Down To A Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freese
Publisher: Wheatmark | 2007 | 134 pages
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In my honest opinion, I found Down to a Sunless Sea quite a difficult read. There are 15 short stories in here and I could not understand all of them. I had to read some of them a couple of times to understand them better. In a way, the stories make you think and form your own opinions about the characters and the endings. Some stories don’t have a clear ending, hence making you guess it.
Mathias B. Freese brings you into the minds of troubled individuals. For example, in ‘I’ll Make It, I Think’, the narrator describes himself as normal-looking at some parts of his body while some aren’t so normal. He says that girls wouldn’t date him because they wouldn’t hold a deformed hand like his. So even though he’s different from the rest, he is still human and has normal human feelings.
In the story ‘Herbie’, Herbie aspires to start a kind of shoeshine business with his friend. His father also polishes shoes for a living and Herbie wants to follow in his footsteps. Unfortunately, despite his son looking up to him, Herbie’s father is not very happy of his son’s idea.
I like the story ‘Alabaster’. It is about an encounter of a 9-year-old boy with an old Polish woman who had survived the Holocaust. She showed him her numbered hand but it’s not clear if the boy understood what it all meant. It’s a simple story but a truly poignant one about a small boy spending time with a lonely old lady by listening to her talk.
All the same, ‘Little Errands’ is exceptionally interesting. The person telling the story is kind of restless. He has mailed his letters but he kept worrying whether he had remembered to put stamps on them or whether the mailman collected them or not. Sometimes, I am like that too. It may just be a little chore but it’s so simple that we feel like we did not do it right. Like something went wrong somewhere and we are not sure about it, that’s why we worry and keep thinking about it!
Have you ever answered back at your teacher probably because you don’t like her or feel that she’s not teaching the right thing? That’s what Nicholas did in ‘Nicholas’. This short story was probably written by the character Nicholas himself since there are spelling and punctuation errors. It seems that he’s not good in English and he receives neither respect nor attention unlike another kid from Iran whose English isn’t that good either.
Most of the short stories are about children and young adults and about how they feel towards themselves as well as their surroundings. Like what I had mentioned earlier, this book gets you thinking and asking questions. That’s how it is with me. What about you?
***Also, I’d like to thank Mathias Freese for sending me a copy of this book for review.