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“I should explain here that in East Texas parlance the term Nervous applied with equal accuracy to anything from chronic nail-biting to full-blown psychosis,” writes Mary Karr in The Liars’ Club. The book is an astonishingly dispassionate account of Karr’s harrowing girlhood in small-town Texas. Though her family’s past is shot through with violence, alcoholism, and insanity, Karr sidesteps the rhetoric of victimhood, writing of her alcoholic parents with a mature compassion and a novelist’s eye for detail. Karr, a poet, is attuned to the colorful eccentricities of the Texas vernacular (her father describes a woman as having “a butt like two bulldogs in a bag.”) She reads from The Liars’ Club at 7 p.m. at Chapters, 1512 K St. NW. FREE. (202) 347-5495. (Nicole Arthur)