Adam Phillips is a writer of aphoristic genius. By training and profession he is a child psychotherapist of considerable reputation - but to anyone who has read his books he is, first and foremost, a writer, a man who loves words and the play of words.
While much of his argument in this book, and in his other books, is densely wrought, it repays close attention - not just for the value of the argument itself (which is basically that we would enjoy life a whole lot more if we were not so willing to bury our childhood curiosity in the ordered flowerbeds of adulthood), but also for the flashes of deep insight and ironic observation that pepper his paragraphs. Often his most incisive, troubling, and liberating comments are reserved for the apparently lesser status of parentheses. "No one could be better at living your life than you," he brackets in the middle of a discussion about the promises and perils of psychoanalysis (mind you, his entire oeuvre is an ongoing discussion about the promises and perils of psychoanalysis, among other things). Of course, you think, and then realise that's really not something you tend to tell yourself every day - or, in fact, hardly ever.
Much of Phillips's writing has a similar effect of pointing out something about yourself or your life that should be blindingly obvious, or at least annoyingly familiar, but does, in fact, turn your view of yourself and your life pretty much on its head. And what's more, he does it in such lyrical and beautiful language.
The Beast in the Nursery is essential reading for any parent of young children. It's not easy, and it is often deeply troubling - but then, that's the whole point. You don't have to believe in Freud, you can love Lacan, you can wish you'd slept with Melanie Klein - it doesn't matter. Read Phillips. He is essential.