New Ways to Kill Your Mother by Colm Toibin
Writers and Their Families

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Colm Tóibín is a masterly novelist who is also a fine critic. "New Ways to Kill Your Mother" is most alive when these two sensibilities merge, and Mr. Tóibín shows the ways in which the imagination preys on personal history.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

In a brilliant, nuanced and wholly original collection of essays, the novelist and critic Colm Tóibín explores the relationships of writers to their families and their work.

From Jane Austen’s aunts to Tennessee Williams’s mentally ill sister, the impact of intimate family dynamics can be seen in many of literature’s greatest works. Tóibín, celebrated both for his award-winning fiction and his provocative book reviews and essays, and currently the Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Columbia, traces and interprets those intriguing, eccentric, often twisted family ties in New Ways to Kill Your Mother. Through the relationship between W. B. Yeats and his father, Thomas Mann and his children, and J. M. Synge and his mother, Tóibín examines a world of relations, richly comic or savage in its implications. In Roddy Doyle’s writing on his parents, Tóibín perceives an Ireland reinvented. From the dreams and nightmares of John Cheever’s journals, Tóibín illuminates this darkly comic misanthrope and his relationship to his wife and his children. “Educating an intellectual woman,” Cheever remarked, “is like letting a rattlesnake into the house.” 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.
 

About Colm Toibin

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Colm Tóibín is the author of seven novels, including The Blackwater Lightship; The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; and The Testament of Mary, as well as two story collections. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.
 
Published June 12, 2012 by Scribner. 354 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for New Ways to Kill Your Mother
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Jun 11 2012

There really aren’t, it turns out, any new ways to kill your mother, at least not artistically. But all the old ways, in Mr. Toibin’s telling, still work rather beautifully.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Adam Mars-Jones on Feb 25 2012

These are mainly substantial pieces, and they need to be, to examine knotty relationships in the necessary detail, to mount satisfying arguments.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Tessa Hadley on Feb 22 2012

A masterly writer, working at the full stretch of his powers, sends back reports from where he's engaged at white heat, writing and reading.

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WSJ online

Excellent
Reviewed by Mira Sethi on Jun 27 2012

Colm Tóibín is a masterly novelist who is also a fine critic. "New Ways to Kill Your Mother" is most alive when these two sensibilities merge, and Mr. Tóibín shows the ways in which the imagination preys on personal history.

Read Full Review of New Ways to Kill Your Mother:... | See more reviews from WSJ online

Reader Rating for New Ways to Kill Your Mother
92%

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