The Matter With Morris

The Matter With Morris

A Novel

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
9
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"When Morris Schutt, a prominent newspaper columnist, surveys his life over the past year, he sees disaster everywhere. His son has just been killed in Afghanistan, and his newspaper has put him on indefinite leave; his psychiatrist wife, Lucille, seems headed for the door; he is strongly attracted to Ursula, the wife of a dairy farmer from Minnesota; and his daughter appears to be having an affair with one of her professors. What is a thinking man to do but turn to Cicero, Plato, and Socrates in search of truth? Or better still, to call one of those discreet 'dating services' in search of happiness? But happiness, as Morris discovers, is not that easy to find."--P. [4] of cover.
Publisher: Berkeley, Calif. : Counterpoint, c2011.
ISBN: 9781582437590
1582437599
Branch Call Number: FICTION Bergen David 09/2011
Characteristics: 256 p. ;,23 cm.

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Spence41
Apr 23, 2017

What a struggle Morris went through in accepting the death of his son. At times, I too struggled reading this story. Bergen's writing did feel like an exercise in character development but in the end I both liked and understood Morris. I will also remember him, much more so than many fictional characters I encounter.

o
ownedbydoxies
Mar 26, 2017

It's okay, but I couldn't find much to pull me in to the life of the main character. He seemed both naive and mean-spirited much of the time.... and also blind to his own foibles, easily judgmental, etc. etc. So I didn't bother to finish this one, there being so many other books to read!

u
uncommonreader
May 01, 2012

A middle-aged journalist, the son of a Mennoniote preacher, and pacifist has an argument with his son, who subsequently enlists and is killed in Afghanistron. The book relates how everyone copes with this situation. Unfortunately, in the end, it is pedestrian.

j
jbeckber
Jan 08, 2012

Bergen won the Giller Prize for "The Time In Between", which sounds familiar to me, but I can't say for sure if I've read it. This book was another contender for the Giller Prize. I found it to be a really a lovely read. It is about a man who is trying to deal with his son's death as a soldier in Afghanistan. It reminded me a little of Mordecai Richler's writing in the witty banter between the spouses, and the main character seems to be the same older writer reflecting on life over scotch with a biting sense of humour. (There's also a weird obsession with being Jewish whilst he is a descendant of Russian Mennonites.)

u
UrsusH
Nov 18, 2011

Fine guided journey through a middle-aged male soul - though admittedly this point of view may be more clearly appreciated through my male cusp-of-late-aged lens. This book was my introduction to soul-mate David B. and it led me forthwith to his earlier 'Time In Between', a forceful tale in the same genre of dealing with the male debris of loss and inadequacy. Interested to see how his journey began, a decade-plus before Morris, I am about to crack the cover of his first novel. Travelling backwards like this strikes me as what Bergen would recommend.

ksoles May 19, 2011

David Bergen's description of the flailing columnist, Morris Shutt, contains doses of both bitterness and fondness. Morris has lost his son, Martin, to the war in Afghanistan, his marriage has ended and his writing has morphed into dull diatribes. In the face of such upheaval, The Matter With Morris asks: where does one rediscover happiness and fulfillment? Morris seeks the answer through a variety of channels: via an American woman who religiously reads his column, by reading Plato and Cicero and in the solidarity of a male-therapy group to name a few. Bergen's strength lies in not showing his readers an easy way out, in pulling us in different directions and in leaving us to decide whether or not the protagonist achieves redemption.

l
lisahiggs
May 09, 2011

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.

But 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.

p
Philla15
Mar 20, 2011

This is a story of disappointment and grief. The writing is delightful and Bergen is clearly a master of the polished word. Morris and his family are all very sympathetic and believabe characters. Since the subject is the death of a young son/soldier in Afghanistan, be warned if this subject is too close to home for some readers. Bergen mirrors the experience of Morris with that of an American family also facing the death of their soldier/son. Issues such as gun control, the responsibility of governments and the almost comical overly conscientiousness of security in today's world are touched upon. The best scene for me was the interaction with the Toronto taxi driver who is an immigrant from Afghanistan with Morris. Of course we are all just parents doing our best for ourselves and our children. As Canadians, we take our freedom for granted just a little bit too easily.

k
kturnbull
Jan 01, 2011

good. Guy' recovering from death of son in war- quits job goes a bit strange. Almost takes up w farmer wife who also lost son.

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