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Down to a Sunless Sea


Mathias B. Freese's Down to a Sunless Sea is a collection of highly acclaimed short stories ranging from a slice of life look at a young Jewish boy's upbringing to the edgier and darker glance at a suicidal, deformed man's struggle.

Every character is expertly drawn and vivid. Freese obviously knows how to write about completely and totally different characters, each one being loudly distinct and bold in their own right, though admittedly sometimes a bit too disturbing for my taste. Each story is written in such a way as to never be boring or even slightly dull.

However, am I a big fan of short stories? No. And it's nothing against this collection in particular, it is more the genre in general. I like to follow characters for as many pages as possible and really get involved deeply in their lives, and I never feel I can with short stories. I'm sure there are many, many reader's who disagree with this and are able to have strong connections with short story characters but I'm afraid I'm not one of them. To me, it's kind of like being introduced to a fascinating person and then never seeing them again. Your interest is sparked, but you don't get the payoff or satisfaction that a novel (in my opinion) brings.

Plus, there is the feeling of profound confusion I get when the story seems to abruptly end. Again, this is probably my own lack of understanding and appreciation of the overall idea of a short story - so don't take this so much as a critique of Down to a Sunless Sea but more a general assessment of my take on it. My thirst was not quenched, so to speak.

BUT, as I said, the writing is crisp and daring - sometimes shockingly so - and I would easily recommend this to any fan of short stories. Especially readers who enjoy deciphering the puzzling, abstract, sudden end of each foray into these character's lives.

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