Wednesday, July 11, 2007

An Engaging Journey of Self Realization

SamSaraby Grady Harp

For those who have had the pleasure of discovering Mel Mathews through his first two books, LeRoi and Menopause Man, the wandering, questing central figure of Malcolm Clay has become a new literary icon. The promises so obviously made in the first parts of this (to date) trilogy happily have come to fruition in SamSara - a novel of sophisticated writing, thoughtful ruminations, keen humor, informative explorations of themes from religion to traits of visited countries, and so many clever double entendres - that Mathews' place in the ranks of fine contemporary writers is assured.

Mel Mathews has developed a style of interlocking his many characters, placing them strategically throughout the three books whether in flashbacks or dreams or weighing comparisons, of narrating in first person with his 40-year-old protagonist who has waded through a life of addiction, child abuse, frustrated love affairs, the success and boredom of being a tractor salesman, to the point of confrontation with his basic inner demons that prevent his success with women. In 'SamSara' he has reached a plane where he is seeking spiritual guidance, rolfing, and ultimately joining a group of twenty women in a trek to Florence, Italy for a seminar "Exploring the Images in Word and Art of Mary Magdalene: central to the theme is developing one's inner image of the feminine psyche". That is how committed to change is Malcolm Clay!

From Carmel, California to Zurich, to Florence for the seminar (a period in which Mathews details so much interesting information about the feminine aspect of Christianity, Gnosticism, the concept that Mary Magdalene as the Holy Grail bore a child named Sara Kali by Christ and escaped to a French village Saintes Maries de la Mer where the annual celebration of Sara AKA the Black Queen still exists), to France, and to Ireland Malcolm Clay writes in diary fashion, emails, and in dreams shared about his progress in dissembling his dysfunctional approach to women and in the process finding the validity of his own existence. 'You know, there's something about becoming more aware of what unconsciously runs a person. Awareness is a thief. It's robbed me of an illusion; it's robbed me of the belief that the only way a man can make love to a woman is by physically penetrating her.' And from this stance Malcolm grows into an enlightened man, forgiving his past, and getting in touch with his internal masculine and feminine counterparts.

One of the uniquely beautiful aspects of Mathews' writing is his ability to explore these thoughtful (even profound) topics with a effervescent sense of humor and a gift for communicating details of living in Florence, struggling with the French attitude, and seeking out the funky little eateries and Internet cafes in Ireland. For after all, the main reason for this meandering journey to Europe is to follow-up on a brief but meaningful encounter with a lass named Kelli whom he met in Carmel and agrees to meet in Ireland in hopes that he has finally found his perfect mate, hopefully with the added growth of his own sense of self. But the ending leaves some unanswered questions that suggest we may still be following Malcolm Clay through future novels!

After reading three books by Mathews, growing with his developing facility with construction of a novel, with his finessing of his style, the gifts of this author become increasingly apparent. He is wise, clever, earthy, and has many surprises up his sleeve. Example: 'SamSara' as a title for this book references the Hindu/Buddhist word for 'cycle of rebirth, of flowing together from this life into a reincarnation, an ignorance of True Self', yet it also is the name of the Irish pub where he comes to an awareness of his plight with Kelli, and in separating SamSara with the capital 'S' he also pulls in the name 'Sara', the product of Mary Magdalene coupling with Christ. That is the pleasure of reading Mel Mathews - he takes the reader on an engaging journey of self realization peppered by countless chuckles and observations of the human condition. He is an important author: he deserves to be widely read! Grady Harp, May 07

In addition to the USA Today and bloggingauthors.com, Grady Harp's reviews appear on Barnes & Noble, Soapadoo, Powells Books, and he is an Amazon.com Top Ten reviewer!!

To learn more about the Malcolm Clay series and to order books, visit www.melmathews.com

No comments :

Post a Comment