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Mother and Child: A Novel
     

Mother and Child: A Novel

by Carole Maso
 

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A mediation on life and death, being and non-being, and the intense mystery and beauty of existence, Maso’s new novel follows a mother and child as they roam through wondrous and increasingly dangerous psychic and physical terrain A great wind comes, an ancient tree splits in half and a bat, or is it an angel, enters the house where the mother and child

Overview


A mediation on life and death, being and non-being, and the intense mystery and beauty of existence, Maso’s new novel follows a mother and child as they roam through wondrous and increasingly dangerous psychic and physical terrain A great wind comes, an ancient tree splits in half and a bat, or is it an angel, enters the house where the mother and child sleep, and in an instant a world of relentless change, of spectacular consequences, of submerged memory, and uncanny intimations is set into motion.

It is as if a veil has lifted, and what was once hidden is now in plain sight in all its splendor and terror as the mother and child are asked to bear enormous transformations and a terrible wisdom almost impossible to fathom. As the outside can no longer be separated from the inside, nor dream from reality, the mother and child continue, encountering along the way all kinds of characters and creatures as they move through a surreal world of grace and dread to the end.

The bond between Mother and Child is untouchable, unrealizable until it is lost, and this meditation pushes the envelope, inching ever closer to touching it, to realizing it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Maso’s first novel since 1998’s Defiance, a mother’s fears for her young daughter are revealed through dreams and surreal events woven haphazardly between reality and illusion. After a great wind, an enormous winged creature appears in the house; mother and child are unsure whether it is kind, malicious, a bat, or an angel, but the mother knows that her move to the idyllic valley of her childhood to shield the child from life’s dangers has failed. “Life and Death before our eyes shall vie for the Mother and Child,” the godlike Vortex Man proclaims. Together and separately, they traverse the magical arrivals and departures of the Grandmother from the North Pole, the grief of September 11, the sleeping left ventricle of the child’s Aunt Inga; “Each beat of the heart is triggered by a surge of calcium ions that cause millions of overlapping filaments in a heart cell to pull against each other and contract.” In exploring the intricate mother-child bond, Maso overly romanticizes suffering and grief, detracting from the lyrical prose and leaving her book feeling unanchored. Still, this plotless but not directionless novel beautifully contemplates the treachery of the world that motherhood exposes, and the child’s ignorance of it. Agent: Georges Borchardt. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
More gorgeously written, dramatically inert fiction from Maso (Defiance, 1998, etc.), this time set in a vaguely apocalyptic landscape. It's the Age of Funnels (tornadoes to you), and the Vortex Man rules. Frequent elliptical references to falling towers and a burning city suggest that the Valley where Maso's mother and child live is a place to which people fled after some catastrophic event that both is and is not the World Trade Center attack. The author's intent is clearly non-naturalistic: The novel opens with a tree splitting in half, emitting a torrent of bats and a stream of light, and over the course of the narrative, parent and child burst into flames, descend into the center of the earth and commune with Egyptian gods. Yet Maso sends mixed messages. Allusions to evangelical Christians, the Catholic Church pedophile scandals and artists from Ingmar Bergman to Damien Hirst situate the book in something like a recognizable universe. So why is San Francisco called the City of Saint Francis, and China is GinGin, but India is India, and the North Pole still has its own name? It's more like a jigsaw puzzle than a novel, though the World Trade Center allusions build toward a passage that attempts to make this event the linchpin of her protagonists' lives as well as the catalyst for a world in which low-level war seems to be perpetual. Instead of creating a consistent alternative universe, Maso simply tosses together a hodgepodge of material designed to evoke both fairy tales and recent history without meaningfully engaging either. Characters have names like the Girl with the Matted Hair and the Grandmother from the North Pole, but they don't have personalities or purpose. Lacking plot or psychology to anchor their attention, readers are likely to drift from one beautiful but baffling passage to another, wondering What It All Means. Only for the most determined aficionados of the avant-garde.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781619021648
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
07/16/2013
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author


Carole Maso is the author of seven books including The Art Lover, Ghost Dance, and Break Every Rule. She is a professor of English at Brown University.

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