Book Reviews of The Liars' Club : A Memoir

The Liars' Club : A Memoir
The Liars' Club A Memoir
Author: Mary Karr
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ISBN-13: 9780143035749
ISBN-10: 0143035746
Publication Date: 5/31/2005
Pages: 352
Rating:
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 78

3.5 stars, based on 78 ratings
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

74 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

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Helpful Score: 7
I am always amazed when reading a memoir such as Mary Karr's The Liars' Club. I had to remind myself, several times, that this was not a work of fiction as she recounted a litany of abuse and neglect that astounded. Karr is a strong writer, and though the subject matter could have dragged one down, she told her story with wit and wisdom and actually had me laughing at times! Highly recommended!!
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Helpful Score: 6
Gripping memoir of a girl growing up in the south during the 60's & 70's. It is at times really touching and at other very funny. If you grew up in the south, the people and places described will remind you of ones you knew. They did for me. The descriptions and the language are so perfect. I really enjoyed this one and plan on ordering the follow up.
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Helpful Score: 5
I liked it, but did not love it. I have read other similar memoirs that I liked better. That being said, the book kept my interest. It was a dark story, but had a good message about a family's closeness enduring thorough troubled times.
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Helpful Score: 3
I liked this book, although I wouldn't rank it as one of the best memoirs I have read lately. It was disturbing on some levels, but not so much so that I couldn't get through it. It was also comforting in an odd way. The members of the Karr family are obviously very close, and that is always a good thing in my book. I can't say that I can relate to having my father beat a man to a bloody pulp for disrespecting me or my mother.
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Helpful Score: 3
Mary's family was complicated by parental drinking, mental illness, a dying grandmother, and a long ago secret that festered into guilt.
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Helpful Score: 2
This, and Angela's Ashes, began my love affair with memoirs. This is a beautifully written book. Karr tells the story of her often horrific childhood from a place of forgiveness and with affection. If you grew up in Texas in the 60s/70s, this book will also resonate with you.
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Helpful Score: 2
I enjoyed this book. The writing was very good if a bit dis-jointed. Sometimes the author jumped around too much, but I loved her choice of words. This is a story of a truly dis-functional family. I am sure that anyone who grew up in that part of Texas during the same years has similar stories to tell. What makes you keep reading this book, is the feeling that deep down inside the family members really love each other, they just don't know how to express it.
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Helpful Score: 2
This was an extremely well written memoir but just a little too dark for me. But I could see how it was a major bestseller. A childhood filled with dysfunctional alcoholic parents just isn't my cup of tea, no matter how terrific the writing.
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Helpful Score: 2
First off, my book is not posted so I am not trying to get you to order it.
I was caught up in this story. Anyone who is an adult child of an alcoholic will see their own absurdities in these pages. What I enjoyed most was the author never feels sorry for herself. There is compassion and I suspect at times she kept the less attractive matters private, however, that does not diminish the story in anyway.
Her stories are riveting, she admires her father's stories hence the title, "The Liar's Club" a group of buddies, he was a part throughout his life. Mary Marlene got his genes for story telling ability.
Almost as good as "Change Me Into Zeus' Daughter" or "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight".
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Helpful Score: 1
It's amazing that such a sad childhood can be made so compelling by such a sharp and funny writer. I really liked this book!
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Helpful Score: 1
Still one of the best memoirs, perhaps the best of a woman growing up in Texas.
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Helpful Score: 1
This family is majorly disfunctional and this memoir takes you along for the ride. Great story and worth a read.
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Helpful Score: 1
Beautifully written memoir of a childhood far from idyllic, but marked with the sweat-stained honesty of a blue-collar Texas town.
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Helpful Score: 1
Wickedly funny account of an apocalyptic childhood. You'll be laughing all through the book.
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Helpful Score: 1
Amazon.com
In this funny, razor-edged memoir, Mary Karr, a prize-winning poet and critic, looks back at her upbringing in a swampy East Texas refinery town with a volatile, defiantly loving family. She recalls her painter mother, seven times married, whose outlaw spirit could tip into psychosis; a fist-swinging father who spun tales with his cronies--dubbed the Liars' Club; and a neighborhood rape when she was eight. An inheritance was squandered, endless bottles emptied, and guns leveled at the deserving and undeserving. With a raw authenticity stripped of self-pity and a poet's eye for the lyrical detail, Karr shows us a "terrific family of liars and drunks ... redeemed by a slow unearthing of truth."

