Mary Karr's childhood reminds me of my own. Which is surprising in a way; she grew up in a small oil town on the coast in Texas, while I grew up in (mostly) a small farming town in Missouri. Her daddy was a union laborer for an oil company, while mine worked in middle management in a factory. She had one sister; I'm right smack in the middle of seven kids. But it's the small town, lower middle class upbringing that brings to mind my own childhood. Playing (and fighting) with the neighborhood kids; exploring the nearby creek or woods or pasture; fighting with your siblings (but also fighting along with your siblings against the other neighborhood kids).
There are definitely some differences - my mom didn't get an inheritance, move us to Colorado, and divorce our dad in order to marry some drunk bartender. We didn't ride horses or get stung by a man-o-war or hide from a drunk, knife-wielding parent (or protect a step-father from a drunk, pistol-wielding parent). We didn't (as far as my parents know) use the kind of "colorful" language Mary and (especially) her sister Lecia used against the other neighborhood kids. But, reading this memoir, I still felt at times like I was reliving my own childhood.
A memoir of abuse, neglect, child endangerment, sexual abuse, alcoholism, mental illness - but somehow the author (and her sister) survived.
Adroitly written, but not for the faint of heart. This was a tough one to get through.
A Southern childhood with all its grittiness exposed: even though Karr's mother is an alcoholic, and her father knows how to punch his way through life, she and her sister survive because of undaunted love and courage that glue this crazy family together. Her writing is funny and every page tells of a miricle of survival.
How did I miss this back in 1995? A wickedly funny account of an apocalyptic childhood in East Texas.
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