The Matter with Morris

The Matter with Morris

by David Bergen
     
 

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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

Overview

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 and Plato and Socrates in search of the 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.
David Bergen’s most accomplished novel, The Matter with Morris is an unforgettable story with a vitality, charm, and intelligence all its own. Bergen proves once again that he is a rare and exceptional writer, dazzling us with his wit and touching us with his compassion.

Editorial Reviews

Polly Morrice
This fine, small-scale…novel's main point is not to examine the matter of writing about one's family and whether that counts as a betrayal. The Matter With Morris is more interested in showing that simply getting on with life is one of the best ways to counter grief, a premise it supports with quiet effectiveness.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
Morris Schutt is a 51-year-old, syndicated columnist who really wants to be Jewish, an obsession that his estranged wife dismisses as a "secret wish for tenderness and affection." Since his son's death in Afghanistan, Morris's life has been quickly unraveling. Everything Morris once loved suddenly falls away—his wife kicks him out of the house, his two daughters treat him like a stranger, his boss puts him on a hiatus following a disastrous column—tough challenges for someone who once believed in certainty. Morris retreats from life, canceling his cell phone, email, and cable and cashing out his investments. He holds on to the edge tightly and eventually learns how far family bonds can stretch and still hold. It's a challenge to create a compelling story and populate the pages with liberal references from many esteemed writers and thinkers, from Saul Bellow to Cicero, but Bergen (The Time in Between) does it with great equanimity, humor, and sensitivity. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

Praise for The Matter with Morris

"Bergen writes earnestly about dignity and duty, particularly as they apply to fatherhood and women . . . The novel is as strong as his introspection: 'Questions flitted about his brain, and sometimes, on the verge of grasping an answer, he felt a moment of contentment. I am on the earth for no reason other than to be Morris Schutt.'” —Booklist

Library Journal
The life of Canadian syndicated columnist Morris Schutt goes into a tailspin after his son is killed in Afghanistan. After he loses his job and separates from his wife, his increasingly aberrant behavior mystifies his family and friends. Will Morris be able to overcome his anger and grief and rebuild his life? Despite the sympathy the reader will surely feel in response to Morris's loss, the character's narcissism makes him rather hard to like. The stakes don't seem terribly high for him, as his unemployed life includes driving a Jaguar and hiring high-priced escorts. Although he gets himself into a number of potentially dangerous situations, including a relationship that's not quite an affair with a married Minnesota woman whose son died in Iraq, Morris always emerges relatively unscathed. VERDICT Despite the negative feelings Bergen's (The Time in Between) protagonist may evoke, the decidedly male perspective and philosophical bent of his nonlinear storytelling might find some fans in followers of Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, John Updike, and the like.—Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582438986
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
09/01/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
File size:
294 KB

Meet the Author

David Bergen won the 2005 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel The Time in Between. He is the winner of the 2009 Writers Trust Notable Author Award, two McNally Robinson Book of the Year Awards, the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, and the Carol Shields Book Award. He lives in Winnipeg, Canada.

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