In New Ways to Kill your mother, (this title is a metaphor for the family – and is non-fiction). Toibin
opens up a new perspective on well know authors. He looks at the relationship with authors and their families, for example W.B. Yeats and his father, Jane Austen and her aunts, John Cheever with his children, James Baldwin and Obama, men without fathers. What he does is skilfully dip into private life’s of authors and marries their relationships to their fictional and (sometimes non-fictional) portrayal of family life. The insights are comic and tragic, they are also amazingly vivid. John Cheever’s chapter is called, ‘New Ways to Make Your Family’s Life a Misery’. Cheever is depicted as living a family war Zone that strangely loved and accepted him. He was supported by his family recognised as a gift to the writing community but treated them very badly. Baldwin and Obama stories began when their father’s died; they set out alone without their father’s permission. The church and religion play an intense part of their ives.

Toibin prods and pokes at authors and gets a way with it, he is a fine critic, he has a vast understanding of fiction, and he uses the authors own writing to exemplify their private lives. He brings a human quality to the work which is extremely engaging.This is a great title to get lost in and clear your thinking mind. It is cathartic and for me, a great beach read, you will appear ‘boringly normal’, after dipping in.