A Time to Remember

As to why she hadn’t told us all this before—about the marriages and the lost children—her exact sentence stays lodged in my head, for it’s one of the more pathetic sentences a sixty-year-old woman can be caught uttering: “I thought you wouldn’t like me anymore.”

–Mary Karr
The Liars’ Club

The price of this secret was the warp and woof of Mary Karr’s gritty childhood which is to say the foundation of her life. In fairness to Mary Karr I need to mention that I listened to her memoir, Lit, first, which one should not do. I did not get the full impact because I did not have the foundation information, not like it is told in The Liars’ Club.

Although there really was a Liar’s Club where her oil refinery employed daddy starred, it appears to be a double-entendre including her artist mother’s colorful past and her own intuitive secret keeping as a child. It’s like To Kill a Mockingbird wasn’t about mockingbirds or even really about Scout’s childhood.

What is shocking about watching To Kill a Mockingbird today is to see an all-white, all-male jury decide a black man’s guilt or fate. The very best and least we can hope for is to be judged by a jury of our peers. Things have improved in the jury selection process. But carried to its logical conclusion, only people who walked in those shoes could truly judge or critique—why I am focusing on memoirs and memoir writers although clearly, no one ever walks exactly in another’s shoes.

And it can be fun, having some of my own memories nudged and understanding I was not alone in some of life’s little embarrassments. (See my post titled “Which Twin has the Toni?”)

Writing a memoir is tough enough. How do you feel about the judgment that followed or will follow?

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