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Down to a Sunless Sea Paperback – November 15, 2007

18 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 148 pages
  • Publisher: Wheatmark (November 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587367335
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587367335
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,772,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More 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 Book Award of 2012 in general nonfiction 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Betty L. Dravis VINE VOICE on March 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
As a rule, I truly enjoy dark stories, but I like a little satire, a little dark humor--and perhaps a big dollop of horror--in the mix. That's probably why few of these fifteen short stories held my interest.

My favorite story was "Alabaster," about a unique, caring relationship between a Holocaust survivor and her daughter, and what happened when a little boy entered their lives for a warm, fleeting moment. That story told me something; it made me think and had a beginning, middle and end ... as I like my stories to do.

I also liked "Echo," the story of a man who always destroyed his friendships. The best friend he ever had struggled to understood him, but was eventually forced to let go. This was a fine character study of both men.

My favorite character was "Herbie," a tough, resilient, little guy. I cheered when he finally stood up to his abusive father. The author, Mathias Freese, doesn't say, but I like to think that Herbie made it in life.

I felt empathy with all these troubled souls and give this author credit for digging into their minds, but he just went in, looked around, reported his findings, and not much else happened. But at least he understands the inner workings of the mind, it appears. With his background as a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, he should.

I was going to give this short book three stars because of its "dryness," but because the stories are so well-written--even poetic in places--I'm giving it four stars. Perhaps the lack is in me for not understanding what the author was trying to say, but I feel justified because only the few I mentioned entertained me.

FYI, I won this book on J. Kaye Oldner's Book Blog, a great place for avid readers. This is the sixth book I've won in her weekly raffle. You should visit and try your luck.

Reviewed by: Betty Dravis, 2008
1106 Grand Boulevard
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Kaye Oldner on February 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Mathias Freese has been a clinical social worker and psychotherapist for twenty five years. By his own admission, he has a dark view of humanity, but has kept a wry sense of humor. He shows understanding and compassion to the deviant and damaged in these fifteen short stories which are collected in his book DOWN TO A SUNLESS SEA.

Jane Holt, MLA, wrote in the book's foreword "To be understood-to be felt- is the author's purpose in this collection of short stories as in all of his writings because it is his purpose in his relationships with others and the world at large."

The stories are all different and there are no happy endings or sense of closure. "I'll make it, I think" is based on Freese's crippled cousin. "For a While, Here, In this Moment" was written for his daughter showing his understanding of her physical agony and despair.

Dark humor shows in "The Chatham Bear" and "Arnold Schwarzenegger's Father Was a Nazi." Chatham Bear was based on actual events while Arnold's Father was written in 1991, before he became Governor of California.

"Alabaster" is a about a concentration camp survivor, and "Juan Peron's Hands" is about a psychotic and how he has regained himself. "Little Errands" was scary; it was easy to see how a person can become neurotic. "Echo" ends with "What a lethally fascinating if not insular experience it must be to value one's own self above all others and not fully realize that narcissistic attraction for most of one's life." "Young Man" had emotionally died a long time before his actual death "Nicholas," who is in high-school, is a commentary about our educational system.

"Billy's Mirrored Wall" shows how easy is for parents to instill their dysfunctional behavior in children.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By H. Grove (errantdreams) TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a very literary book---the words curl in and out in a sort of prose poetry, and I know there were historical and literary references I didn't catch. It is this without being elitist or pompous in the way that some literary pieces can be; there's no sense of the author trying to stump or impress the reader with his base of knowledge. He includes what's relevant and necessary to his pieces and that's all.

Unlike many short story collections by a single author, this one varies dramatically from piece to piece. Each one is told in a voice appropriate to its subject, whether that's a barely literate high schooler scornful of his English teacher or the inner chatter of an obsessive-compulsive.

What ties these stories together is Freese's remarkable empathy, his astonishing ability to get inside the heads of his characters and simply present them as who they are, show the world from their eyes without any outside judgments clouding the issue. A young man with a lame arm and foot (he's named them Ralph and Lon) swears and speaks frankly about all sorts of 'taboo' topics. A sighting of a bear in a rural community serves as a lesson in fear and normalcy. An old woman's chat with a boy on a bench one evening is a heart-breaking look at what it can mean to live life after a concentration camp. Several stories touch on the Holocaust from various directions, while others examine the everyday slings and arrows that leave their marks---for good or ill---on our psyches.

These are fascinating stories, and I don't know how to adequately express how worthwhile they are.
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