Reading Boyishly: Roland Barthes, J. M. Barrie, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Marcel Proust, and D. W. Win (BOK)
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An intricate text filled to the brim with connotations of desire, home, and childhood - nests, food, beds, birds, fairies, bits of string, ribbon, goodnight kisses, appetites sated and denied - "Reading Boyishly" is a story of mothers and sons, loss and longing, writing and photography. In this homage to four boyish men and one boy - J. M. Barrie, Roland Barthes, Marcel Proust, D. W. Winnicott, and the boy-photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue - Carol Mavor embraces what some have anxiously labelled an over-attachment to the mother. Here, the maternal is a cord (unsevered) to the night-light of boyish reading. To "read boyishly" is to covet the mother's body as a home both lost and never lost, to desire her as only a son can, as only a body that longs for her, but will never become Mother, can. Nostalgia (from the Greek nosos = return to native land, and algos = suffering or grief) is at the heart of the labour of boyish reading, which suffers in its love affair with the mother. The writers and the photographer that Mavor lovingly considers are boyish readers par excellence: Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up; Barthes, the "professor of desire" who lived with or near his mother until her death; Proust, the modernist master of nostalgia; Winnicott, therapist to "good enough" mothers; and Lartigue, the child photographer whose images invoke ghostlike memories of a past that is at once comforting and painful. Drawing attention to the interplay between writing and vision, "Reading Boyishly" is stuffed full with more than 200 images. At once delicate and powerful, the book is a meditation on the threads that unite mothers and sons and the ways that certain writers and photographers take up those threads and create art that captures an irretrievable past.