Genres: Literary Fiction, Holocaust Fiction, Short Stories
“…Freese’s haunting lament might best be explained (at least to me) by something Nathaniel Hawthorn wrote about Herman Melville’s endless search for answers to questions that perplexed him all his adult life. Melville was incessantly obsessed with what one might call the why of it all — life, death, metaphysical mysteries. Similar to Freese, Melville was repeatedly afflicted with a dark and depressive state of mind.” –Duff Brenna, Professor Emeritus, CSU, San Marcos
Praise for I Truly Lament:
I have read many books about the Holocaust as I find the subject very interesting from a psychological standpoint. I have to say though, that Mr. Freese has placed an entirely new twist on the subject. I will admit to being perplexed at first, having expected something a bit different. As the collection unfolded, I was drawn into the raw emotion. I particularly enjoyed the story, “Cantor Matyas Balogh.” Matyas found love so late in life, only to have it ripped from him. Freese does not just tell a tale, he creates a basis for reflection. I believe that he is completely correct when he states that someone can never truly understand the Holocaust. We can write about it, but the lasting impact on the people that survived can never be put into words. I Truly Lament is a remarkable collection that will leave the reader speechless. – Heather Osborne for Readers’ Favorite
At a social distance from me now, as exact and
regulatory as a geometric theorem, I see the Jew as a
thing rather than entity. He is foreign to me.
The Disenchanted Golem
IN MY LATEST INCARNATION I was a golem for a few months in
Poland. Invoked by the mumbo-jumbo Kabalistic rites of a Hasidic
tzaddik, I was raised from nothing. Of course, Jews have no idea where
I come from or how I exist when not on call. They know nothing
of the fabric of my being. They believe, or at least this Hasid did,
that prayer—and demands—bring me forth. Rubbish! My directive
comes from a different source and one that’s not accountable to me.
I cannot explain my existence. I’m in the dark much like the rabbi.
And when I wake to a call and go about my tasks, which are often to
tear out legs and arms of Poles, in this instance, I find it a necessary
evil of which I’m a significant part. I’d rather rest in soil from which
I come, or at least that is the matter that forms my lumpish shape.
Going way back to 1492, Señor Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor
who was of Jewish descent, cursed me for dismembering a fellow
priest whom I’d beaten with a candelabrum until he curled up in a ball
and died. Spry Torquemada fled from my presence and I lumbered
after him, finally grabbing the wily old bastard by his caftan. I can’t
speak, which is problematic, for I’ve seen or experienced so much
about death and dying that I’ve a lot to say. Sometimes I would like
interrogate the victim to see how he responds not only to his imminent
death but to my physical presence: which is more terrifying?
Anyway, I scared the shit out of the Grand Inquisitor but let him
live. I really don’t know why. Before I left his home I peed in his
private chapel, the piss laced with mud and twigs, an earthy aroma
to it, like asparagus, essentially all the parts of my makeup. Basically
I am mud.
I like to do a good job. Different golems act differently. We’re all
of the same construction. Quite simply, as a golem I need no compass
for finding a malicious Gentile. I just know his whereabouts and I
intuitively seek him out—unnerving, if you’re a Gentile. Jews mistakenly
think I act for them; well, yes and no, basically more no than yes.
I’m an independent slayer, like the angel of death. I definitely don’t
act out of religious reasons or because Jews need me at this time or
another. It’s all so complicated as to my origins and purposes.
About the Author:
MATHIAS B. FREESE is a writer, teacher, and psychotherapist. His recent collection of essays, This Mobius Strip of Ifs, was the winner of the National Indie Excellence Award of 2012 in general non-fiction and a 2012 Global Ebook Award finalist. His I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust was one of three finalists chosen in the 2012 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest out of 424 submissions.
Connect With The Author:
Win a print copy of I Truly Lament by Mathias B. Freese on the tour and giveaway! This giveaway will run – 1/1/15. Open to residents of Canada, Australia, Great Britain, and the USA. Enter at Goodreads.
I Truly Lament by Mathias B. Freese
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received a free advance copy of this book in exchange for this review.
I recommend this book for readers 18 and older.
Disclaimer: I'm not Jewish. Even I think the Holocaust is an unthinkable moment. Millions of people killed just because they were Jews, or infirm, or just because they disagreed with the Third Reich. Why would someone do this? That's a question we've been asking ourselves for the last 70 years. Numerous books have been written about this, too many to list here. I read Anne Frank's diary back in the late 1970s, about the same time that NBC aired a miniseries called "Holocaust." I also remember watching Schindler's List, which added scenes and details that NBC couldn't. It's hard to understand the full extent of the Holocaust unless you went through it yourself. I visited Dachau a few years ago, and I could feel the atmosphere of death and despair that pervades the camp, even after 70 years. The sad part is, this is going away. Survivors are dying of old age, so they won't be around to tell their story.\
That's what the author of this book tries to do--tell the story. He does this as a series of short stories. He imagines a golem who cracks a man in half. He has an "interview" with a doctor at the camps, and an "interview" with Eva Braun about Hitler's sex life. (That was particularly disturbing.) I found the fiction a bit off-putting at first, but then I realized that was the best way to tell the story. The danger here is that there are those who write off the entire Holocaust as fiction, so this could be dangerous. As I said, though, there is no way to capture the true horror unless you experienced it yourself. Given what's been happening with the Islamic State and the Taliban, are we on our way back there? All in all, a good book.
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