New Ways to Kill Your Mother

New Ways to Kill Your Mother : Writers and Their Families

By (author) Colm Toibin


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In his essay on the Notebooks of Tennessee Williams, Colm Toibin reveals an artist 'alone and deeply fearful and unusually selfish' and one profoundly tormented by his sister's mental illness. Through the relationship between WB Yeats and his father or Thomas Mann and his children or JM Synge and his mother, Toibin examines a world of family relations, richly comic or savage in its implications. In Roddy Doyle's writing on his parents we see an Ireland reinvented. From the dreams and nightmares of John Cheever's journals Toibin makes flesh this darkly comic misanthrope and his relationship to his wife and his children. 'Educating an unintellectual woman,' Cheever remarked, 'is like letting a rattlesnake into the house.' In pieces that range from the importance of aunts (and the death of parents) in the English nineteenth-century novel to the relationship between fathers and sons in the writing of James Baldwin and Barack Obama, Colm Toibin illuminates not only the intimate connections between writers and their families but also articulates, with a rare tenderness and wit, the great joy of reading their work.

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  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 162 x 240 x 32mm | 588g
  • 23 Feb 2012
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London
  • English
  • 0670918164
  • 9780670918164
  • 152,413

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Author Information

Colm Toibin was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of seven novels, including The Master which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize , Brooklyn which won the Costa Novel Award and, most recently, The Testament of Mary, and two volumes of short stories. His non-fiction includes Lady Gregory's Toothbrush and Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almovodar. He is a contributing editor at the London Review of Books and has been visiting writer at Stanford, Princeton, the University of Texas at Austin and Manchester University. He is currently Mellon Professor in the Humanities in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

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Review quote

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 feed our curiosity...a masterly writer, working at the full stretch of his powers Guardian Compelling...remarkable The Times

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