I Truly Lament … Author interview

UPDATED Lament Nurture tour banner

A few words from Matt Freese, whose book I enjoyed a lot. I’ve also enjoyed the banter I’ve shared about the holocaust, his writing, and various other things. Enjoy…

BM: The role of fantasy and fairy tale as a tool for the human mind to process trauma… is the mind trying to pass it off as unreal and distant?

MF: I imagine fantasy is useful for the reader in that it provides a psychological distancing, safer that way, more digestible. If I can have the reader grasp or understand the humorous and not so humorous workings of a golem, his concerns as the protector of Jews, of being a monster and a grim reaper as well, I then can have him mirror back all kinds of reflections (pun intended) about the people who have called upon him for help. In “The Disenchanted Golem” I raise more questions than I could ever answer, but it is in the questioning that I can deepen if not enrich the tale I am writing. When Kafka begins his short story with a young adult who turns into a bug, we are off and running. One of Freud’s great teachings is how the human mind makes use of fantasy for all kinds of conscious and unconscious purposes. I have no significant attachment to golems, but the concept intrigued me for the purposes of my own story telling, especially when one Jew finds that the golem is really useless and all that counts is his own existential self – as it should be.

The golem is a vast projection of a persecuted people, a people that historically have been quite rational in their approach to life and living and yet they, too, collapse into a mystical belief. An unremitting and historical condemnation will do that to you. The story goes of three men of differing religious backgrounds, one of whom is Jewish, who visit a doctor and each is told that his condition is terminal. One man breaks down and says he will go back to the old country to live out his last days. The second man leaves the office and runs purposefully in front of a bus and is killed. The Jew is left. And the Jew, hearing his fate, says “I’d like to see another doctor.” Alas, reason goes so far as some of my stories depict. I was intrigued as a writer in playing the role of the golem. It tested my imagination and my skills. When I write, I leave spoor and I leave it up to the reader to follow this or that trail. I am not that anal that I know exactly what each ”dropping” means. I like to leave the reader and myself guessing. I have found that this approach gives dividends to me as a story teller and perhaps to the reader who doesn’t need everything spelled out.

Consequently the golem is a projection and as we know we place all kinds of stuff on others as we project. On one level, all stories are Rorschach tests.

BM: A little bit of background to your life and inspiration for writing about the Holocaust.

MF: I am a product of lower middle class parents who just managed to get by; I lived in housing projects; I had toys and clean clothing and ate well. I didn’t know we were far from well-to-do. I was a reader as a child, passive, inert, non-assertive, introverted and shy. High school was a horror; I didn’t wake up until the age of 32. I had a few anti-Semitic experiences growing up and I had an acute awareness of being Jewish and very proud of the heritage. Like Freud, I am a godless Jew but fully aware that if you forget you are a Jew, the world will quickly remind you of that. Reading about the Holocaust and Jewish history in general made me ask questions. It was decades later I sat down and began to write what it must have been like in one of the camps. It took decades for the book to write itself and so when I began to write I did not have to stop. It was channeled. Imagination, fantasy, anger, rage and resentment flowed. I counted on my unconscious to guide me, it always does.

BM: Do you research using conventional ways? Past records of events etc., or do you pick an incident and revolve the fiction around it?

MF: I look up words or terms as I go by. I stay away from non-fiction accounts because I have imbibed enough to know what I want to portray in fictional terms. If I want to know what a blochfuher is, that’s readily available. To the point, I research me. I am the source.

BM: Folklore and the Holocaust? Where did that come from?

MF: I happened upon it, it is in my background. I did not read extensively about golems, for that is not my way. I dip my writer’s pen into the inkwell and then go on. After all, there are only three golem stories in the book and their purposes vary. The Disenchanted Golem, an editor has said, really sums up the entire book. You look at that, make of it what you will.

BM: What are you hoping readers will take away from this book?

MF: I haven’t the slightest idea. It is true that after you write a book it is no longer yours and that goes a long way to say that is why there are hundreds of acting interpretations of Hamlet. Sam Goldwyn had a telling line when asked about his most recent movie’s theme: “If you want a message, send for Western Union.” After all, what we take away from a book may be fleeting, passing or a sensibility. I am not teaching. I am exploring. Come excavate with me, if you choose.

BM: What further writing projects are you working on or planning to work on?

MF: I am working on a memoir of two summers, 68 and 69, I spent in Woodstock and the long range impact it has had on me to this day.


Other blogs participating:

Jan. 16 – Mathias @ Mathias B. Freese: A Writer’s Blog

Jan. 20 – Fran @ Just Reviews

Jan. 21 – Bobbie @ Nurture Your BOOKS

Jan. 23 – Mathias @ Mathias B. Freese: A Writer’s Blog

Feb. 3 – Rachel @ Leather Bound Pounds

I’m sure they will all be good reads.

Link to the Author’s website: http://www.mathiasbfreese.com/

See you around! And here’s a gorgeous picture from just now


Upcoming Blog Tour

You might remember a recent review of a Holocaust based book that I put up. Go read it again. Here!

