I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust by Mathias B. Freese

holocaust short storiesIs there a book big enough to elucidate or explain genocide on a mass scale? We can read about facts and figures, but the human toll is impossible to take in all at once. If there is any way to understand the mass murder of millions of human beings, it is in small doses or glimpses of the horror from the viewpoint of individuals. Snapshots of genocide, rather than great, over-arching tomes that seek to explain the inexplicable.  The most effective works of art about the subject of the holocaust, in which an estimated 11 million people were put to death, have been movies like Louis Malle’s Au Revoir Les Enfants, and books like Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz,  which tell an individual story about the holocaust’s impact on one person. I Truly Lament, by focusing on the dark details and even minutia of genocide, personalizes the horror and allows the reader to grapple with its larger meaning and with the meaning of subsequent holocausts and genocides.

I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust, by Mathias B. Freese is a collection of 27 short stories that seeks to shed light on the holocaust by showing it from various angles. In the preface, the author writes, “All literary depictions of the Holocaust end as failures, perhaps revealing shards of understanding,” and Freese has written a collection of “shards” that are often horrifying, sometimes amusing and always fascinating. From the story of a man trying to escape the Nazis who enlists the help of a world-weary golem, to a dialogue about food between a concentration camp survivor and his rescuer to an interview with Eva Braun, Freese has written a collection that shows his own struggle for understanding, and that helps anyone with the fortitude to withstand some of the gory details to understand as well.  Even the “lighter” stories, about holocaust deniers and about Hitler memorabilia collectors, are infused with a great sense of sadness and even incredulity. Almost as though the author himself cannot quite believe what he is writing.

There are no silver linings or maudlin messages about hope in the midst of despair in this collection, and reading some is truly like staring into an abyss of cruelty and inhuman behavior. Freese’s stories, written from varying points of view and in varying styles, from magical realism to quasi-gothic, are often reminiscent of Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird, with its grotesque descriptions of senseless violence. Each focuses on Jewish victims and the unique impact of the holocaust on Jews, and each is the work of a talented writer who freely admits that he is obsessed with examining the holocaust and wrestling with its meaning. These stories do just that, and it seems fitting that stories about a subject as complicated and dark and difficult as the murder of 11 million people and the attempted genocide of an entire culture should themselves be complicated and dark and difficult.

I Truly Lament on Amazon

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“Love Duology” by Richard Schwindt

Love Duology b“Love Duology” is comprised of 2 short, connected novels. The first part, “Love Stacey” was shortlisted by the judges in the International 3-Day Novel contest, an annual event that challenges authors to write an entire novel over the course of 72 hours. “Love Susan” was written a year later, and continues to follow Stacey and her psychiatrist Susan, though now in different circumstances.

In the first story we meet Stacey, a professor who has lost her memory and, as a result, a sense of who she is and what her life means. When she meets alcoholic Jonathon Shaw, events are set in motion that reveal that she has supernatural gifts and that make it necessary for her to start the process of regaining painful memories.  The next book centers on Susan, who is Stacey’s psychiatrist/hypnotherapist and who is instrumental in Stacey’s regaining of past memories. Susan is able to enlist Stacey’s ability to move freely through space and time to get in touch with famed psychiatrist Milton Erickson, who has been dead for 30 years, in order to save a social worker from a shooting.

Both halves of the book alternate between voices and narrators, so the reader gets to experience the events from multiple viewpoints, though there are moments where the characters admit to being unreliable narrators and to changing the story to one that suits them better. This is a hard book to categorize…there are elements of humor (farce, even) as well as fantasy, as when Susan and Stacey change time periods and Susan at one point becomes a gorilla,  but ultimately the 2 books in the novel are about love in various forms.

About the Author

Author Richard SchwindtRichard Schwindt is a therapist, hypnotherapist and writer in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. In addition to “Love Duology,” he is the author of 2 books on workplace bullying and a series of 4 mysteries set in a remote town in Northern Ontario.See the Author's Books at

Author Website

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