Mary Karr



Which tells you first off why I chose to write The Liars’ Club as a memoir instead of fiction: when fortune hands you such characters, why bother to make stuff up?


The Art of Memoir


When I was 13 years old I wrote a 25 page story about the day my grandmother died. I was in the middle of my summer vacation when my whole life came to a screeching halt.  My mother died when I was a year and a half so losing my grandmother meant I had lost the only mother I had ever truly known. I wanted to join her. Where ever she was I wanted to go there.

I saw the face of God in the moon that night. This giant smiling full moon hovering overhead; a glowing orb in a limitless sky that somehow knew my fate. I asked God to end my life. He said no. I begged. He said it was not my time. He made it clear that I still had a long life to live. Knowing this brought no solace to my despair… but writing did. Twenty five tear soaked pages later I felt well enough to talk about it.

Only two people read that story before it disappeared forever. I didn’t know the word memoir even existed back then let alone what it was. “It was an expression. Like art.” to quote my 18 year old daughter’s friend when I asked him why he wrote a story about a girl he was in love with. I asked him if he had ever thought about writing a memoir. He asked about what. I suggested his parents because of his Facebook post. He invited me out for coffee so I could give him some pointers.

The art of memoir is putting a reader inside your head and taking them through your experience. My daughters friend can tell me about what he’s been through but reading his well examined account of his feelings and seeing the world with his eyes is a whole lot better. That’s why I enjoy reading a good memoir and attempting to write one.