Howard’s end

A Booker winner recalls life in Sydney
by
July 2022, no. 444
Buy this book

Mother’s Boy: A writer’s beginnings by Howard Jacobson

Jonathan Cape, $39.99 hb, 280 pp

Howard’s end

A Booker winner recalls life in Sydney
by
July 2022, no. 444

A Writer’s Beginnings begins: ‘My mother died today.’ One could be excused for thinking that one was reading not a memoir but a Campus Novel without the ‘p’, an experience that Howard Jacobson will suffer later in this book. Who could read this incipit without hearing the famous beginning: ‘Aujourd’hui maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.’ Jacobson, on the other hand, knows. He continues: ‘It is 3 May 2020. She is ninety-seven years old.’ I cannot recall whether Albert Camus specifies his protagonist’s mother’s age in L’Étranger (1942). A Camus novel is surely a Campus Novel without the ‘p’, the latter a sub-genre that Jacobson will both live out teaching English at a polytechnic in a defunct football stadium and come to write. Indeed, so insistent is his use of the locution ‘we’ll come to that later’ that one could be excused for thinking prolepsis a Finklerish (see below) rhetorical device. Give Howard Jacobson enough trope and he’ll surely hang himself.

Don Anderson reviews 'Mother’s Boy: A writer’s beginnings' by Howard Jacobson

Mother’s Boy: A writer’s beginnings

by Howard Jacobson

Jonathan Cape, $39.99 hb, 280 pp

Buy this book

From the New Issue

You May Also Like

Comment (1)

  • This might have been an engaging review had it gone on to actually consider the Jacobson memoir in question rather than discoursing on the long-past intra-academic hostilities engaged in by Anderson and Jacobson. Fortunately it does mention Jacobson’s first novel, which was a real hoot of satirical ribaldry regarding such arcane rivalries as to have me chortling and choking with laughter. It was written long before Jacobson started to take himself too seriously. Anderson could have navigated from there through Jacobson’s works to get to ‘Mother’s Boy’ and given your readers something of more informative substance.
    Posted by Leslie Rosenblatt
    03 July 2022

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.