A kooky and witty illustrated tale that’s full of intelligence and educational value.

MOTHER MAY I?

A POST-FLOYDIAN FOLLY

In Boxer’s (In the Floyd Archives, 2001) satirical graphic-novel sequel, a group of animals searches for a new psychoanalyst after Freudian Dr. Floyd abandons them.

Bunnyman, Mr. Wolfman, Rat Ma’am, and Lambskin are all former patients of Dr. Floyd. Sadly, the bird psychoanalyst has flown away and left the four in the woods, their therapy incomplete. Rat Ma’am suggests performing a sacrifice or burning an effigy of Dr. Floyd, which eventually becomes a much tamer “weenie roast.” For more structure, the group may simply need, as Rat Ma’am puts it, “a really watchful psychoanalyst.” Bunnyman, who has an Oedipal complex, nominates Lambskin, his surrogate mother, whose wool he often gingerly strokes. Kids’ games, such as the titular “Mother May I?” become the animals’ new form of therapy. But when that’s not enough, Lambskin produces a little black sheep from her pocket: Melanin Klein. Melanin treats Bunnyman, Mr. Wolfman, and Rat Ma’am as her children—and treats her kids as patients, including kids from her own pocket: Melittle Little, Little Hans, and Squiggle Piggle. Her brand of psychoanalysis is decidedly different than Dr. Floyd’s; for instance, she believes that everyone, even her children, is “strangely attracted” to her. But, with luck, Melanin will still be able to help the neurotic animals. Boxer’s previous book spoofed Sigmund Freud, but this follow-up concentrates primarily on psychoanalysts Melanie Klein and D.W. Winnicott. The delightful story is generally surreal, with objects appearing out of nowhere (such as a toy train) and Bunnyman having apparent hallucinations involving Dr. Floyd. Nevertheless, the comedy is abundant and perhaps best appreciated after perusing the author’s historical notes at the end. For example, Melanin asks the animals to create squiggles out of Squiggle Piggle’s pliable tail, which, Boxer explains, is based on a therapeutic drawing game that Winnicott created for kids. As in her preceding book, Boxer offers clear, simple artwork that suitably resembles children’s drawings, and it includes moments of praiseworthy visual humor, such as Rat Ma’am pointing to her own thought balloon: “Those are my little black thoughts.”

A kooky and witty illustrated tale that’s full of intelligence and educational value.

Pub Date: May 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949093-17-9

Page Count: 188

Publisher: International Psychoanalytic Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

Did you like this book?

more