I finished "The Liars' Club" and I think it threw me into a legitimate funk. It's rare that I read a book that depresses me so. Usually if a book sounds really depressing, I'm not interested (I dislike over the top drama) and I either never pick up the book or I start but never finish. I know that drama is an imitation of what we find happening in life, but when the imitations feel start to feel like just that, I find myself turning away. And maybe all the difference in the world was that it was labeled “a memoir” which lent it honesty, where in actuality it could be just as full of exaggerations or embellishments as other books labeled “fiction.”
But Liars' Club had something going on.
Mary Marlene Karr's (what a perfect Texas name) childhood was littered with horrific sadness and moments that made me laugh out loud or keep me chuckling to myself until the next day. I think those moments, as well as the delightful terror that was Mary Marlene -- or Pokey -- as her father called her, were what kept me reading and reading and then finishing in tears. Her mother was fatally flawed, her father was loving but limited, her sister was capable (with a capital C), and Mary Marlene seemed to me a tumbleweed tossed between the three members of her family. Perhaps that comes from being the baby; I wouldn’t know. And there is something of that tumultuousness in her telling of her childhood. She meanders through her time with Daddy at the Liars’ Club, listening intently, decorating crackers with cheez whiz. She tiptoes around her frightening grandmother and her mother’s alcoholic lapses. She dawdles about her childhood adventures; telling kids to “kiss her rosy red ass” and shooting a boy with a BB gun from a tree. She lives an absolutely charmed life (a pony of her very own, named “Big Enough”) and simultaneously tragic life (when her babysitter forces her to give him a blowjob).
Needless to say, I’ve found myself feeling out of sorts. And I know it’s because of her book, her story. I’m not sure if I actually loved it, or if I even recommend it. But it’s not very often that a book reaches out and yells such a quiet story at you. So quiet and peaceful, that it leaves you shaking. It will pass -- it always does. But the truth is (forgive my sentimentalities here), a part of me enjoys feeling touched, feeling changed, by what I’ve read. This is why literature moves the world. This is why people should write and people should read -- to instill change, progression, evolution, to never be stagnant -- rather, in a beautiful, constant state of flux.