Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Down to a Sunless Sea

Earlier this year I read an interesting book called How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead by Ariel Gore. One of the topics covered was self-publishing so I was excited by a book sent to me to review that took that route. (I could very easily get way off topic now and start preaching about the wonderfulness of the DIY movement but I'll save that for another time.)

The book is a short story collection called Down to a Sunless Sea and was written by Mathias B. Freese. Nine of the fifteen stories in this slim volume have been published in literary journals so this book nicely straddles the two worlds of publishing. As well as being a writer Mathias B. Freese is a psychotherapist and it shows in many of these short stories. Freese is most interested in the inner workings of his characters and deftly handles examinations of their thoughts and reasonings. He is particularly gifted at inhabiting the minds of those who feel on the margins of society, such as the crippled narrator in "I'll Make It. I Think."

The strange and universal land of childhood is also richly explored in this collection, sometimes by narrators who are children, such as Herbie, the wannabe shoe shine boy desperately trying to please his father in the story "Herbie" or by adult narrators remembering incidents from their childhoods, as happens in "Alabaster" the story of a man recalling his meeting with a concentration camp survivor years previously. Freese understands the allure and mystery of childhood. As the narrator of the story "Echo" states: "In hindsight, which is how we live our lives, not how we make sense of them..."

In case you can't read the stickers on the book jacket in my photo, Down to a Sunless Sea was awarded an Editor's Choice Award from Allbook Reviews and was a finalist for the Indie Excellence Book Awards. Wow! Congratulations to Mathias. If he keeps this up he'll be a famous writer before he's dead! To learn more about Mathias B. Freese and his books visit:

First line of Down to a Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freese: "While a young child growing up in Brighton Beach, Adam would go shopping with his mother on Brighten Beach Avenue."

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