Mary Karr on 20/20

May 2, 2010

Photo: 20/20 via Mary Karr

What was I–a 21-year-old college student–doing this past Friday night?

I wish I could say I was out partying with friends or hanging out with my boyfriend, but no; instead, I was laying in bed at 10 pm and watching 20/20 (really).

I was flipping through the different channels when I got to ABC and saw that 20/20 was doing a special on moms who are secretly alcoholics–I was hooked. Probably for the same reason I love to read memoir, I also love television shows like Intervention, Dateline, Dr. Phil and 20/20.

While I enjoyed the 20/20 special, the reason I’m sharing it here is because one of the woman they interviewed was memoirist Mary Karr. Karr’s latest memoir, “Lit,” focuses on her time as an alcoholic and her recovery from her addiction. For anyone interested in Karr, definitely check out the episode on 20/20’s Web site and an article about Karr’s interview.

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Too Much Memoir

April 23, 2010

A strange thing happened to me this week.

On Wednesday, after a surprise boat ride in Central Park and a homemade dinner for my 21st birthday, my boyfriend took me to Strand to pick out any book I wanted, his treat. As soon as we walked in I went to the back corner of the store and started flipping through the Ks until I found Karr.

The store had Mary Karr’s second and third memoirs, but they were out of her first: “The Liar’s Club.” I made my way back to the front of the store to see what new memoirs they had. I started to pick up a few, quickly reading the back covers, when a weird feeling came over me.

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Photo: Marion Ettlinger

In the past few weeks, I have interviewed authors of memoirs (both self-published and Pulitzer-nominated), a college professor who teaches memoir writing classes, a student at a memoir writing class, a creator of a memoir blog and numerous people who enjoy reading memoir.

I posed similar questions to each of them, but their responses only seemed to match up on one:

“What is your favorite memoir?”

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Photo: Marya Hornbacher

No more babbling, I’m getting right to the good stuff. Here’s part of my interview with author Marya Hornbacher from this past Wednesday.

How do you define memoir?

Literary truth telling. Memoir is not autobiography. It’s about a specific period or thing in someone’s life. My life is not terribly interesting, but a couple of interesting things have happened to me.

Why did you write “Wasted?”

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