A dysfunctional family is any family with more than one person in it.

— Mary Karr

The most thrilling Mary Karr quotes that are glad to read

Even the best of us are at least part-time bastards.

26

That’s what’s so gorgeous about humanity.

It doesn’t matter how bleak our daily lives are, we still fight for the light. I think that’s our divinity. We lean into love, even in the most hideous circumstances. We manage to hope.

25

Faith is a choice like any other. If you're picking a career or a husband - or deciding whether to have a baby - there are feelings and reasons pro and con out the wazoo. But thinking it through is - at the final hour - horse dookey. You can only try out.

24

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.

24

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.

23

Such a small, pure object a poem could be, made of nothing but air a tiny string of letters, maybe small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. But it could blow everybody's head off.

22

Reading is socially accepted disassociation.

You flip a switch and you’re not there anymore. It’s better than heroin. More effective and cheaper and legal.

20

The words and sentences you take into your body from books are no less sacred and healing than communion. Surely at least one such person lives in your zip code.

19

Every now and then we enter the presence of the numinous and deduce for an instant how we're formed, in what detail the force that infuses every petal might specifically run through us, wishing only to lure us into our full potential.

14

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.

11

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.

10

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

10

About Mary Karr

Quotes 56 sayings
Profession Poet
Birthday January 16, 1955

Most great writers suffer and have no idea how good they are.

Most bad writers are very confident. Be willing to be a child and be the Lilliputian in the world of Gulliver, the bat girl in Yankee Stadium. That’s a more fruitful way to be.

10

How much smaller the large places are once we're grown up, when we have car keys and credit cards.

9

I'm bred for farm work, and for such folk, the only A's you get come from effort. Strife and strain are all the world can offer, and they temper you into something unbreakable because Lord knows they'll try -- without let up -- to break you.

9

Memoir is not an act of history but an act of memory, which is innately corrupt.

4

But I'm not ready to stop listening to the screwed-up inner voice that's been ordering me around for a lifetime. My head thinks it can kill me... and go on living without me.

4

People who didn't live pre-Internet can't grasp how devoid of ideas life in my hometown was. I stopped in the middle of the SAT to memorize a poem, because I thought, This is a great work of art and I'll never see it again.

3

Love is the only passion which includes in its dreams the happiness of someone else.

3

I get so lonely sometimes, I could put a box on my head and mail myself to a stranger.

3

A pool game mixes ritual with geometry.

3

Your heart, Mary Karr, he'd say. His pen touched my sternum, and it felt for all the world like the point of a dull spear as he said, Your heart knows what your head don't. Or won't.

2

Be willing to be a child and be the Lilliputian in the world of Gulliver.

2

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

2

I tell people not to write too soon about their lives.

Writing about yourself too young is loaded with psychological complexities.

0

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.

0

For me, everything's too much and nothing's enough.

0

If you lie to your husband - even about something so banal as how much you drink - each lie is a brick in a wall going up between you, and when he tells you he loves you, it's deflected away.

0

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.

0

I'd spent way more years worrying about how to look like a poet -- buying black clothes, smearing on scarlet lipstick, languidly draping myself over thrift-store furniture -- than I had learning how to assemble words in some discernible order.

0

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.

0

Im always terrified when Im writing.

0

Those are only rumors of suffering. Real suffering has a face and a smell. It lasts in the most intense form no matter what you drape over it. And it knows your name.

0

Mother’s particular devils had remained mysterious to me for decades.

So had her past. Few born liars ever intentionally embark in truth’s direction, even those who believe that such a journey might axiomatically set them free.

0

Sure the world breeds monsters, but kindness grows just as wild.

0

There's a space at the bottom of an exhale, a little hitch between taking in and letting out that's a perfect zero you can go into. There's a rest point between the heart muscle's close and open - an instant of keenest living when you're momentarily dead. You can rest there.

0

We are in the grip of some big machine grinding us along.

The force of it simplifies everything. A weird calm settled over me from inside out. What is about to happen has stood in line to happen. All the roads out of that instant have been closed, one by one.

0

He never gave up on me, I only stopped being matriculated.

0

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

0

I always say that a poet loves the world, and the prose writer needs to create an alternative world.

0

As a memoirist, I strive for veracity.

0

The shreiking fight or the out-of-character insult endures forever, while the daily sweetness dissolves like sugar in water.

0

I kept the fingers of my left hand crossed all the time, while on my right-hand fingers I counted anything at all—steps to the refrigerator, seconds on the clock, words in a sentence—to keep my head occupied. The counting felt like something to hang on to, as if finding the right numbers might somehow crack the code on whatever system ran the slippery universe we were moving through.

0

I find a great deal of comfort and care in my faith and prayer.

I'd sooner do without air than prayer.

0

Age about 30, I stopped looking up my books in bookstores.

Paying attention to the marketplace isn't a healthy thing for me.

0

When you do try to picture the boys who do ask you out, they're absolutely featureless, like old carvings eroded by centuries of rain and wind.

0

If you live in the dark a long time and the sun comes out, you do not cross into it whistling. There's an initial uprush of relief at first, then-for me, anyway- a profound dislocation. My old assumptions about how the world works are buried, yet my new ones aren't yet operational.There's been a death of sorts, but without a few days in hell, no resurrection is possible.

0

It strikes me that whatever advantages there are to being a boy--getting to stay out late and having other people wash your clothes and bring you plates of stuff--get undercut by having to play football.

0

In my godless household, poems were the closest we came to sacred speech -- the only prayers said.

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