From Publishers Weekly
Poet Karr's NBCC nominated memoir of her East Texas childhood is a blackly comic tale of a family prone to alcoholism, violence and insanity.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A friend gave me this book, saying she had liked it but wasn't crazy about confessional memoirs.

The Liar's Club may fit that description, but don't be put off, because it's absolutely fantastic. Mary Karr's writing routinely verges on prose-poetry and is, despite its dark subject matter, funny enough to make you laugh out loud. Then, once you're laughing, she turns around and hits you with something so brutal that you're caught up short.

I did find myself wondering, as I'm sure others have, whether some embroidery may have been involved in the author's crystal-clear recollections of events long past. She appears to have kept copious journals, but still, you wonder how anyone could have gotten so much detail down with such precision, especially as a child.

Then again, maybe she's a hyper-sensitive person with a photographic memory. Ultimately I didn't care if parts of it were embellished a bit. She's such a good writer that if this depiction of events captures the truth of her childhood, more power to her. My main reaction was a weirdly worshipful desire to locate Ms. Karr and make her tell me more stories, the ones that didn't make it into this book. (Actually, I'd be surprised if this has not happened to her.)

This book pulls you in. It's funny, poignant, shocking, memorable. I give it five richly deserved stars.
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Helpful Score: 1
A very entertaining rendition of the trials and tribulations of growing up in a dysfunctional family. Her sense of humor is priceless.
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Helpful Score: 1
hated to finish this.
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Helpful Score: 1
Mary Karr takes us from her early childhood in her dirty South Texas hometown on the border of Louisiana where distillation of oil is the main industry in which her beloved daddy works to her adulthood. She allows us a view into her life with an alcoholic mother, domineering sister, and a daddy whom she worships. Her mama is constantly dragging the family down with her life dependency of alcohol, but her daddy is her bright spot in her life taking her duck hunting and to the American Legion to hear the big whoppers spieled by his buddies in the Liars Club. She has to deal with sexual abuse, alcoholics, broken promises, bullies at school, and other tribulations, but all these problems are entwined with humor making the book one worth reading.
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Helpful Score: 1
An excellent memoir detailing life growing up in the 1960s in a Southeast Texas oil-refinery town with a hard-drinking father and a quirky mother.
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Helpful Score: 1
It was hard to believe this was a true story based on the children's experience.
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Helpful Score: 1
For some reason I've been reading more and more memoirs recently.(What is it, I wonder, about looking into the often shocking details of another person's life that is so intriguing?) This particular book follows a familiar trajectory -- beginning with a perfectly ghastly account of something horrendous that happened in the author's childhood and taking us on from there through what certainly appears to be a rather unusual (to put it mildly) childhood and adolescence. Along the way we encounter a series of harrowing episodes involving a neurotic mother whose seven previous marriages never seemed to work out; a tough dad whose talent for spinning tall tales has won him the admiration of his beer drinking pals, and a completely loony grandma with a penchant for real cruelty. Mental illness, alcoholism, rape, guns, a squandered family inheritance, and lots of fistfights feature prominently in this book. What amazes me about families like this one is that while it's tempting to apply the "dysfunctional" label to them, it's pretty obvious that from their perspective it's all pretty normal because there's something that seems to transcend all the pain and havoc they put one another through. Despite what it may look like, everyone in Mary Karr's family was staunchly and heartbreakingly loyal to one another. Not just loyal. They loved one another - although to actually come out and say so was pretty much out of the question - unless they were drunk. At least that's what she would have us believe. Nevertheless, by the end of the book I kept wondering if everything I'd been reading actually happened the way she described it. After all, the title of her book is The Liar's Club!
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Helpful Score: 1
Very well written, some sad stories, some happy. She wrote the stories the way she remembered them, and then told how her sister remembered the same event.
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Helpful Score: 1
great book, - fascinating read and very well written.
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Helpful Score: 1
I absolutely loved this book. It's no surprise it was on the NY Times Bestseller list for such a long time. Mary Karr relates her memoir in a unsentimental, straightforward way that it calls to mind the plain-speaking, frank nature of East Texas people. A beautifully written book - it's rich descriptions were melodic, visual and swept me away into her family drama. I loved my time there.
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Helpful Score: 1
This is an excellent book.

