My idol, Mary Karr, was in town last night speaking at the Hobby Center to a sold out audience. She is funny, witty and has an amazing grasp on language and especially metaphor. I was thrilled to have her sign my copy of Cherry, her wonderful memoir of her adolescent years and probably the best revelation of female teenage sexuality ever. Nothing is sacred to Mary, few secrets not spread out like lacy underwear for all the world to see. She is Texas through and through even though she is now living in NYC and teaching at Syracuse University and belongs up there with iconic Texas women like Molly Ivins and Ann Richards. In the audience were two of her high school teachers from the little town in which she grew up and she honored them for working hard to keep her in school. I can't wait until her latest book, Lit, arrives and want to collect more of her poetry. She claims that all Texans speak metaphorically. God, I wish that were true. I think my dad came closer to it than my mom who was a stickler for "proper" English. Metaphors are the spice of life and language and when I asked her if she thinks in metaphors, she answered a definite "Yes."
Someone asked her what she thought it was about the rather grim, derelict part of Texas around Pt. Arthur that has spawned such creative folk as herself, Janis Joplin and Robert Rauschenburg. Her answer was that in such impoverished surroundings one was forced to create an inner life, one relied on one's own creativity to get through life. I think she's so right about that. It makes me sad to see my children and grandchildren rely so much on outside stimuli to be entertained. My childhood was filled with imaginary games, homemade theater and dramatizations with imaginary characters and costume, drawing, reading and writing stories. I would like to think that kids are still doing all that and that TV and video games haven't totally taken their place. Guess time will tell.