cover image Sinners Welcome

Sinners Welcome

Mary Karr, . . HarperCollins, $22.95 (93pp) ISBN 978-0-06-077654-1

The author of the memoirs The Liar's Club and Cherry began as a poet; this first collection of verse since 1995's Viper Rum alternates between a familiar, unsparing autobiographical vein and a new commitment to Christian belief. Karr, a recovering alcoholic and a temperamental skeptic, entered the Catholic church in 1996, and poems about God, Christ and Christian rituals may draw most readers' attention: "Disgraceland" describes "my first communion at 40," and tries to blend Karr's characteristic acerbity with her interest in religious compassion: "You are loved, someone said. Take that and eat it." Some of the strongest of Karr's clean, direct free-verse efforts have less to do with religion than with her friends, children, parents, vexing early life. When she writes of "the winter Mother's ashes came in a Ziploc bag," fans of her prose will relate. (Mar.)