The author tells vivid stories of her childhood. This book made me cry in parts and made me laugh out loud in others. Though she uses her adult perspective to retell the stories, the voice is her as a child. It is uncomplicated and unencumbered.

If you liked Angela's Ashes, you'll like this book.
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this is a poignant,funny and sad memoir in the genre of the Glass Castle which i couldn't put down...Certainly can't relate to the craziness of the family dynamic and indeed it is quit a good read...
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I can totally see why this book has won so many awards and such acclaim for the author Mary Karr. Her memoir describes an East Texas childhood for herself, Mary Marleen, and her older sister Lecia (irritatingly pronounced "Lisa") that is filled with insanity, alcohol, misery, hilarity, and brilliance. Their father (Daddy) is part-American Indian, a military veteran, a hard worker at the local refinery, and a hard drinker. Their mother (Mother) is complicated, beautiful, frustrated, haunted, extravagant, unstable and alcoholic.

Mary Marleen is sexually assaulted twice before the age of 10, habitually driven around by drunk people (including herself), and at risk of inheriting genetic mental illness and yet, this memoir careens around disasters and very unexpectedly delivers an actual happy ending!

I didn't understand how Mary Marleen got taken to school to show off her reading skills at age 3 and then be described as "3 feet tall and barely literate" four or five years later, but that's hardly germane. This ending is highly satisfying, no loose ends to speak of. It isn't explained exactly why Mother so goes to pieces when her own mother dies, but nevertheless it's an epic episode as riveting the second and third time it's brought up as it is on page one. It is masterful how Karr reveals more action and background with each mention of the ordeal. I love this book, and each character in this family made me laugh out loud at some point.
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Well written. Enjoyed this book.
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Excellent book! You won't believe the horrible things that happen to Mary Karr and her family but their story is told with such love, humor and truth that you feel a sense of hope about the human race even despite the things that happen. Highly recommnded. I couldn't put it down and it is a story that will stay with me forever.
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This is an incredible story that is written incredibly well. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time. Read this book!
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This book was surprisingly great! I highly recommend it. You easily lose yourself in the story
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Fantastic writer in every way. Highly recommend this book.
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I loved this quirky tale of growing up with crazy parents. The writing is flat-out spectacular, the story compelling and I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a side of crazy with the characters they read about in a book. I know I do. I also judge books by their page turning qualities and this one was read via a flashlight under the covers. I just couldn't put it down nor go to sleep finding out what that wacky mother would do next.
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Good book. Fairly quick read, but with substance.
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I did enjoy this shocking memoir. It certainly had its riveting moments, its mystery. All in all, it was so good because its actions seemed more in the realms of fiction than real life, in which case, if untrue, the story would certainly lose something. The most distracting thing for me was in the similarities in our last names, which often made me pause. Most of all, I was shocked that her parents ended up back together in the end... that part was surprisingly nice.
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I tried, but the author's credibility kept stretching and stretching until it finally fell apart when I got to the page where she describes her dying, frail, cancer-ridden grandmother, just home from her hospital stay for a leg amputation, who torments the children by sneaking up on them in her stealthily silent wheelchair--which grandma keeps that way by flipping it over to oil it. Oh, and cancer-ridden grandma also quaffs a case--yes, 24 cans--of beer a day. Really? Enough already. It would be fine if this were just a book of humor, but it's billed as a "moving memoir," an "unsparing portrait of her struggle through a fractured childhood."
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I disliked this book. I read it after hearing so much about it. It is too dark and depressing, and I honestly wish I had not read it. I am sure there are readers who will not be affected by it. If that is one of an author's goals -- to get way down inside you and make you feel something -- then mission accomplished. I just did not like the way it made me feel.
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Great stories about growing up in a strange family from a childs perspective!
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I wouldn't call this memoir comic, more tragi-comic; but the work apocalyptic certainly fits!

