I Truly Lament

Working Through the Holocaust

Fiction - Short Story/Novela
252 Pages
Reviewed on 11/07/2014
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Author Biography

Mathias B. Freese is a writer, teacher and psychotherapist. His recent collection of essays, This Mobius Strip of Ifs, was the winner of the National Indie excellence Book Award of 2012 in general non-fiction and a 2012 Global Ebook Award finalist. His I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust was one of three finalists chosen in the 2012 Leapfrog Press Fiction contest out of 424 submissions.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Heather Osborne for Readers' Favorite

I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust by Mathias B. Freese is a unique compilation of short stories, taking the reader on a psychological journey through the emotions elicited by the Holocaust. Beginning with a man calling out to a golem, a Jewish monster from folklore, for assistance in escaping his tormentors, the stories provide a different perspective on the Holocaust. There are ones told from the perspective of prisoners in the concentration camps to a mock radio interview with Hitler’s lover, Eva Braun. The author offers the perspective of a Holocaust revisionist, someone who does not believe the Holocaust happened the way it is described, in the form of a letter. The collection concludes with the golem questioning his reason for existence.

I have read many books about the Holocaust as I find the subject very interesting from a psychological standpoint. I have to say though, that Mr. Freese has placed an entirely new twist on the subject. I will admit to being perplexed at first, having expected something a bit different. As the collection unfolded, I was drawn into the raw emotion. I particularly enjoyed the story, “Cantor Matyas Balogh.” Matyas found love so late in life, only to have it ripped from him. Freese does not just tell a tale, he creates a basis for reflection. I believe that he is completely correct when he states that someone can never truly understand the Holocaust. We can write about it, but the lasting impact on the people that survived can never be put into words. I Truly Lament is a remarkable collection that will leave the reader speechless.

Heather Osborne

"I Truly Lament is a remarkable collection that will leave the reader speechless." -- Heather Osborne for Reader's Favorite

"I've said all I can say in the review, but thank you for letting me read this. I am truly blown away by your artistry, more than I can possibly convey in my short review. I hope I have done your book justice." -- Heather Osborne for Reader's Favorite

Star Rating: 5 out of 5
"Freese does not mince words in his latest anthology, including the thought-provoking statements at the beginning of his stories. I Truly Lament is a fascinating read. But readers, beware! It is visceral from beginning to end and indubitably not for the faint of heart."--San Francisco Book Review

F.T. Donereau

In the preface to his new book, “I Truly Lament Working Through the Holocaust” Mathias B. Freese declares himself a failure. He also states that all artists who struggle with the Holocaust must begin with the acceptance of failure. I fully understand his point: the holocaust as a living horror is too much to be rendered fully, in its full deviance, by any artist. This is the failure I believe Mr. Freese is talking about. He is right. It is too large of an incomprehensible ugliness; it can not be fully understood by those witnessing (in this case reading) a work of art. To know the Holocaust one must have been there as victim. But surely this does not preclude us from gaining much from the tales of this short story collection, of getting the gut punch of human folly, human failure. Reading these descriptive, imaginative renderings does in fact allow great insight. Books like this must continue to be created. We need to know as much as we can, to be hit with what was over and over, if there is to be any hope of avoiding such a living hell from appearing again. Mathias Freese's art of storytelling, his wondrous imaginative flair, gives one hope that eyes will be opened, and hearts too.

Perhaps the great achievement of “I Truly Lament Working Through the Holocaust” is the variety of angles the author manages to strike in this collection totaling 27 stories. With brief strokes (the stories are mostly quite short) Mr. Freese brings forth a great deal of different perspectives--- including a sci-fi story I would have thought impossible to make work but which does--- which enable us to see the Shoah in more fuller colors. It is not one man's story. It is not one point of view, one setting, one style of painting. In the end, we are left holding a mural, rather than a single still life. With the many stories cemented in the mind, the reader is able to feel and know this history in ways I don't believe other books, or movies, have been able to do. It is the individual creativity, unique and at times startling, that makes “I Truly Lament” indispensable.

Because the writer here has taken the time to draw down history in detail, we are able to enter the past with a sense of knowing essential to feeling these stories. Freese is not afraid to lay bare hard things, the foibles of the human animal, its fears and cowardice, pettiness and foolishness and strength and fortitude as well. Backing down from hard truths would have taken away from this work. Because the author was fearless, he has given us truth, and that is always the most powerful thing; dealing with this most serious subject, eliminating some natures because they are too troubling to confess may just have amounted to a crime. We are blessed that this book does no such thing.

“A brutal knock on the door. When I opened it, three German soldiers with rifles barged in and grabbed me. I didn't resist, it's not my way.” These are the opening lines of a story entitled, “Of No Use” that appears part way through the collection. The hard clarity of those lines says a lot, don't you think? I sense no heroes in those words, but I do feel humanity. Further on we get this opening in a story titled, “Snow Globe II: Homage to Kafka” “Snow reveals profoundly dark and black shadows. As the camp lights glare down from towers above, grays are beautifully exposed.” The first example has a brutality and truth to it. The second is otherworldly, description infused with sensuousness, but still somehow grounded. Many worlds in one subject, many ways of coming to it. Mathias Freese wields a strong pen. He writes with beauty, imagination, and fists of stone. Here in “I Truly Lament Working Through the Holocaust” he gives us what we must know, must never forget. That it is art, makes it living, and anything but a failure.

