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Gillian Mercurio’s Recent Review of TESSERA
Readers familiar with the works of Matthew Freese will expect the best and will not be disappointed by his new book, “Tesserae”, a memoir in which he reveals much of his early life and his struggles with the demons of his past that shaped him into the man he has become: educator, psychotherapist and author. Although the story focuses on two summers in the late 1960s, it is told in context of his childhood and events in his later life, even up to the present time.
This is a raw, often heart wrenching, insight into the life of a young man who seems to be drawn into – or seeks? – disastrous relationships in a tumultuous time in our history dominated by war, the sexual revolution and the search for individual freedom and expression. The memoir is richly populated by fascinating characters whose lives intersect with that of the author and leave the reader anxious for more. The writing style is brilliant, blunt and sometimes darkly humorous. However, Mr. Freese tells his story in such a detached manner that I often forgot I was reading of true events. Once or twice he even relinquishes his voice to that of another. I imagine this was deliberate on his part, as a way of distancing himself from discomfort. To me, the most compelling quote from the book occurs after he describes the conclusion of a painful affair, an ending due in large part to the egregious professional behavior of his therapist – who is simultaneously counseling his lover. His rage toward this person was immense and, I venture to guess, persists until this day. However, he believes that he himself became a more skilled therapist due to that incident. The quote to which I refer is found in another context later in the book, but is very apropos: “Often, in practice as a therapist, when a client was buffeted by choices and overwhelmed by competing priorities, I would suggest that another choice would be to delay.” Wise words indeed.
Gillian Galbraith; author of “Kisimba”