I’m very excited to announce that the author Matt Freese, who by the way, is a very interesting gentleman with many things to talk about, is going to stop by my blog. He will have written about a topic I have posted to him and will also be answering a few questions. The tour runs from January 12th- February 13th, 2015 and I will be participating in January, hurray! I really enjoy finding out from authors what makes them tick and I hope you lot will stop by too.

About the book: “A weirdly wonderful short story collection exploring the Holocaust from diverse perspectives in literary styles ranging from gothic and romantic to phantasmagoric.”

I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust is a varied collection of stories: inmates in death camps; survivors of these camps; disenchanted Golems complaining about their designated rounds; Holocaust deniers and their ravings; collectors of Hitler curiosa (only recently a few linens from Hitler’s bedroom suite went up for sale!); an imagined interview with Eva Braun during her last days in the Berlin bunker; a Nazi camp doctor subtly denying his complicity; and the love story of a Hungarian cantor, among others.

 Title: I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust

Author: Mathias B. Freese
Genre: Literary Fiction
Formats: Paperback & eBook
Published by: Wheatmark
ISNB: 9781627871617
Pub. Date: Sept. 14, 2014
Number  of pages: 252
Content Warning: 18+ for graphic violence
Purchase at: Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com

Other than that, good friends, Happy New Year 2015! Have a great one. And as always, thanks for sticking around in 2014 🙂


My Kaleidoscope … a review

There are many reasons to read books based on the holocaust. Most importantly, it is a piece of very important world history. Nothing before it was as we know it, nothing that came after will ever be the same. How can we as humanity, choose to shut out parts of history that are unpalatable? No one shuts out men landing on the moon… Why then, would you shut out genocide? Is it too unpleasant? Perhaps too far removed? I think we understand ourselves best by understanding where our surrounding came from. Right, now that was good to have that rant. It was a result of me finding out that apparently reviewers turn down books about the holocaust.
Anyway, Shari has merely retold her great grandmother Emma’s story. So as an author, her contribution is minimal, she is just the messenger, which is how a memoir should be. Sort of like Otto Frank’s publishing of Anne’s diary. Now, Emma was not a little girl so obviously this book is from an adult perspective. Which is good in a way that it makes it easier to read because the author is on the same plane or even the same place in life. However, it is even more horrific because the author, the victim, truly understands what’s going on around them. There’s no childhood filter, no blissful ignorance, and no father/mother figure to look up to. Emma Fuchs was a truly inspiring woman, back in the day she was a good businesswoman, and back in the day she also watched as it was taken away from her, along with her husband.
I will not try to process in words what people had to go through in concentration camps and the like. I cannot even imagine the cruelty that man can mete out to man. But it is through these real tests of absolute hardship that heroes like Emma emerge. She survived, and what’s more, gave up everything to forge a better future for her daughter by emigrating. It is a beautifully written book. I would recommend it as a new year read, for it will serve you well in a time of some retrospection and introspection.

I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust … a review

The first book by Mathias B. Freese that I reviewed was last year, it too, like this one, was short stories. So, naturally, I approached this latest book with a certain set of preconceived notions about his style of writing and the overall content. It was however, quite a different experience. Freese is a gifted writer. I say this because I have read quite a few books about the holocaust and this has such a different approach to the whole issue. Each story involves a folk tale, or a fable, from Jewish folklore. And creatures, both good and bad, come alive to take the characters of the book through bizarre journeys.

One of the stories that touched me most was one that involved a ‘golem’ . “In Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated anthropomorphic being, magically created entirely from inanimate matter.” Mothers tell children stories of the golem as a creature that must be summoned when no hope remains and the world is dark. A Jew who is escaping from a camp has the golem in his head and conversations follow. The story is bone-chilling. I have always marvelled at the cruelty of man to man but never have I come across such raw rendering of emotions. Even the story about Hitler’s relationship with Eva seems true.

Needless to say, it is a most depressing read. Do approach with caution. This book affected me almost as much as Anne Frank’s work, and that is the highest praise I can give it.


Be Careful What You Wish For … a review

This is the fourth book of Jeffery Archer’s Clifton Chronicles series, and mind you, as of now, this is as far as the series has been written. The next part is slated for release in 2015, and trust Jefferey Archer to have ended this book at a far more crucial cliffhanging moment than the last.  In this book, the stories of Harry Clifton, Giles, and Emma Barrington continue, even as they are joined by the next generation of Clifton, Sebastian and Jessica. Just as there was a vote in the House of Lords to decide who will inherit the Barrington estate in the previous book, followed by the votes of the general elections, this book too, has some votes being cast. This time, it is for the post of Chairman of the prestigious Barrington Shipping Business. The World wars are a thing of the past and as the company decides to build and launch a fleet of luxury liners, they need someone of nerves of steel to guide them.

