Mary Karr is an American poet, essayist and memoirist from East Texas. She rose to fame in 1995 with the publication of her bestselling memoir The Liars' Club. Oprah just named The Liars' Club one of The Best Memoirs of a Generation, "Because Karr started a truth-telling revolution."
In addition to lending her wisdom to students at Syracuse University as the Jesse Truesdell Peck Professor of English Literature, Mary is also heavily involved in volunteering with organizations to professionally guide women.
She lives in a 1920's pre-war co-op on the Upper East Side of NYC.
I've been a writer since I was five. I always wanted to be a poet and so I became a poet.
In addition to teaching, I write memoirs. I also have a lecture business, am a songwriter, and have written for TV.
But the worst job I ever had was shucking crawfish. I did that to pay my way through grad school.
Easy. My son. He looks like something you'd win at a raffle.
ON STYLE APPROACH FOR HOME:
Well, because of the limited space - everything's pretty modern and streamlined, but the details are often very whimsical or silly in a way.
WHAT THINGS MAKE YOU HAPPY IN YOUR HOME?
The Trompe L'Oeil swan wallpaper in my living room really made this place a home.
My Saarinen tulip table, which I couldn't afford for a long time, makes me happy.
I also love my Jonathan Adler anger jar. It’s spectacular.
Folding Pilate's Mat
ON CURRENT OBSESSIONS:
I went to Capri last summer to give a lecture. I had two weeks in Italy for this writer's fest. We're a bunch of writers whom I really love and admire - friends of mine, like Donna Tartt and Elif Batuman.
The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) Paperback – April 7, 2015
by Donna Tartt
by Elif Batuman
BEST GIFTs YOU'VE RECEIVED?
I just got a pie server and two British Bake Off cookbooks from my son and daughter-in-law for mother's day. Making pies is my new thing.
British Bake Off Cookbook
ANY ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED FROM YOUR MOTHER?
Yes - that everybody's got something they bring to the party.
On Practical Items You can’t live without:
Retina-A and sunblock. I'm 62. I have good skin. I think it’s the RetinalA I started using for acne in my early 30's. While everybody else was tanning, I was slathering on sunblock.
any life-changing movies?
There's a great movie called Into Great Silence about this monastery. It's all about living in the natural world in silence.
Have you ever done the silent retreat?
Oh yeah, many times. 28.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE NOT WRITING?
I'm very involved with Dress for Success. I am also very involved with a program through my church - helping women earn their GEDs, get a job, and get off welfare. We provided them great professional clothes and had a makeup artist come and do their makeup. Then we took them all out to dinner in Manhattan and to a play. It was just so fun.
SOME OF MY OTHER FAVORITE THINGS:
Wooden Ear Sculpture
This ear always reminds me to listen to God. I just bought it at a junk store. I mean it's not expensive or anything, it's just a carved wooden ear, but it reminds me I should listen.
An empty frame can represent a picture of the person I'm in the midst of becoming.
This was a gift from my students.
The "Fuck All Y'all" Ruler
I think it's a good thing. It's also a kind of prayer.