cover image Mother and Child

Mother and Child

Carole Maso. Counterpoint, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-58243-818-4

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)