“The sunset we drove into that day was luminous, glowing; we weren’t.” – The Liars’ Club
One of the biggest joys I experience when travelling is going into bookshops and finding works of literature that are not sold where I live. I came across the first instalment of Mary Karr’s memoirs, The Liars’ Club, in a bookshop in Toronto. A literature student is not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I am ashamed to admit that it was the sleeve that first captured my attention. It was bright red with a black and white photograph of a barefooted and windswept girl riding a horse. As I perused its pages I became increasingly immersed in Karr’s Texan background, her madly artistic mother with a secret past and her father of Native American decent.
All of the episodes she relates, whether comic or tragic, are told with narrative subtlety. Hilarious anecdotes are juxtaposed with ones that are unavoidably tragic. A favourite comic scene is when her mother allows her to cycle around the local neighbourhood without a t-shirt on despite having already reached puberty.
Cherry and Lit are sequels to The Liars’ Club and follow Karr’s escape to California, her entry into college and her struggle with alcoholism. The more I read the harder it becomes to find books that are thoroughly riveting. Mary Karr’s memoirs were an exception to that rule and I only put them down with great difficulty. Karr’s candid humour, beautiful turns of phrase, but above all her survival amidst the eternal circus that is life, make her an exceptional author.
I made, and of course, ate a lot of cookies while reading Karr’s memoirs. The recipe I always return to was given me by my Canadian piano teacher when I was a kid. With a little tweaking over the years, this is how I make them:
Chocolate Chip Cookies
120g brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
40g rolled oats
100g dark chocolate chunks
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Incorporate the sugar and butter in a bowl and add the egg. Mix in the spices, salt and baking powder and add the vanilla extract. Mix in the flour, oats and chocolate. Place tbsp sized dollops of dough on a tray lined with baking parchment and place in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the tray and leave to cool on a wire rack.