The evil Martinez family is plotting revenge against the two families. They try very very hard to bring the company to ruin, with the assistance of Major Fisher and Lady Fenwick, who we have met before as well. But this time, a couple of other good men, in the form of Mr Hardcastle, Mr Buchanan and Mr Bingham. With their help, it is a huge danger that the company must avert. They have failed in the past, which is why the board and the shareholders are not too confident either.

A great part of the action takes place aboard The Night Scotsman, the overnight train from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverley. Since I have been on this train a couple of times, this was very exciting for me! All said and done, this book started off a little slow but picked up pace and did not disappoint at all. Must read!

Best Kept Secret … a review

This is the third book of Jeffery Archer’s Clifton Chronicles series, and mind you, as of now, this is as far as the series has been written. The story of Harry Clifton, Giles, and Emma Barrington continues as there is a vote in the House of Lords to decide who will inherit the Barrington estate. And while this bit is kind of predictable, it is still written up in a very interesting way. ntense courtroom scenes and everything. While the rest of the plot has moved on to include Harry and Emma’s son Sebastian, the older generations still play very important parts, and the novel becomes an interesting medley of stories old and new, of both generations.

Harry is in America promoting his novels and Emma is out solving mysteries that plague her own family. Giles Barrington is defending his seat in the House of Commons and if you can guess, you’ll know soon enough who’s out to thwart his efforts. But thanks to Sebastian Clifton, Giles is successful.

In 1957, Sebastian wins a scholarship to Cambridge, much like his Aunt Grace did all those years ago. But, you and innocent as he is, he is lured into a trap to smuggle a statue into Britain. Going to Cambridge becomes a really distant possibility as he ends up on a ship for South America and to be honest, till the end of the book, he hasn’t actually ended up in Cambridge yet. The ending is quite exciting, what with the Government’s interference to nab the smugglers and Sebastian’s parents pitching in to make it happen.

Does Sebastian go to Cambridge? Is his life in danger? Gosh, have to wait longer to find out!

The Sins of the Father … a review

This is the second book of Jeffery Archer’s Clifton Chronicles trilogy. The story of Harry Clifton, Giles, and Emma Barrington continues as Britain is at war with Germany and Harry, as one, well acquainted with his character from the previous book, would expect, decides to sign up. But fortune is not on his side, as his ship is sunk in the Atlantic by a German U-boat, drowning almost the entire crew. Harry and an American, Bradshaw are subsequently rescued by an American ship. Bradshaw doesn’t survive and Harry, seizing this great opportunity to start afresh, steps into America as Tom Bradshaw.

But on landing in America, he quickly learns the mistake he has made, when he discovers what is awaiting Bradshaw in New York. Now he’s in a fix and the story continues in full steam. Emma, even though informed of Harry’s ‘death’, manages to know enough to believe otherwise and pursues the father of her child across seas, in the midst of war. What a girl!

Giles is now trying to go into politics to become an elected Member of Parliament and when the plot pans out, his friendship with Harry is going to be tested to a great limit. As the previous book, smaller characters like Maisie Clifton, Old Jack, Sir Walter, and Lord Harvey never fail to bring in drama and intensity! Great read, even better than Book 1.

Teaser Tuesday (January 07)

My teaser:

“‘In England, that would be considered rather vulgar.’
‘In America, vulgar is what gets you to the bestseller list.’

From page 30 (Pan Macmillan India 2013) of Best Kept Secret.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Musing Mondays (January 06)

My Musing:

After a long time, I began reading a series, The Clifton Chronicles, written by Jeffery Archer. I happily embarked on the journey, completely convinced that it was a trilogy. Woe of woes, I’m midway through the third book and was told by a friend that it is actually a five part series, and the last two books have not been written yet. Now I’m annoyed with myself because that means that when part 4 is released, I’ll have forgotten a great deal of the story line; after all, it is a year from now.

I try and let the author finish writing all parts before I start reading a series. Else, either I end up not finishing the series at all or I have to re-read the earlier parts. This one’s a good series though 😛

Musing Mondays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

Describe one of your reading habits.
Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

Only Time Will Tell … a review

In between travelling, dealing with tonsilitis, and hours of lying in the pale winter sun; I asked Mum, my go-to person for books, for a fast paced solid read. And, as always, she did not disappoint as she handed me the first book of the Clifton Chronicles trilogy. The story of Harry Clifton, son of Maisie Clifton, takes off in a superb fashion as Harry wins a prestigious scholarship to study in a posh school and his Mum works hard to make ends meet. As with Jeffrey Archer’s some other books, Harry has been told that his father was killed in the First World War.

However, that certainly is not the case… as Harry is soon to find out in a very bizzare (trust me, really bizarre) fashion. But the pace of the novel is good. From his life at the boarding school and friendships that last to crossroads of life where he may either join the army or go to Uni, Harry’s life is fraught with love and deceit, both in equal measure.

The book draws to a close with his final decision (which I won’t tell you) and ends at such an excruciating stage that I was thanking stars that Mum had the entire set of books in hand! And I’m now hooked on to the second book, tracing Harry, his best friend Giles, and his love Emma, through troubled times and across troubled lands. Embark on this series, you won’t be disappointed!