THE SECRET LOVE OF SONS by Nicholas Weinstock


How We Men Feel About Our Mothers, and Why We Never Tell
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 Based on over 200 interviews, almost all with men, this debut book is an embarrassingly superficial account of the mother-son bond. Weinstock, a New Yorkbased journalist, writes as if the mother-son relationship takes place in a kind of emotional cocoon; there is precious little here about fathers, siblings, other relatives, and friends. In fact, there is very little here about mothers' perspectives, which Weinstock promises to provide. Apparently, how sons love their mothers isn't affected by how they are loved by them. His writing on the idyllic ``secret garden'' where mothers supposedly bestow unconditional warmth and support on their infant and young boys is romanticized to the point of being maudlin: ``Beginning with our birth, a mother's love bathed us unconditionally.'' What, one wonders, of mothers who experienced post-partum depression or were distracted by professional obligations, their spouses, other siblings? Weinstock offers a simplistic tripartite developmental schema, in which, first, mothers protectively envelop their sons, then adolescent sons necessarily distance themselves, and finally mature adult sons come to ``mother'' their mothers, supposedly helping them strengthen their psychological resources and broaden their perspectives--a downright patronizing attitude. But rather than really probe the mother-son bond, Weinstock largely celebrates it, so that the relationship seems to know little of conflict or ambivalence. Finally, in his preoccupation with what mothers and sons reveal to each other, Weinstock reflects one of the more significant problems of American popular culture: the idolatry of talk, as if self- revelation and verbal emotional support were sufficient for ``love''; as if sons, particularly those of aging and widowed or divorced mothers, didn't also have some definite responsibilities toward them. Weinstock writes in the authoritative first-person plural, as if he knew a great deal about the multifaceted, impossible-to- schematize dynamics of mothers and sons. His book reveals that he has much more to learn.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1997
ISBN: 1-57322-050-7
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Riverhead
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1997


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