From Our Soundbooth | March 24, 2016

This week on The Missouri Review Soundbooth Podcast, we interview Mary Karr. Our interview was conducted during the Miami Book Fair International in Miami, Florida.


Photo by Deborah Feingold

Mary Karr is the author of three award-winning, bestselling memoirs: The Liars’ Club, Cherry, and Lit. A Guggenheim Fellow in poetry, Karr has won Pushcart Prizes for both verse and essays. Other grants include the Whiting Writer’s Award, PEN’s Martha Albrand Award, and Radcliffe’s Bunting Fellowship. The Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University, she is currently adapting her books for a Showtime series based on her life with Mary-Louise Parker to star.

Here we discuss Karr’s new book The Art of Memoir, the ethics of creative nonfiction, and the response to her work, among other topics. To find out more about Mary Karr, visit her website.

An excerpt from the interview is below:

Karr on writing memoir:

There’s a fuzzy line between memory and imagination… If you don’t set out to lie, you’ll be fine. That’s what I tell people. And if you don’t remember something, just say “I don’t remember this.” I think it’s about showing your inner life. I think writing a good memoir is about showing your psychological development over time. You have to be true to that interior feeling. And that way, readers always know they’re looking at your filter point of what you’re afraid of, who you don’t like, who you look up to. And isn’t that true in the world? You want to err on the side of being generous to people anyway.

Interview conducted by Jennifer McCauley.