I read Mary Karr’s memoirs out of order. I started with Lit, then I read The Liar’s Club, and now finally, I have read Cherry. Lit is one of my all-time favorite memoirs. I think that if anyone wants to understand the full-potential of memoir as a genre, they should read Lit. I liked The Liar’s Club better than Cherry, but for only one reason: Cherry is written in second person.
To make it even more difficult, it is only partially written in second person. When I start a book, it always takes me a little bit of time to get used to the style, tense, and point of view. In this book, I couldn’t get used to everything one swoop because it switches to second person halfway through the book. So, I had to get used to Karr’s style and then get used to the POV.
However, Cherry is saved by Karr’s style and focus. Her writing is beautiful, gritty, realistic, and romantic. Her prose is like good poetry. Cherry itself is unique because it delves deeply into the psychology and circumstance of being poor, white, and southern. Previously, I’ve only ever read about that world from an outsider’s perspective. Mary Karr, in her characteristic clear-eyed frankness pulls me right into her teenaged factory town crowd.