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CHS/MRes college-wide event: Carol Mavor

22 March 2021 | 5pm – 6pm


Carol Mavor will do a performative reading (with images) from her latest book: Like a Lake: A Story of Uneasy Love and Photography (Fordham UP, 2020).

When photographer Coda Gray befriends a family, with a special interest in a young boy, the motivation behind his special attention is difficult to grasp, ‘like water slipping through our fingers’. Can a man innocently love a boy who is not his own?

Using fiction to reveal the truths about families, communities, art objects, love, and mourning, Like a Lake tells the story of ten-year-old Nico, who lives with his father (an Italian- American architect) and his mother (a Japanese-American sculptor who learned how to draw while interned during World War II). Set in the 1960s, this is a story of aesthetic perfection waiting to be broken.

The lives of Nico, his parents, and Coda embody Northern California’s post-war landscape, giving way to fissures of alternative lifestyles and poetic visions. Author Carol Mavor addresses the sensuality and complexity of a son’s love for his mother and that mother’s own erotic response to it. The relationship between the mother and son is paralleled by what it means for a boy to be a model for a male photographer and to be his muse. Just as water can freeze into snow and ice, melt back into water, and steam, love takes on new forms with shifts of atmosphere. Like a Lake’s haunting images and sensations stay with the reader.

“Like a Lake is a story of where art comes from, the love and grief held in forms — a house, a cup, a photograph, a stone. The experience of reading this novel is lake-like — a beautiful surface opens, and opens, and opens and ripples with grief.”

—Jennifer Doyle

Register in advance for this webinar:


Carol Mavor is writer who takes creative risks in form (literary and experimental) and political risks in content (sexuality, race in America, child-loving and the maternal).

Her Reading Boyishly: Roland Barthes, J. M. Barrie, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Marcel Proust, and D. W. Winnicott was named by Grayson Perry in the Observer as his 2008 “Book of the Year.” 

Mavor’s Blue Mythologies: A Study of the Colour  “coaxes us into having a less complacent attitude…even when it comes to something as apparently innocuous as a color” (Los Angeles Review of Books).

For Maggie Nelson, Mavor's Aurelia: Art and Literature Through the Eyes and Mouth of the Fairy Tale is  “enigmatic and as full of magic as its subjects.”

Max Porter sees Like a Lake as “a novella teasing an essay, or an erotic ghost haunting a fictional memoir, or a negative searching for its lost prints. It is an unnerving question-machine where desire, memory, loss and invention are staged, folded and held, tasted, re-made and undone. It’s a strange, vivid, troubling and beautiful book.”

Listen to Mavor in an interview on the color blue as part of  Phoebe Judge’s intriguing series on love: