The Liar's Club and Poetry Flash
Written by
Victoria Chames
December 2015
Written by
Victoria Chames
December 2015


I gave myself the gift of this book, The Liar's Club by Mary Karr. I first saw her at an event in Berkeley in October. The interviewer was Brooke Warner, and that's where I heard about The Magic of Memoir, which opened the door to SheWrites. I was so impressed with both of them.  I had never heard of either until this Fall. That’s how new I am to serious writing as a career. 

It took 3 weeks to get the book because I refused to buy it from any of the mega-corps like Amazon. My favorite little bookstore which only orders a few copies of anything at a time, kept selling out. I made 3 trips and finally got it, now I'm totally submerged.

Mary Karr is a brilliant writer, and now my favorite one, right up there with Eudora Welty and Dylan Thomas. Every page is an adventure, every paragraph is a surprise, and almost every sentence is either a delight or a shock. She has written this book through the eyes and voice of a child, starting at age 7. (I am up to chapter 5 now.) This is eerily similar to the way my book is written. Mary interprets it all with only the child's mind, as my book does too, in the beginning.

Except hers is better. Her scenes are wild and intensely vivid, and yet the writing is never excessive, just plain words used very well. Her regional colloquialisms made me snort with unexpected laughter again and again. Her descriptions are very alive, using sensory details that put you right there, especially smells. Marvelous phrases abound, and yet nothing is florid or unnecessary. The dialogue so far is sparse, but when it's there, it’s extremely effective and real. It makes the characters leap off the page, right into your face, as if you are right there next to her, seeing it all happening. Maybe it's because I'm from Texas too, and every bit of dialogue, I get it, and it flashes another memory of the people and places. She mentions Port Arthur, Texas, a place I went once and will never go again. It was the most miserable little town I'd ever seen. Some famous people have escaped from there, like Janis Joplin, for example.

Her writing is absolutely brilliant, incredible. She's doing what I want to do, but much better. I realized at once and I'm going to have to rewrite my whole book, (which I would have done anyway) and dare to allow it to be much richer. I knew her book was going to be an epiphany for me, and sure enough, it was/is. 


Last night at Diesel Bookstore in Berkeley there was a reading sponsored by Poetry Flash, and also Maxine Hong Kingston read a bit of one of her books. Never met her before; she was wonderful. She is a beautiful looking person as well as a very brilliant writer. I'm such a fan! I will be rereading some of her works and reading in particular one that was recommended to me by Monica, one of our ER docs, years ago: The Woman Warrior.

Poetry Flash, like so many literary entities made of real live people, is having severe financial difficulties staying alive. These last few years, with all the kids and grandkids grown, my sisters and I in lieu of a bunch of smaller gifts to each other that don't fit anyway, have been donating to some good causes instead. If you ever want to do something like that, please consider Poetry Flash to be a secret-Santa to.  http//  and


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