New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families Hardcover – 23 Feb 2012
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A brilliant book...Toibin is a supple, subtle thinker, alive to hints and undertones, wary of absolute truths. (Robert Hanks New Statesman)
Illuminates, startles and delights...a consistingtly revealing look at how writers' relationships have influenced their work, [which] also sheds fascinating light on Toibin himself (Sunday Telegraph)
These are foxy essays...Toibin talks about writers' families...with great subtlety and sometimes with splendid impudence (The Spectator)
Insightful and compassionate...the breadth and depth of analysis here is impressive...Toibin wears his knowledge very lightly...a fine and engaging collection (Independent on Sunday)
Toibin is a particularly compelling guide to fellow novelists...a wide-ranging and enlightening study of the potentially stifling family and the individual spirit of the writer (Sunday Times)
Penetrating and often very funny...Toibin is a master (Telegraph)
He writes in muscular prose with a keen eye for detail (Economist)
Toibin knows how to select just the right detail...to feed our curiosity...a masterly writer, working at the full stretch of his powers (Guardian)
Compelling...remarkable (The Times)
About the Author
Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy in 1955. He is the author of eight novels including Blackwater Lightship, The Master and The Testament of Mary, all three of which were nominated for the Booker Prize, with The Master also winning the IMPAC Award, and Brooklyn, which won the Costa Novel Award. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. His most recent novel is Nora Webster. He lives in Dublin.
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Top Customer Reviews
In this fascinating book, Colm Tóibín sets out to show how their families influenced the work of various authors. Divided into two sections he first concentrates on Irish authors: W.B. Yeats, J.M. Synge, Samuel Beckett, Brian Moore, Sebastian Barry, Roddy Doyle and Hugo Hamilton. The second part of the book, called `Elsewhere' gives us glimpses of the lives and families of Thomas Mann, Jorge Luis Borges, Hart Crane, Tennessee Williams, John Cheever, James Baldwin and finally Barack Obama, a man we don't think of as an author first and foremost. And there is one other author who returns in chapter after chapter although he isn't given one of his own: Henry James.
Of course Henry James is a favourite subject for Tóibín. His book `The Master' provides a wonderful description of James' life and work. And having recently had the opportunity to hear him talk about the James family and their connection to Bailieborough, a town close to where I live, I fully appreciate the depth of his knowledge and his affection for his subject.
With skill and clarity Tóibín shows us how authors made use of their relationships - or lack thereof - with their families. For example, in the preface he reflects on the absent mother who, in the novels of Jane Austen and Henry James, is a vehicle to allow the main character to develop on their own, without maternal influences.Read more ›
Those vignettes are mini-biographies.
Then on the second part, Toibin dabbles with the Mann family, Borges and a few others. Ultimately it is a book about Toibin because he adds his own opinion on who writes what and how good it is.
I failed to see the point of the book. it is a know-it-all book, but then on the shallow side. Disappointing, all the more because the catchy title does not provide any new way to kill mother!
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