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Shivering Eyeballs

Jessica Olin: Mary Karr, 1 November 2001

by Mary Karr.
Picador, 276 pp., £14, June 2001, 9780330485753
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... I am not very successful as a little girl,’ Mary Karr wrote in her diary when she was 11. ‘When I grow up, I will probably be a mess.’ This is how Cherry, the second instalment in her account of her early life, begins. The first, The Liars’ Club, was published in 1995. Now it is the summer before she enters sixth grade; she has no friends, her parents are out at work and her older sister is busy being a blonde goddess ...

What did it matter who I was?

Gaby Wood, 19 October 1995

The Blue Suit 
by Richard Rayner.
Picador, 216 pp., £9.99, July 1995, 0 330 33821 8
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The Liar’s Club 
by Mary Karr.
Picador, 317 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 0 330 33597 9
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... using the excuse and genre of the confession to write a memoir, to relive his lies one more time. Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club is subtitled ‘a memoir’. It opens with a quote from R.D. Laing: ‘We have our secrets and our needs to confess. We may remember ... what an accomplishment it was when we, in fear and trembling, could tell our first ...

God wielded the buzzer

Christian Lorentzen: The Sorrows of DFW, 11 October 2012

Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace 
by D.T. Max.
Granta, 352 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 84708 494 1
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... teaching fiction at Emerson College in Boston; Syracuse, where he went to be close to the poet Mary Karr; Bloomington-Normal for his first secure position at Illinois State; and finally Pomona College, in Claremont, California, where he killed himself in 2008 at the age of 46. He emerged as a writer from a university-based avant-garde tradition, but ...

Eels on Cocaine

Emily Witt, 22 April 2021

No One Is Talking about This 
by Patricia Lockwood.
Bloomsbury, 210 pp., £14.99, February, 978 1 5266 2976 0
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... The portal has censured Wallace for his mawkish depictions of trans people, for stalking Mary Karr and for being the patron saint of pedantic male suitors since 1996. But they share a keen ear for the language of American commercial dross (‘LOOSE, HOT SLOTS’, a sign in Ohio reads), and what Lockwood’s narrator finds in the hospital is a ...

Sisyphus at the Selectric

James Wolcott: Undoing Philip Roth, 20 May 2021

Philip Roth: The Biography 
by Blake Bailey.
Cape, 898 pp., £30, April, 978 0 224 09817 5
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Philip Roth: A Counterlife 
by Ira Nadel.
Oxford, 546 pp., £22.99, May, 978 0 19 984610 8
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Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth 
by Benjamin Taylor.
Penguin, 192 pp., £18, May 2020, 978 0 525 50524 2
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... of the book, reflecting the satisfaction of an author who believes he has steered the Queen Mary into port. And why wouldn’t he have felt all pink and pleased? At nine hundred pages, Philip Roth: The Biography delivers the surplus goods, as if subscribing to the notion that anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Each paragraph is as firmly packed as ...

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