Cherry by Mary Karr

Cherry (Thorndike Press, 2001) picks up where the author’s first memoir, The Liar’s Club, ended with her as a preteen. As one might guess from the not-so-subtle title, this centers around her coming of age in the Texas refinery town of Leechfield.

Karr’s prose is not quite as poetic as in the first installment. She has chosen to tell the story in the second person, which yields a more immediate read to events that, by today’s standards for publication (what outrageous secrets can you expose?), are more innocuous than the latest antics of Britney Spears though they happened in a less public time.

Karr neither portrays herself as victim or survivor but relays her experiences in an almost matter-of-fact tone. Unlike The Liar’s Club, her dysfunctional parents and perfect sister are only afforded cameo appearances though the textures of their personalities could have added dimension to Cherry, as did the appearance of Charlie (her mother) near the end of the book where Charlie’s own past influences the outcome of the younger Karr’s first arrest.

Still, her story is more interesting than my own, though it ends before mine begins. I suspect the telling of Karr’s tale is not yet complete and will happily read the next volume.

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