The Moment

Mary Karr on the Art of Memoir

The best-selling author of The Liars’ Club talks about finding her voice as a memoirist and how you can too.

Mary Karr
Mary Karr.

Photo illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker. Photo by Deborah Finegold.

Listen to this episode of The Moment with guest Mary Karr:

Subscribe in iTunes ∙ RSS feed ∙ Download ∙ Play in another tab

This week on The Moment, Brian Koppelman talks to award-winning poet and best-selling author Mary Karr. They discuss Mary’s latest book, The Art of Memoir, and reflect on some of her past work, including The Liars’ Club and “Suicide’s Note: An Annual,” a poem she wrote about David Foster Wallace. Karr talks about being critical of Wallace and the reasons she couldn’t read Infinite Jest until after his death. Also, Brian and Mary recall some of their favorite memoirs, and Mary says that with the right tools and mindset, anyone can tell his or her own story.


Topics discussed on today’s show include:


The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
The Liars’ Club
 by Mary Karr
 by Mary Karr
Lit: A Memoir
 by Mary Karr
The Rock Bottom Remainders
Short Sharp Shocked
 by Michelle Shocked
Texas Campfire Tapes
 by Michelle Shocked
“Michelle Shocked Enrages Fans With Onstage Anti-Gay Rant”
 by Pablo Neruda
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
 by Dave Eggers
 by Michael Herr
 by Frank Conroy
Body and Soul
 by Frank Conroy
Black Boy
 by Richard Wright
Native Son
 by Richard Wright
Up From Slavery
 by Booker T. Washington
Invisible Man
 by Ralph Ellison
by Paul Auster
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 
by Maya Angelou
The Kiss: A Memoir
 by Kathryn Harrison
The Woman Warrior
 by Maxine Hong Kingston
Speak, Memory
 by Vladimir Nabokov
 by Elie Wiesel
Survival in Auschwitz
 by Primo Levi
Man’s Search for Meaning
 by Viktor Frankl
The Painted Bird
 by Jerzy Kosinski
The Moment With Jerome Charyn: 8/25/15
Sizzling Chops and Devilish Spins
 by Jerome Charyn
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
 by Haruki Murakami
Tenth of December
 by George Saunders
Infinite Jest
 by David Foster Wallace
Forever Overhead
 by David Foster Wallace
On Writing
 by Stephen King
The Shining
 by Stephen King
The Stand
 by Stephen King
The Things They Carried
 by Tim O’Brien
This Boy’s Life
 by Tobias Wolff
“Bullet in the Brain,”
a short film
The Night in Question
 by Tobias Wolff
“Suicide’s Note: An Annual”
by Mary Karr


People discussed on today’s show:

Mary Karr
Stephen King
George Saunders
Allen Grossman
Michelle Shocked
Tobias Wolff
Marie Howe
Geoffrey Wolff
Raymond Carver
Quentin Tarantino
Ian McEwan
Marina Abramovic
Karl Ove Knausgaard
Isaac Babel
Gabriel García Márquez
Don DeLillo
Tom Noonan
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Patti Smith
Pam Houston


This episode of The Moment is sponsored by Draft Kings. Start this football season by winning $2 million! This isn’t fantasy as usual. This is Draft Kings. Use the code MOMENT to play free for a shot at $2 million in the Week One Ten Million Dollar Millionaire Maker. Go to!

And by Braintree. If you’re working on a mobile app and searching for a simple payments solution, check out Braintree. With one simple integration, you can offer your customers every way to pay. Period. To learn more, and for your first $50,000 in transactions fee-free, go to

Twitter: @BrianKoppelman