be a difficult topic inspirational and often funny. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lacy | 12/30/2012

    " This is a great memoir to read if you are a writer. She does a great job chronicling her struggles with succeeding in the world of writing and surviving. Even though it is about her descent and ascent and descent again into alcohol addiction, it is surprisingly not depressing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kate | 12/13/2012

    " Love, love, love Mary Karr. Her writing is absolutely delicious. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alison | 11/23/2012

    " At first I was put off, I feel like I have read a lot of autobiographical books about the road to recovery. Although the narrative some times seemed scattered I really heard her voice and humor and in the end felt like I really knew her. I will put her earlier biography on my to read list. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 8/8/2012

    " Wonderful memoir. Full of humor, amazement, survival and honesty. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maria | 5/3/2012

    " Wonderful honest description of her descent into and ascent out of alcoholism. Clearly not a subject for everyone but Karr's writing is amazing. Her forays into religion are not my cup of tea but they are shared with honesty. How her mind can craft sentences after the life she has lead is beyond me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michele | 4/4/2012

    " I couldn't get into this the first time I picked it up. I'm so glad I tried again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Acolvin | 3/14/2012

    " A great, entertaining story, written with colorfully crafted language and a sense of humor. As much as this memoir is a story about substance abuse, it is more accurately a study about resistance to spiritual truth. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caitlin | 2/16/2012

    " Spectacular. So many levels of learning about the self here, especially when the author's personal recovery begins. I found myself staring to believe in prayer and the power of putting your wish out there. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deb Jacobson | 12/7/2011

    " Compelling and tough read but certainly worth the time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Keija | 6/7/2011

    " Love her style--the rough poetry of it. Went on too long, though, and the relentless self-pity even in the face of her great good luck and blessings grew tiresome. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charissa | 5/22/2011

    " I loved how Mary used so much detail. The book flowed like a fiction book and wasn't boringly factual like some other memoirs I have read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 5/20/2011

    " Got love a former drunks excapades. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike | 5/12/2011

    " If there is a better writer out there than Mary Karr, I haven't read her/him. She's a master - a poet and a storyteller. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathi | 5/11/2011

    " Tough and gritty but an interesting story. Now want to go back and read The Liar's Club. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathleen | 5/10/2011

    " I'm a sucker for ppl's stories. And this one is great to read. A whole lot of sad, but very funny too, and then hopeful. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tonya | 5/10/2011

    " I couldn't finish this. It wasn't very good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amber | 4/28/2011

    " The first half was well-written and fairly interesting, but it was not until the second half (when she really starts trying to change and reflect on her alcoholism) that I was moved and inspired. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 4/26/2011

    " This was a wonderful memoir showing the origins and downward spiral of addiction and addictive personalities. I loved reading about Mary Karr's emotional and spiritual growth throughout the course of the book. I wish I had read Liar's Club first, but I am definitely ready to read it soon! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maria | 4/25/2011

    " An amazing writer and an amazing story. The language is fresh and moving. This is her story of recovery from alcoholism, which is not a subject that I have particular interest in, but the way she relates it, I think it would be interesting to anyone. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 4/25/2011

    " Wonderful memoir. Full of humor, amazement, survival and honesty. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carolyn | 4/24/2011

    " Gets preachy towards the end
    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristine | 4/13/2011

    " Mary Karr shares more than most people will even admit about themselves and does an amazing job of illustrating how to grow one's ability to be empathetic even while healing one's self. "

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About the Author
Author Mary Karr

Mary Karr is an award-winning poet and the bestselling author of Lit, the sequel to her critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling memoirs The Liars’ Club and Cherry. A born raconteur, she brings to her lectures and talks the same wit, irreverence, joy, and sorrow found in her poetry and prose. A sought-after speaker, she has given distinguished talks at prestigious universities, libraries, and writers’ festivals, including Harvard, Oxford, Princeton, Brown, and Syracuse; the New York Public Library, the Los Angeles Public Library, and the Folger Library; the New Yorker Literary Festival, PEN/Faulkner, and the Festival of Faith and Writing. Karr welcomes conversation with her audience and she is known for her spirited, lively, and engaging Q&A sessions.