I enjoy reading memoirs because they usually portray a personal tale of finding meaning and purpose in life. They are usually about overcoming life challenges and in doing so, they remind us of the amazing power of human spirit.
While reading memoirs, there are many instances which make me wonder how connected we are as human beings, yet how separated we are in our circumstances. We could be anywhere in the world but at some level we are all trying to achieve peace and harmony in our lives besides other things. Almost all of us at some point in our lives are faced with the task of learning how to channel our inner being to achieve a peaceful and harmonious life in true sense. It may be difficult but unachievable.
Reading Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr brought me to above realisation. Born to alcoholic parents, Karr struggled to emerge out of the shadows of her unhappy childhood and find a place for herself in the world. In Lit, Karr describes her struggles with alcoholism and how she overcame her addiction and become a bestselling memoir writer. While describing her journey, she also talks about a failing marriage which resulted in a divorce. This may sound like a story of many who fight addiction to get sober and take charge of their life, however, what is powerful about Karr’s memoir is the emotional tone with which she writes her life story.
Her life story keeps moving at a steady pace and as a reader you keep experiencing the various emotions. It is easy to empathize with her when she is drawn towards a drink, you can feel her anxiety, her impulses and her inability to control her behaviour. At the same time, you also feel somewhat angry at her preoccupation with herself and her tendency to destroy a near-perfect life. You question – why is she continuing on the path of destruction? And then as things start getting better and she starts taking charge of her life, you suddenly marvel at her inner strength to carve her own path. This empowerment comes about by having faith and trust in her own abilities. This transformation is accompanied by a certain sense of gratitude and acceptance of challenging life situations. Finding a community or a group of people who help and advice her are crucial to her recovery. It is important to rely on loving and caring people.
Her memoir reaffirms to me that when we start connecting with our loving self and expressing that loving self, we feel empowered.
Although I am not a literary critic but I do feel that her memoir is written lucidly. It also gets quite intense at times, I had to take a break even if I didn’t want to. The intimate way in which she describes her life situation makes you wonder how she can so clearly remember what she was feeling when she was so drunk that she almost passes out. I sometimes wonder, if these memories are what one experiences in that instance or later on when reflecting on the situation.
Whatever the truth, it is a memoir worth reading. It is definitely an emotional read.
If you have read it, let me know what you thought about it.