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Although Karr, a prize-winning poet (The Devil's Tour) survived a nightmarish childhood with a violent father and an alcoholic mother who married six times, she bears neither parent any animosity in this candid and humorous memoir. Karr and her older sister grew up in an east Texas oil town where they learned to cope with their mother's psychotic episodes, the ostracism by neighbors and their father's frequent absences. Karr's happiest times were the afternoons she spent at the ``Liars' Club,'' where her father and a group of men drank and traded boastful stories. Raped by a teenager when she was eight and sexually abused by a male babysitter, she developed a fighting spirit and impressed schoolmates with her toughness. Karr vividly details her parents' divorce and eventual remarriage, as well as her father's deterioration after a stroke. It is evident that she views her parents with affection and an unusual understanding of their weaknesses. First serial to Esquire. (June)