New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families

In his essay on Tennessee Williams, the author reveals an artist profoundly tormented by his sister's mental illness. Through the relationship between W.B. Yeats and his father, he examines a world of family relations, and in Roddy Doyle's writing on his parents illuminates an Ireland reinvented. From John Cheever's journals he makes flesh this darkly comic misanthrope and his intimates. Educating an intellectual 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, the author illuminates the intimate connections between writers and their families, but also articulates the great joy of reading their work