I Truly Lament // Review

I Truly Lament: Working through the Holocaust


Author: Mathias B. Freese, the author of other novels and collections of essay/short stories including the award-winning ‘The i Tetralogy’ and others. He requested that I review his book.

Rating: ****


 I study short stories at university with perhaps a feeling of disappointment, mostly because I prefer novels and sinking deep into stories. Yet this collection of short stories on one subject, whilst written in different settings, was fascinating and very well written.

As a history student the subject matter of the Holocaust was equally as fascinating and not because I find this topic generally interesting, I would honestly say I shy away from it since it is horrendous and also hugely frightening to approach as a historian, yet Reese does not shy away at all. In fact the intensity and the graphic details of this book are so overpowering I would give it an 18+ reader value however, don’t mistake this for graphic details of a child inside a gas chamber, one of the unique factors of this collections, I found, are the settings of each short story.

There is an imagined interview with Eva Braun on his intimate experiences with Adolf Hitler, a love story from the eyes of a Hungarian Cantor, a few stories from the eyes of Golem’s (A Golem was a Jewish ‘protector’ of sorts, called up in times of huge suffering) and several other pieces. The first two were the ones I found most interesting, yet all of the stories held some sort of interest to me. As a collection I can definitely pick my favourites and my least favourites, but I guarantee that each story has a moral, a message and leaves the reader with a feeling of something deep if not always pleasant.

As the writing goes, I found it quite inspiring. As a writer myself, if I find I want to write after reading a book or a short story it is a sign that I am enjoying myself but also because there is some sort of magic within the writing itself. In this case it is the rhythm and also the imagery evoked throughout. Like I said before, it is graphic and this is almost necessary to create a sense of the Holocaust, yet I did on occasion wonder if it was entirely appropriate given the subject matter but that is more personal opinion rather than the opinion of a reviewer.

I think the only thing that stopped me giving the book 5 out of 5 stars was that on some occasions the pace of the stories slowed and I became bored or they were a strain to work out as some pieces probably 3 at most were too out of my knowledge of the Holocaust to truly sink my teeth into. That suggests to me that readers who have no clue of the Holocaust or indeed the people involved, bar Hitler of course, would struggle.

However, overall I enjoyed this collection greatly and may even read some of the stories again. I would recommend this to historians and writers alike, and in fact I have, but I stress that this is not a book for the faint-hearted.


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