Once Was Lost

At this point, recovery memoirs are a dime a dozen, but this work from poet, memoirist, and recovering alcoholic Mary Karr is different. For one thing, she is a poet, so her description of sitting on the back stoop with a baby monitor and a tumbler of Jack Daniels can give you a good case of vertigo. But the big difference is that in her quest for a higher power who could keep her sober, Karr didn’t settle for the generic “spiritual-not-religious” pastiche that has become a recovery movement cliché. Instead, she took an unexpected turn into more-or-less orthodox Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church. Lit begins with a 17-year-old Mary, strung out on LSD, trying to sleep in an abandoned car in a Southern California parking lot. It ends with her grown-up, middle-age self going to confession and working the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola.

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Sojourners Magazine August 2010
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