#77 ~ Down to a Sunless SeaJune 15, 2008 at 8:58 pm | Posted in Books, Reading | 5 Comments
Tags: abnormal psychology, anxiety, character sketch, Down to a Sunless Sea, Mathias B Freese, short fiction
This slim book is a collection of 15 extremely short stories that fall in the category of character sketches. They look, for the most part, inside the psyche of people dealing with disturbing experiences or memories. Each of the vignettes are serious and dark in nature and you just get a little taste for each character before meeting the next. I was almost equally curious to know more about the character I just met or thankful to be moving forward.
Of the 15 stories, three of them have sat with me since I finished the book a week ago:”The Chatham Bear, ” “Alabaster,” and “Little Errands.” “The Chatham Bear” tells the story, through the eyes of a seasonal visitor, of how the residents of Chatham reacted to sightings of a bear in their community. What the narrator ultimately thinks about the bear and the community is thought provoking. Equally interesting is “Alabaster,” the story of a young boy who often sees an elderly woman and her middle aged daughter sitting on a park bench. The story of their single conversation, while dark, reminds me of exactly how it used to feel to find myself in a conversation with an elderly person when I was a child. One never knows the impact that a simple conversation between strangers might have to both parties. My favorite sketch, however, was “Little Errands.” As someone who has experienced deep and lasting anxiety will completely understand this narrator. There wasn’t necessarily any insight provided within “Little Errands,” but anyone reading this should be able to understand the way anxiety feels and prompts those suffering from it to think and act.
It’s hard to say how I would classify Down to a Sunless Sea. As most of the stories were less than 10 pages, this book was good to have in the car to read when 10 to 15 minutes of free time occurred. Still, there wasn’t much to connect to either positively or negatively as a reader. “Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Father Was a Nazi,” a heavy-handed look at Schwarzenegger’s ancestry, was so short that it was over before I realized how much it bothered me. I would recommend this to someone studying abnormal psychology. If for no other reason, this book could provide interesting case studies. Otherwise, I would suggest that a casual reader wait until Freese, a gifted writer, publishes a full length novel. Many of his characters are deserving of more time and attention.
To buy this book, click here.