Reading My Mother Back: A Memoir in Childhood Animal Stories (Hardcover)
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An innovative memoir connecting ideas of grief, memory, and animals to illustrate the importance of storytelling.
When his mother died, Timothy C. Baker discovered that there was almost no record of her existence, and no stories that were his to tell: the only way to bring her back was through reading. Reading My Mother Back is a genre-bending memoir that explores a life marked by trauma, illness, religion, and abuse through a focus on the books Baker and his mother shared. The book combines accounts of rereading childhood classics with true and apocryphal stories of a quiet life, marked by great sorrow and great joy. The book is about grief and memory and how our childhood reading shapes the way we see the world; it’s about loneliness and the search for belonging; it’s about how ordinary lives are transfigured by storytelling.
Moving from accounts of American evangelical communities to kidney failure, from literary criticism to psychoanalysis, and from guilt to love, Baker shows how literature provides a framework for understanding our experiences, and offers a way of connecting with everything we have lost. The book illustrates how children’s animal stories bring us into a love of the world, and how acts of rereading become a way not of assuaging grief, but of bringing the past and present together. Reading My Mother Back offers a bold and personal view of why the stories we read and share matter so much. And there are bunnies.
About the Author
Timothy C. Baker was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up in southern Vermont. He studied at Vassar College and the University of Edinburgh, and now lives in northeast Scotland, where he teaches Scottish and contemporary literature at the University of Aberdeen. He is the author of four books of literary criticism, including Writing Animals and New Forms of Environmental Writing.