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Mary Karr's Quotes

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Born: 1955-01-16
Profession: Poet
Nation: American
Biography of Mary Karr

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Success has affected my self-definition in that I have more money. Writers pooh-pooh that idea, but it's a huge deal.

Tags: Idea, Money, Success

The audiobooks I buy are never first-time reads - only rereadings of books I know well that I find intoxicating.

Tags: Books, Buy, Reads

The emotional stakes a memoirist bets with could not be higher, and it's physically enervating. I nap on a daily basis like a cross-country trucker.

Tags: Daily, Emotional, Higher

The failures of other genres to provide an emotional connection with some of their characters and narratives gives memoir a toehold.

Tags: Characters, Connection, Emotional

The thing I have to do as a writer, and that God permits me to do, is that I have to be willing to fail.

Tags: Fail, God, Writer

There are all kinds of things God wants me to do that I'm very obstreperous about.

Tags: God, Kinds, Wants

There are women succeeding beyond their wildest dreams because of their sobriety.

Tags: Beyond, Dreams, Women

Both my parents were agnostic. My mother was kind of a Buddhist. She had some spiritual tendencies, but they were kind of flaky - New Agey, you know? Which is partly why I'm suspicious of that sort of thing. I'm skeptical of any spiritual practice that doesn't involve other people and doesn't involve some sort of consistent tradition.

Tags: Mother, Parents, Spiritual

For days on end, I avoid the Web, never logging in until about two or three, after I've written all morning. On a good week, I don't go online till after Wednesday, so four or five days might lapse without my checking e-mail.

Tags: End, Good, Morning

I always thought my family was so bizarre, so when people started coming up to me and saying, 'My family was exactly like yours,' I was completely knocked out.

Tags: Family, Saying, Thought

I believe in God, but even if you don't, you can believe in a self, the person who is innately who you are. Once you fully become that person, then everything you do will be blessed.

Tags: Blessed, God, Self

I have a completely addictive personality. Diet Coke is my last - God, I know people counting days off Diet Coke; I'm such a Diet Cokehead. Now I won't let myself buy it.

Tags: Diet, God, Off

I think being tortured as a virtue is a kind of antiquated sense of what it is to be an artist. It comes out of that Symbolist idea, back to Rimbaud and all that disordering of the senses and all of that being some exalted state. When I've been that way, I've always been less exalted than I would have liked.

Tags: Artist, Idea, Sense

I was a philosophy major as an undergraduate, and I'm just an arrogant little thing. It's hard for me to admit that I can't understand something, let alone not be in charge of it.

Tags: Alone, Hard, Philosophy

I've been teaching classes on memoirs since 1986, and I've been reading them all my life, and I think that I would like to write a critical book that might have some of those how-to elements in it.

Tags: Book, Life, Write

If dysfunction means that a family doesn't work, then every family ambles into some arena in which that happens, where relationships get strained or even break down entirely. We fail each other or disappoint each other. That goes for parents, siblings, kids, marriage partners - the whole enchilada.

Tags: Family, Marriage, Work

My idea of art is, you write something that makes people feel so strongly that they get some conviction about who they want to be or what they want to do. It's morally useful not in a political way, but it makes your heart bigger; it's emotionally and spiritually empowering.

Tags: Art, Heart, Political

People who didn't live pre-Internet can't grasp how devoid of ideas life in my hometown was. The only bookstores sold Bibles the size of coffee tables and dashboard Virgin Marys that glowed in the dark.

Tags: Coffee, Dark, Life

Poetry is for me Eucharistic. You take someone else's suffering into your body, their passion comes into your body, and in doing that you commune, you take communion, you make a community with others.

Tags: Passion, Poetry, Someone

The truth is when I went to graduate school I would've said I was among the least talented of the students, I was certainly the least smart, or less educated. But I worked very hard.

Tags: School, Smart, Truth

When I got sober, I thought giving up was saying goodbye to all the fun and all the sparkle, and it turned out to be just the opposite. That's when the sparkle started for me.

Tags: Fun, Giving, Saying

When people suffer, their relationships usually suffer as well. Period. And we all suffer because, as the Buddha says, that's the nature of being human and wanting stuff we don't always get.

Tags: Human, Nature, Stuff

Writing about prayer to a secular audience is tap-dancing on the radio. I want to say, 'Gee whiz, isn't this great,' and have everyone's head cocked like the RCA dog.

Tags: Great, Prayer, Writing

Young writers often mistakenly choose a certain vein or style based on who they want to be, unconsciously trying to blot out who they actually are. You want to escape yourself.

Tags: Trying, Young, Yourself

Childhood was terrifying for me. A kid has no control. You're three feet tall, flat broke, unemployed, and illiterate. Terror snaps you awake. You pay keen attention. People can just pick you up and move you and put you down.

Tags: Attention, Control, Put

Age about 30, I stopped looking up my books in bookstores. Paying attention to the marketplace isn't a healthy thing for me.

Tags: Age, Attention, Looking
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As a memoirist, I strive for veracity.

Tags: Strive, Veracity

Every poem probably has sixty drafts behind it.

Tags: Behind, Poem, Sixty

Having a great dad probably permitted me to pal around with guys in a way that some women don't.

Tags: Dad, Great, Women

I do have a really good memory. I mean, like, I can remember all the phone numbers of everybody on the street I grew up on.

Tags: Good, Mean, Remember

I don't have a copy of my books, and the degree to which I never read them is profound. I never look.

Tags: Books, Profound, Read

I don't think I look like the pope's favorite Catholic - at least not under close scrutiny.

Tags: Catholic, Close, Favorite

I find a great deal of comfort and care in my faith and prayer. I'd sooner do without air than prayer.

Tags: Care, Faith, Great

I get about five memoirs per week in my mailbox, and few of them inspire anything but a desire to pick up the channel changer.

Tags: Desire, Few, Week

I tell people not to write too soon about their lives. Writing about yourself too young is loaded with psychological complexities.

Tags: Writing, Young, Yourself

I think the problem with visual media like TV is that they're reductive.

Tags: Media, Problem, Tv

I think we fall in love and become adults and become citizens in a way by writing stories about ourselves.

Tags: Become, Love, Writing

I was 40 years old before I became an overnight success, and I'd been publishing for 20 years.

Tags: Old, Publishing, Success

I'm always astonished by the confidence my readers put in me.

Tags: Confidence, Put, Readers

I'm always terrified when I'm writing.

Tags: Terrified, Writing

I'm doomed to act like myself, even when it's inconvenient!

Tags: Act, Doomed

I'm not nearly smart enough or imaginative enough to tackle the novel form. Never happen.

Tags: Enough, Happen, Smart

I've never contended that I had a really horrible life.

Tags: Horrible, Life

It's completely through prayer that I came to believe in God. I just sensed a presence south of my neck.

Tags: God, Prayer, South

Most of the people I write about I'm still in touch with, so I would be loath to make up stuff about them.

Tags: Stuff, Touch, Write

Nobody sounds good writing about your divorce, let's face it.

Tags: Divorce, Good, Writing

On a piece of prose, you have to work at least six hours a day. I don't know how you can do that and teach and raise a kid and paint the house.

Tags: House, Kid, Work

Poetry privileges music and is aesthetically more challenging. Prose privileges information and is emotionally more challenging.

Tags: Music, Poetry, Privileges

Prose cannot compete with the economy of poetry, the ability to have a full artistic experience in a short period of time.

Tags: Experience, Poetry, Time
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