---------When it was published in 1995, Mary Karr's The Liars' Club took the world by storm and raised the art of the memoir to an entirely new level, as well as bringing about a dramatic revival of the form. Karr's comic childhood in an east Texas oil town brings us characters as darkly hilarious as any of J. D. Salinger'sâ"a hard-drinking daddy, a sister who can talk down the sheriff at twelve, and an oft-married mother whose accumulated secrets threaten to destroy them all. This unsentimental and profoundly moving account of an apocalyptic childhood is as "funny, lively, and un-put-downable" (USA Today) today as it ever was.-------
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This is an interesting memoir about growing up in Texas with an absent and self-centered mother. The author relates the trials and tribulations of her and her sister's struggle for normalcy admidst a rocky home life.
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Loved this book! What a life!
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I loved the authors telling of this audio. The story was funny in parts, sad in others but it told of her life.
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If you enjoy tales of disfunctional family life, you'll love this book. If peeking into life on the wrong side of the tracks is not your idea of a good time, pass this by.
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Gripping, interesting, and sad, but motivational.
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Wonderful book. Extremely well written.
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A fascinating account of a most dysfunctional childhood. You'll marvel at the survivor finesse of the author. The sequel, Cherry, continues the memoir through the author's teenage years.
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Incredible memoir of a turbulent childhood, fascinating and compelling, hilarious and sad, a true masterpiece. I read this after reading "Lit," so I went out of order, but it made no difference in terms of reader enjoyment. Made me appreciate my relatively normal upbringing, but left me longing to know some of the real-life characters Mary Karr describes in the book. Karr redefines "family" in this memoir.
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"A triumphant achievement in the art of memoir and in the art of living....Karr fills ter turbulent pages with a prose as pungent and zesty as a Gulf Coast gumbo." -- Newsday
Poet & Pushcart award winning author.
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NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST.

SELECTED AS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 1995 BY PEOPLE, TIME, THE NEW YORKER AND ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
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Excellently narrated story. My new favorite contemporary author.
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A classic. If you have not read this one, you should.
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A stirring memoir, dazzling and dark at the same time, with a wit from an author who knows how to tell her story well. Powerful in its description of a childhood gone crazy.
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Wonderful memoir by the author about her child. Very rough at times at others will have you laughing. Makes you admire her determination. GREAT BOOK
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I read this one awhile ago. A funny, touching memoir. It was on the NY Times bestseller list for forever. You won't be sorry.
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Well written memoir of her childhood. I really enjoyed it!
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I liked that a lot of the memoir was from the point of view of a child 8-10 years old.Good book
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A funny and touching memoir of a crazy childhood
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"In a gritty, unforgettable voice, the author describes her east Texas girlhood and her struggles through a fractured childhood."
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In this funny, razor-edged memoir, Mary Karr, a prize-winning poet and critic, looks back at her upbringing in a swampy East Texas refinery town with a volatile, defiantly loving family. She recalls her painter mother, seven times married, whose outlaw spirit could tip into psychosis; a fist-swinging father who spun tales with his cronies--dubbed the Liars' Club; and a neighborhood rape when she was eight. An inheritance was squandered, endless bottles emptied, and guns leveled at the deserving and undeserving. With a raw authenticity stripped of self-pity and a poet's eye for the lyrical detail, Karr shows us a "terrific family of liars and drunks ... redeemed by a slow unearthing of truth."
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WOW- what a great author--I loved this one and the followup Cherry
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Great book!
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I was hoping it would be as good as Jeanette Walls' The Glass Castle, but it wasn't. Karr did a terrific job of remembering her childhood, and she has more details about her life in the first chapter than I could remember from my entire childhood. I'm impressed that she recalled (and researched) so much.

The book is called "The Liars' Club" because that's what the group of friends that her father knew called themselves, so I was expecting some revelation about her father or his friends. In the end, I don't think Karr understood her parents -- which is understandable, given their craziness. But if she couldn't understand what makes them tick, I wish she had written more about what their craziness meant to her in her understanding of herself. I came away thinking that this book was an interesting series of events, but not much in the way of analysis. It didn't satisfy me.
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abridged
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It was ok
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Good memoir of a tough gal!
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I really enjoyed this book!
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When I started reading this book I thought it was purely fiction. Then I discovered while reading that it is actually a "memoir". It is very true to life, a wonderful read, sometimes sorrowful, often funny and upbeat, set in an E.Texas in the '60's and 80's. The survival of spirit over circumstance.
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I love Mary Karr! The Liars' Club is funny, sad, honest, believable and unbelievable, all at the same time.


I no longer have my copy, to my great sorrow.

Follow this great read up with the sequel, Cherry.
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A must read!
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Mary Karr describes her Texas childhood.
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The memoirs of a complicated childhood. Authobiographic.
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ISBN 10 is actually a paperback.
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"A triumphant achievement in the art of memoir and in the art of living. An essential American story."
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NY Times bestseller, winner of PEN/Martha Albrand Award
Natl Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
Texas Institute of Letters Prize for best nonfiction