The Matter With Morris by David Bergen
Another book from the 2010 Giller Prize shortlist. Like the short stories in This Cake Is For The Party, this novel feels more like a writing exercise than a story. In this case the writing exercise is in character development – we get to see what’s going on in Morris’ head while not much is going on around him.
There’s nothing wrong with this book, it’s totally fine. As far as writing exercises go, it was no great struggle to spend time learning about Morris’ sexual fetishes, his desire to be Jewish, and his relationships with his family. In fact, if this is the author’s writing exercise, then I think he’d be able to produce fantastic fuller works.
I miss classic stories, with plots and climaxes and denouements. Those are the books that get re-read and recommended. This one is going right back to the library.
Morris’s son, Martin, whom he had dared to join the army during an argument, has been tragically killed in Afghanistan. The family suspects it will never get clear answers when it comes to his death. Now, Morris, a self-proclaimed pacifist, must face his grieving wife, his devastated family, and most of all, himself. But where will his salvation lie: In the arms of other women? In the words of the great thinkers he consults? In the angry letters of a bereaved father to an unthinking world? Or in the love of his daughters and grandson?