The book can be ordered from Wheatmark.com or the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. Publication date mid-February 2016
A recent article in the New York Times noted that “Imitation runs rampant in memoir land,” and this observation underscores many of the memoirs that exist currently in the writing market. In reading Mathias Freese’s Tesserae, however, it becomes clear that this is no mere pastiche of other works; his memoir stands above much of the crowd in its commitment to ask, “What is it to remember? To recall, retrieve, reflect, to go back for a moment, to feel a period of time long since gone.” By posing these questions, Freese works within the answers by tenderly plaiting a web that spreads from Woodstock, Las Vegas, Long Island and North Carolina. The author locates friends and family, lovers now long since gone, desire and passion sometimes quenched sometimes unrequited, and the harrowing agony that comes from that most soul crushing word of all, regret.
Through Freese’s eyes and prose he reminds the reader of the universalities among mankind that could unite us as humans, but more often than not turns us inwardly upon ourselves with sadness and lamentation of our profound distance and separateness. Tesserae: A Memoir of Two Summers is not a work of sadness and grief. Rather, it is an effort from a trained psychotherapist adept at understanding the feelings that we all have. This therapeutic perspective enriches the memoir, grounding the reader in reminding us that the author is working to understand his past and how it has shaped his life. None are spared from the ravages of time and memory, not even Mathias Freese.
His memoir reminds the reader “that insight is never enough, that feelings are the royal road to consciousness, that awareness in itself is an action, that memory is sweet but often an attack of the heart.” In Freese’s worldview, we all may attain “a measure of peace.” Or what Hemingway called a clean well-lighted place. The quiescence found in Tesserae: A Memoir of Two Summers has a staying effect upon the mind; this memoir lingers in the reader’s memory for some time.
Steven Berndt, M.A.—American Literature
Steven Berndt is an English instructor who specializes in proletarian literature of the Thirties.