Mary Karr on The Art of Memoir

Mary Karr


As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun concocting a real, honest-to-God bucket list.

When I was younger, I had a different kind of list: a checklist. I ran around like I was on some crazed Easter egg hunt, cramming in as many experiences as possible, all for the pleasure of checking those suckers off the list. It was about acquisition and accomplishment, not meaning. (Welcome to the manic phase of manic depression: All peak experiences, all the time.)

I guess I got to the point when I started thinking, “Damn, if I don’t get my ass in gear, I’m never going to get around to the stuff that really matters.” The items on my more mature bucket list aren’t many or particularly outrageous. Visit the White Cliffs of Dover. Have a cat for longer than eight years. (Oh, the vicissitudes of adopting adult fur babies.) Make it to my and The One’s 50th anniversary (only 28 more years!). Find the exact spot along the Seine where he and I first said we loved each other. Win an Academy Award. Okay, that last one’s a bit la-di-da, but a boy’s got to dream. Read more »

Cara Nicoletti: Books and Food

The Splendid Table: Cara Nicoletti


Cara NicolettiRecently, I had the pleasure of sitting across the table talking about two of my favorite subjects—books and food—with the vivacious Cara Nicoletti. Cara is the prodigious blogger at Yummy Books, a site devoted to the intersection of food and fiction, where she shares recipes inspired by her favorite books.

Last month, Cara published Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books, in which she catalogs the books she has fallen in love with since childhood and the recipes inspired by them. There’s Charlotte’s Web and pea and bacon soup, The Catcher in the Rye and malted milk ice cream, In Cold Blood and cherry pie (the pie Mrs. Clutter was making before her gruesome demise), and my favorite, The Silence of the Lambs and crostini with fava bean and chicken liver mousses. Listen in as we swap book ideas and recipes. Read more »

My Problem With Balls

Baseball Glove

I have a problem with balls. I can’t catch them, I can’t hold on to them, and I certainly can’t throw them. But apparently, balls don’t have a problem with me. They seem drawn to me. I could be walking by a playing field, a tennis court, even a neighbor’s yard, and balls of all sorts would inevitably seek me out.

This unusual Law of Attraction started the summer when I was 11 years old and played right field in the Swansea Little League. (Or was it left field? I can never get it straight. You know, that spot beyond first base?) I was on the politically indecently named team known as the Indians. I never wanted to be on a baseball team. In fact, I loathed the very idea. But it was my parents’ way of trying to assimilate me with other boys and get me out of the house.

Not long before, I had walked up to my father while he was reading the newspaper on a Sunday afternoon and said, “Daddy, I think I’m a drug addict.”

He slowly lowered his paper and his La-Z-Boy. He looked over my head to my mother. Then he looked at me. “Why do you say that, son?” He was gentle, a hand on my arm.

I explained that we had been given a handout in school that listed the possible signs of preteen and teen drug addiction. One of them was spending excessive time alone, especially in a bedroom behind closed doors. Because of squalls of anxiety that were storming through my body, I had often locked myself in my room alone. Read more »

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