Novelist and critic Colm Tóibín provides “a fascinating exploration of writers and their families” (Entertainment Weekly) and “an excellent guide through the dark terrain of unconscious desires” (The Evening Standard) in this brilliant collection of essays that explore the relationships of writers to their families and their work.
Colm Tóibín—celebrated both for his award-winning fiction and his provocative book reviews and essays—traces the intriguing, often twisted family ties of writers in the books they leave behind.
Through the relationship between W. B. Yeats and his father, Thomas Mann and his children, Jane Austen and her aunts, and Tennessee Williams and his sister, Tóibín examines a world of relations, richly comic or savage in their implications. Acutely perceptive and imbued with rare tenderness and wit, New Ways to Kill Your Mother is a fascinating look at writers’ most influential bonds and a secret key to understanding and enjoying their work.
Through a series of accessible essays, lectures, and reviews that rove from Jane Austen to Brian Moore many of which appeared in either the London or New York Review of Books T ib n explores the ambivalent relationships that many writers of the past few centuries have had with their families. The topics T ib n (All a Novelist Needs: Essays on Henry James) addresses include the troubled bond between W.B. Yeats and his father, the fate of Thomas Mann's children, and John Cheever's alcoholic parenting and sexual hijinks. The book is divided into two sections: "Ireland," containing chapters about Irish poets, playwrights, and novelists, such as John Synge and Sebastian Barry; and "Elsewhere," which roves from Jorge Luis Borges to Tennessee Williams. With essays that prove more informative than argumentative, along with useful minibiographies of important authors, T ib n excels when discussing craft, such as in the opening essay, which compares structural devices in the novels of Jane Austen and Henry James that for some reason necessitate an absent mother. Though chock-full of biographic detail that will interest ardent readers, T ib n unfortunately resists drawing conclusions from the various case studies. But overall, given their figurative patricidal, matricidal, fratricidal, and infanticidal tendencies, one ought to be thankful not to have a writer in the family.