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Book Review: Father and Son Tales

By Kit Stevens

According to the forward of this 10 short story collection, Father and Son Tales explore the love and expectation that form and complicate father-son relationships, helping or hindering growth into maturity and the development of genuine masculine strengths.

Ostensibly this book presents as a lavishly illustrated reader, but given Evetts-Secker is a Jungian analyst, along with the heavy introduction and postscript psychological notes, and the final effect is something of a minor thesis.

The ten tales on offer are reproduced from wider collections worldwide. Greek myth is included with the relatively well-known Daedalus and Icarus story, while the Biblical prodigal son gets a makeover. Egypt, Serbia, Scotland, North American Indian, Chile and Germany also get an airing while Polynesian culture is also represented.

As one might expect from the general human condition, father-son fables adopt a similar vein with local customs and values illustrating the relationship. In that respect there’s an air of repetition of the rich father sends son into the world, son fails then prevails (usually) theme.

In the European stories the social standard is invariably gold, in early America corn, and in Polynesia fire; which is interesting in terms of culture.

It is difficult to judge precisely what Evetts-Secker is trying to achieve here. The deep psychological and sociological nuances of fable are certainly way beyond the ken of the younger reader or listener, and for them the stories are essentially fairy tales.

The best advice is to give it a flick through at your local library. Ages 7-8 upwards might give it a whirl on its basic merits, though be prepared for the awkward question the kids might come back and throw at you: “Dad, what’s a Jungian analyst?”.

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