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Q&A with COLM TOIBIN -author of New Ways to Kill Your Mother - April non-fiction book of the month

(24 Posts)
TillyBookClub Mon 08-Apr-13 09:02:35

Our April non-fiction choice, NEW WAYS TO KILL YOUR MOTHER, is a collection of erudite essays not only about the fictional parents, cousins and siblings on the page, but also those off it, the real-life characters who shape a writer and their work. Booker-shortlisted author Colm Tóibín explores a range of literature across centuries and asks: how do authors fit (or not) into their own families?

There is Borges and his under-achieving father, Thomas Mann's complicated children, Tennessee Williams obsessing over his neurotic sister Rose. There are also missing mothers in Jane Austen's novels (they get in the way of the heroine's journey, so aunts have to step in instead), and a brilliant piece on the conflicted, alcoholic John Cheever, whose work was intertwined with a difficult marriage and secret homosexual affairs.

Each chapter is immediate, rigorously researched, full of telling detail and often very funny. It reads like a personal tutorial from the most inspiring professor you could imagine. Tóibín is a writer whose powerful intellect is at full pelt; his style is clear, crisp and highly engaging. This book is a gift to anyone yearning to stretch their mind, to analyse literary fiction in the company of a remarkable teacher. And it may make your own family seem like The Waltons by comparison.

You can find details of all Colm's books, his beautifully crafted essays and much more on his excellent website.

There are also 50 free copies for grabs - hotfoot it to the book of the month page for more details.

We are thrilled that Colm will be answering questions about New Ways To Kill Your Mother, his novels and his writing career in an emailed Q&A. So please come and discuss the book here throughout the month and post your questions to Colm by Wednesday 1 May. We'll then post his answers on 8 May. Hope you can join us...

AnonymousBird Mon 08-Apr-13 09:24:03

Sounds so interesting, and I've never read anything like it I suspect, so I've applied for my copy!! Thanks

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 08-Apr-13 12:49:33

This does sound really interesting - and different.

I love the fact mumsnet book club is introducing me to authors and genres I would not usually think of.

CountrySlicker Tue 16-Apr-13 22:00:18

Jon, who is the best ever short story writer, in your opinion?
And loved the book, and your answers. Thank you.

slatorre712 Sat 20-Apr-13 10:18:13

Sounds great! I must order this book.

maillotjaune Sun 21-Apr-13 14:05:54

Haven't been on MN much recently and I can't believe I missed this - I love Colm Toibin's books and will order this one now but won't have read it in time for the deadline to post questions on the book.

Picking up on the theme of this book though, your novels have a lot of strong, interesting women in them (my favourites are still The South and The Blackwater Lightship). Is this a reflection of your family?

Numberlock Sun 21-Apr-13 16:28:23

I loved Brooklyn, just finished it.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 22-Apr-13 10:12:55

We've just been told by Penguin that the 50 copies were sent out on Friday - a bit later than we'd anticipated. All those who have been allocated free copies will be contacted via email today. We're going to extend the Q&A until 1st May so do keep posting your questions for Colm. He's happy to answer questions about any of his books as well as New Ways to Kill your Mother.

LadyMountbatten Mon 22-Apr-13 10:13:35

i never get copies of anything and i read MASSES.

ArtemisKelda Mon 22-Apr-13 13:18:08

[excited] I've been picked, first time smile

LadyMountbatten Mon 22-Apr-13 13:25:52

Me too !

AnonYonimousBird Mon 22-Apr-13 16:19:21

Yey, got my email!!!!

DuchessofMalfi Mon 22-Apr-13 17:57:40

I got one too smile

DuchessofMalfi Tue 23-Apr-13 13:16:44

Has anyone received their copy yet? I don't want to run out of time to read it before the Q&A.

AnonYonimousBird Tue 23-Apr-13 17:49:17

Mine has not arrived. Fingers crossed for tomorrow. It's a race between my nice new book and DD's nice new Wii game - when the postman comes, we both run for the door.

Going to be a push to fit it in. However, as it is a collection, I think I will just have to take a plunge on selected items. One of the Amazon reviews does say you can "dip or delve".....

DuchessofMalfi Tue 23-Apr-13 18:21:15

Keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow's post then smile

AnonYonimousBird Wed 24-Apr-13 10:03:45

Mine is here!

DuchessofMalfi Wed 24-Apr-13 17:30:30

Mine arrived this afternoon, thank you MN smile

CheeseStrawWars Thu 02-May-13 20:09:25

I am still working my way through the book, and enjoying it! Sorry for being late, but here's a question - how did you choose which authors to focus on when putting the book together? Did any get cut before the final edit?

Also, you touch on Austen in the introduction/prologue, but no female authors get a whole chapter to themselves. Why is that?

stopandgo Fri 10-May-13 13:45:07

Thanks MN for my copy, but I'm afraid annoying things like ill children and then catching up on work have meant I haven't had a chance to do any reading for a few weeks angry. I'm really looking forward to getting started soon and will check in back here then.

Ashoething Sat 11-May-13 09:15:02

I got a free copy-thank you. I found the opening chapter about missing mothers very interesting as it is obviously a recurring motif in such a lot of fiction.

But where were the Brontes?<sulks>-missing,absent or dead mothers are the bread and milk of their novels.

As an aside-I named my son after you!.

DuchessofMalfi Sat 11-May-13 09:24:25

I read the first two chapters, but then had to put it to one side whilst I read Wolf Hall for book club. I'm back on it now smile Interesting read so far. Will come back with comments when I've finished.

DuchessofMalfi Sat 18-May-13 18:35:28

Just checking back in to say I finished reading it last night. I have to confess I skimmed a couple of chapters that didn't interest me, but on the whole a good read. Thank you MN for the free copy smile

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 20-May-13 10:32:37

In a bit late but I'm really enjoying this book. I am finding its more interesting when its talking if books and authors ice read but I think I need to go and explore done more authors now.

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