Gillian Galbraithon

of 5 stars
“I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”
ByGillian Galbraithon October 7, 2015

Format: Paperback

This body of work by Freese challenges both reader and reviewer on many levels. It is a collection of short stories describing the atrocities of the Holocaust and the torments of surviving it. Although the theme is constant, and the conclusions starkly inevitable, the individual tales are unique and often intensely personal.
Because the author’s writing style and ability are exceptional, I found I had to read each story several times in order to get past the words and focus on the content (other than for one or two stories which I was not able to finish because they were too disturbing – for me anyway). It was then I was able to see the strands of dark humor that weave through the narratives, and appreciate the sometimes seemingly less significant examples of the depredations described.
Rather than attempting an exhaustive (and exhausting) discussion of each of the twenty seven stories, I will mention only two which, for whatever reason, really appealed to me. The first is a relatively simple tale, “Food”, which reads like a waking dream that leaves the dreamer sweating and helpless, desperately longing to return to it. The second, “Cantor Matyas Balogh”, is a poignant love story written with such grace and cadence that it could be (is) poetry.
I recommend this book without reservation

C.R. Putsche

5.0 out of 5 stars
Unique and Remarkable Compilation of 27 Holocaust Stories
ByC.R.PUTSCHEon March 20, 2015

Format: Kindle Edition

I truly Lament is a unique and remarkable compilation of 27 Holocaust stories. Each story explores different points of view, concepts and theses all corresponding to the Holocaust. The stories take the reader on a deep, psychological and profound emotional journey into the stark reality of what it was like to live, exist or to die in the inhumane conditions of the concentration camps run by the Nazis. In the opening chapters the stories deal mostly with the plight of Jews in concentration camps that have no choice to endure the cruel and unjustified punishments of the prison guards who would decide their own type of weapon as they saw fit. Many of the men were ordered to dig trenches for hours on end, often resulting in their death as the Nazi ideology behind this cruel task was to wear the men out to a point where they evolved into Muselmänner (the stage before the ovens). Existence in the camps was short, nasty and brutish without meaning. The Nazis kept the men alive upon the barest thread of existence, teased individuality out of them as they wanted the men to loath themselves to their last dying moment. Most vile of all the Nazis wanted the men to willingly go along with their own extermination.

Perhaps the most harrowing of all the stories is "Hummingbird" where a Holocaust survivor tells us his own unique story at the age of 82. Part of him wants to live, and a part of him doesn't mind dying as his life was so consumed by his existence in the camps that he doesn't know what it was like to grow up without those horrors. He is damaged in so many ways and feels his life is in transit as he was made to slog through one camp to another in his younger years. He concludes that he now wanders the earth as an old man in search of a planet and the only reason he survived the camps was that his body desired to go on long after his mind had given up.

Mathias B. Freese has created a powerful thought-provoking work of fiction that cleverly examines a number of diverse perspectives on the Holocaust through several different writing styles, ranging from gothic, Utopian, romantic and chimerical. Each and every story will no doubt leave the reader speechless as we follow the few survivors that managed to outlive the brutality and starvation imposed by the Nazis, only to find their lives are full of insecurities and there is no escape from the torment they once suffered. All of which leads me to close and agree that we will never be done with the Holocaust and this book is living proof of that and I fully agree with other reviewers that it should be mandatory reading for all.

Grady Harp

ByGrady HarpHALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon October 18, 2014

Format: Paperback

Mathias B. Freese is a writer, teacher, and psychotherapist. His recent collection of essays, "This Mobius Strip of Ifs," was the winner of the National Indie Excellence Book Award of 2012 in general nonfiction and a 2012 Global Ebook Award finalist. His "I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust" was one of three finalists chosen in the 2012 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest out of 424 submissions.

Were Mathias B. Freese not such a gifted writer this book might become overbearing after a few stories. But the compassion and the ability to stand in the vantage of the speakers recalling the Holocaust is truly a profoundly moving experience. These stories ache and peel back the yellowing seal of time that disuse allows to settle over unrepeated truths and places us in the concentration camps, living (or surviving or enduring or not) along side fellow `detainees'. Freese makes us feel, smell, cringe, and cry as these arias are sung from the stage of hate created during WW II.

It is only by being placed there via the time capsule Freese provides that reminds us of the horror of this hideous blight on the face of humanity. Only then can we ever avoid its recurrence - or be more objective as we see the genocide and human trafficking and other brutalities that somehow become hidden in our newspapers. This is a book that should be in the hands of everyone, in all countries, of all beliefs, of all living survivors from that time, with the plea this never happens again. Grady Harp, October 14

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Amazon Customer

5.0 out of 5 stars
A Collection of Stories Based on the Holocaust
ByAmazon Customeron May 27, 2015

Format: Paperback

I Truly Lament is a collection of stories based on the Holocaust. They all vary with their themes, as with any compilation like this. The first is based on a Jewish man on the run and trying to call a Golem to protect him with less than desirable results. You will read about horrible things that were done to the Jews and some outlandish events. None of them are true stories but they all feel real with what is known about the atrocities the Nazis did during the Holocaust.

I Truly Lament is not a happy go lucky book. There are no warm, fuzzy, happily ever after endings. We are all taught how horrible the Holocaust was but I don’t think many people truly understand what happened. I’ve seen news articles where some places are trying to teach our children that the Holocaust never happened and it was just political propaganda. Things like this sicken me. This book is one that I think many people should be required to read.

I admit that not all of the stories flow well for me but that is something that you can expect from any collection of stories. But overall this is a great yet heart wrenching collection on the Holocaust. This is one book that will open your eyes and break you heart at the same time.

I received this book from the author for free in exchange for an honest review.