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Posts tagged "Mary Karr"

You Gotta Tip on the Tightrope (Between the Ideal and the Actual)

You Gotta Tip on the Tightrope (Between the Ideal and the Actual)

For magic to come through in the performance of a tightrope dancer, he or she requires some amount of tension in their rope, and then to step out off the platform.

Tension is defined as: the act of stretching or straining.

I recently had the opportunity to hear Nadia Bolz-Weber speak at the Festival of Faith and Writing, and I was struck by this statement she made:

So many of us are tormented by the distance between our ideal self and our actual self.”

Like a tightrope dancer, we stand at one end of the rope, palms sweating and knees buckled at the hopes…

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On Being Southern, and Human

On Being Southern, and Human

Pat Conroy died a couple of weeks ago. If you aren’t familiar with the name, then you’ve probably heard of at least one of his novels–most likely The Prince of Tides, which was made into a movie in 1991, starring Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand. (Three other books of his were also made movies, but to less fanfare and star wattage.) As far as celebrity deaths go–literary celebrity deaths, at least–this one hit me pretty hard.

I was a fan of Conroy’s from the time I stole my mom’s copy of Beach Music. I was probably…

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The Outsider Gets Radical: Notes on Blaming the Victim and Loving the Alien

The Outsider Gets Radical: Notes on Blaming the Victim and Loving the Alien

Must have been almost fifteen years ago. I was sitting down with the chaplain of a prestigious New England prep school, and although he was being incredibly polite about it, he was sussing me out. You see, I was a stranger on campus, brought there on behalf of the para-church organization for which I worked, at the invitation of the school’s Christian fellowship group. He had every right to know where I was coming from before signing off on my presence/involvement, a responsibility to parents and administrators to ensure that students would be spared any high-pressure proselytizing while away from…

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The Art and Humanity of Memoir: A Review of Mary Karr’s New Book

The Art and Humanity of Memoir: A Review of Mary Karr’s New Book

When I heard Mary Karr was publishing a new book entitled, The Art of Memoir, I was immediately certain that I’d never read it. Surely if I read this book, I’d end up burning my own recently-completed memoir because I’d realize I had done it all wrong. I’d wasted two years of my life as a stay-at-home mom, stealing moments to write while my son was napping (or yelling at me because he didn’t want to nap). You see somehow, I have accidentally become a memoirist. Ick. It took me three days to write that sentence, and seeing it now…

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The Same Deluded Fear Mary Karr Deals With Every Time She Writes

The Same Deluded Fear Mary Karr Deals With Every Time She Writes

So much gold in Mary Karr’s new The Art of Memoir. We have a full review coming soon, but for the time being, I thought I’d post a favorite section from the chapter entitled “Blind Spots and False Selves”. (Almost all the chapter titles are ridiculously enticing, e.g. “Interiority and Inner Enemy–Private Agonies Read Deeper Than External Whammies”, “The Road to Hell Is Paved With Exagerration” and “Sacred Carnality”, the last of  which was just published as a stand-alone essay in The New Yorker). The context here has to do with the conflict all writers/humans face with various internalized imperatives about Who You Should…

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Another Week Ends: St. Paul’s Gift, Princeton’s Fifth Quintile, Biden’s Kierkegaard, Russia’s Soul, Pixar’s SadLab, and the Peak of Television

Another Week Ends: St. Paul’s Gift, Princeton’s Fifth Quintile, Biden’s Kierkegaard, Russia’s Soul, Pixar’s SadLab, and the Peak of Television

1) After the seriously powerful interview Colbert conducted with Vice President Joe Biden, Quartz did a closer look on the guiding philosophy that helped Biden endure the loss of his son Beau. If you’ve not watched the interview, well, go ahead and do that, but Biden describes a note that his wife left him on his mirror, which read, “Faith sees best in the dark,” which comes from Kierkegaard.

Apparently, says Joel Rasmussen of Kierkegaard’s phrase, this is the paradoxical power of Christianity in the human occasion of suffering.

“One sees a kind of goodness coming out of this darkness but, as…

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What Would You Write If You Weren’t Afraid? Mary Karr on the Art of Memoir

What Would You Write If You Weren’t Afraid? Mary Karr on the Art of Memoir

September is always a great month for books and music, and this one is no exception. Among the many releases to be excited about is Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir. In celebration, I had planned to reference her 2009 interview with The Paris Review in a weekender, but then I (re-)read it, and Bam. Simply too many sections jumped out, both one-liners and extended exchanges with Amanda Fortini, the interviewer. They talk about writing, family, memory, addiction, God – what more could you ask for? Since she was working on the new book when their conversation took place (not…

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Best Anti-Commencement Speeches of 2015 (So Far)

Best Anti-Commencement Speeches of 2015 (So Far)

Each year I make a hobby during graduation season (May/June) of paying attention to college commencement speeches. We’ve covered quite a few here on Mbird over the years. It’s a rhetorical phenomenon that sheds light on philosophies of the world that are either long on law or lame optimism about human potential: Look inside yourself, follow your heart, failure is just a stepping stone to future success. Oh, the places you’ll go! These are some of the many cliches that are repeated year after year. They’re also often insufferably boring.

Yet, it seems each season a glimmer of hope breaks through the the cracks from…

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The Voice of God – Mary Karr

Published last month over at Commonweal.

Ninety percent of what’s wrong with you
could be cured with a hot bath,
says God from the bowels of the subway.
but we want magic, to win
the lottery we never bought a ticket for.
(Tenderly, the monks chant, embrace
the suffering.) The voice of God does not pander,
offers no five year plan, no long-term
solution, nary an edict. It is small & fond & local.
Don’t look for your initials in the geese
honking overhead or to see thru the glass even
darkly. It says the most obvious crap—
put down that gun, you need a sandwich.

Face Down – Mary Karr

Face Down – Mary Karr

Woah. A devastating one from the new issue of The New Yorker (click here to hear her read it):

What are you doing on this side of the dark?
You chose that side, and those you left
feel your image across their sleeping lids
as a blinding atomic blast.
Last we knew,
you were suspended midair
like an angel for a pageant off the room
where your wife slept. She had
to cut you down who’d been (I heard)
so long holding you up. We all tried to,
faced with your need, which we somehow
understood and felt for and took
into our veins like smack. And you
must be lured by that old…

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Another Week Ends: Negatively Positive Thinking, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Love and Friendship, Fun Families, Facebook Sociology and Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories

Another Week Ends: Negatively Positive Thinking, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Love and Friendship, Fun Families, Facebook Sociology and Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories

1. Think positive! The New Yorker this week pushes back against the “think I can” trend, famously espoused by Thomas the Train – and even in adult media, too. While it’s certain that confidence often sometimes helps (Seahawks defensiveback Richard Sherman self-imputed the title “best cornerback in the league” and subsequently grew into it), it tends to break down in the long run, ht TB:

According to a great deal of research, positive fantasies may lessen your chances of succeeding. In one experiment, the social psychologists Gabriele Oettingen and Doris Mayer asked eighty-three German students to rate the extent to which they “experienced positive thoughts, images,…

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Upending the Bird (and Sleepless Newborns)

Upending the Bird (and Sleepless Newborns)

Another humdinger from Ginger M:

On New Year’s Eve night, my husband and I hosted two other couples for dinner. In my husband’s family, it has been a New Year’s Eve tradition for all dinner guests to come with a question to ask to the table, preferably one pertaining to the previous year. “What was your most awkward verbal exchange of the past year?” proved to be quite humorous, but the question that ended our night was “What will you most miss about 2013?”. Two guests remarked, with nervous laughter, that they were going to miss the substances that they were…

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