Book Cover: The stuff of life

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The Stuff of Life: A Daughter’s Memoir


As a generation of baby boomers faces the aging of their parents, Karen Karbo’s resonant memoir tells the intimate story of one stoic father and wiseacre grown-up daughter navigating the last months of his life.

When Karen Karbo’s father, a charming, taciturn Clint Eastwood type who lives in a triple-wide in the Nevada desert, is diagnosed with lung cancer, his only daughter rises to the challenge of caring for him. Neither of them is exactly cut out for the job. Karen is a Doc Marten-sporting freelance writer who lives in Portland, Oregon, the primary breadwinner for a slightly chaotic blended family of five, who has always steered clear of the “helping professions.” Dick Karbo, a retired industrial designer and card-carrying member of the NRA, is an equally reluctant patient. As Dick’s disease progresses, Karen finds herself sometimes the responsible adult, sometimes a stubborn teenager all over again, by turns grief-stricken, rebellious, and amused by the grim ironies of the situation. In the end what father and daughter discover more than anything is the love and the toughness that makes them alike.

Sensitive and ruefully funny, The Stuff of Life invites you into a family as complicated and real as your own, capturing a moment filled with all the sadness and warmth of adult life.

Praise for The Stuff of Life: A Daughters Memoir

Karbo describes nuanced moments of nearly excruciating tenderness, embarrassmennt, frustration, and love, balanced with passages of often side-splitting humor. A compulsively readable memoir about family and the writing life that will appeal to Anne Lamott fans.


…Karbo’s willingness to portray the tough business of grief and mortality in all its unmanageableness and confusion makes “The Stuff of Life” a book you want to keep reading, and laughing with, to the end.

The Seattle Times

The Stuff of Life describes the process of Dick Karbo's death and Karen Karbo's struggles to deal with it, and the book works beautifully on many levels. A lively, insightful and astonishingly unsentimental read, it's intensely funny in places. Karbo excels at bringing people to life on the page.

The Washington Post
Book Cover: Generation Ex

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Generation Ex: Tales From The Second Wives Club


A smart and hilarious look at husbands, wives, and exes, from the critically acclaimed novelist, and pundit of domesticity.

Karen Karbo turns her signature wit and wisdom to the state of marriage, divorce, and remarriage in this wildly funny and often painfully accurate portrayal of a life rife with exes: your ex, your husband or wifes ex, the ex of the ex, and of course, their children. Generation Ex is written from the point of view of five women who gather periodically to share stories, blow off steam, and have a few laughs about the impossible-and stubbornly persistent-phenomenon that is the ex-relationship. These are the stories of women who have survived dating, a first marriage, and subsequent divorce. They now have everything theyve ever wanted, but wind up with much more than they bargained for. Theyre a bit older, wiser, more secure-and still manage to find themselves in the middle of rather messy situations.

A welcome relief from the how-tos and woebegone accounts of divorce, Generation Ex offers comic relief and wisdom to what has become a fairly common, though still maddening, state of affairs.

Praise for Generation Ex: Tales From The Second Wives Club

Hilarious... Karbo makes ample use of her narrative instinct and canny eye for human foibles.

Publishers Weekly

Comic relief to the pain, anguish, and downright mess of living through the aftermath of divorce…


Imagine Erma Bombeck and Nora Ephron hammered on Jack Daniels, dishing ex-husbands and you've got Karen Karbo's Generation Ex.

Vanity Fair

[A] smart and ruefully funny examination of divorced life...a wise, witty book.

The New York Times Book Review