The Matter with Morris by local author David Bergen takes on a journey of life, love, loss and questions why certain things happen the way they do.
Bergen’s main character, newspaper columnist Morris Schutt, is going through a life crisis. He’s lost his son to the war in Afghanistan and feels his marriage slowly deteriorating. Through all of this, he finds comfort through corresponding with Ursula, a woman from Minnesota who reads his column.
Morris goes on a journey of self-discovery and makes discoveries about his children, his wife and a few other people he meets along the way.
Set in Winnipeg, Bergen’s references easily allow Winnipeggers to keep pace with the familiarity of the novel (“Up Osborne to the foot of the bridge and then right, down a path to the edge of the river.”).
A real page-turner, the book continuously leaves the reader on edge, anticipating what Morris’s next move will be.
Bergen’s wit and choice of words engage the reader from the start and evoke empathy with the characters. Included in the book are letters from Ursula, the lady he comes in contact with through the magic of the written word.
Letters from his son’s killer also allow readers an uncomfortable, first-hand glance at what such an experience would be like.
An easy read – the smaller font allows the reader to easily differentiate Morris’ thoughts and the other characters – most people will relate to the book. Although you may not be in this exact situation, we can all relate to the ups and downs Morris deals with both physically and emotionally.
Ultimately, his story urges the reader to examine their own lives and learn from our and others’ wrongdoings. Overall, the subject of forgiveness and love stood out the most as the moral of the story. The way the story unfolds keeps you curious and interested.
David Bergen will appear at the Thin Air Winnipeg International Writers Festival. The Matter with Morris is in stores now.
Published in Volume 65, Number 3 of The Uniter (September 16, 2010)