In a moment she was at the doorstep at Off Square Books, wriggling out of her stylish black knapsack, and greeting her readers who wasted no time approaching her. She took a seat, signed a bunch of books for people, and, interrupting the introduction several times to edit some remarks, got out in front of the podium to be closer to the crowd of eighty or so. Some stood cautiously in the back.
Wearing a sharp, haute-looking black outfit with a fitted sleeveless top and slightly poufy skirt, softened by a lace petticoat peeking out impatiently below the hem, she put on her bifocals, the old-school kind with the line showing, and read a short piece from Lit, which has just come out in paperback from Harper Collins (the publisher, incidentally, of To Kill A Mockingbird, whose 50th anniversary we've been celebrating this week). Readers will remember the part in Lit when Mary realizes, at the beauty shop on her wedding day, that her mother's fallen off the wagon. In just a few hours, her new mother in law won't be able to hide the tears that are "not--I'm guessing--of joy."
Taking questions of all sorts for about forty minutes, Mary Karr was as candid--and funny, and engaging--in life as she is in print. It was something like an audience that had a chance to interview its favorite late-night TV show host. She met for another forty-five minutes with a book group, finished signing stock, and made her way to Ajax. Going over the menu there, she kept going, "Oh. Oh. Oh, oh, oh. I want it all," and parted by saying she wanted to move here. Naturally, we wish she would.