Colm Tóibín: how I killed my mother | Books | The Guardian
Thus the death of Borges’s father and Naipaul’s father left space clear for the sons to work. They would only have powerful ghosts rather than real presences looking over their shoulders, ghosts whom they could dismiss at will. Like Picasso, whose father was a failed painter, or William James, whose father was a failed essayist, they could compensate for their fathers’ failure, while killing off the fathers’ indolent influence. They could show their mother, or indeed the world, who was the real man in the household.