A review of Tesserae by Mathias B Freese

Reviewed by Molly Martin

A Memoir of Two Summers
by Mathias B Freese
Paperback: 236 pages, February 15, 2016, ISBN-13: 978-1627873536


By definition a tesserae is a small block or piece of glass, pebbles, tile, bone, or other materials employed in the creation of a mosaic. Using this definition; the title of this book, Tesserae, indicates to the reader that a mosaic of vibrant narrative pieces will be conveyed to generate an interesting, perhaps uplifting, array.  I found myself becoming drawn into the work through a shared sense of nostalgia.  Freese carries the reader along from summers spent in Woodstock, into his life during the sixties, through to the current time. The 1963 political scene, black and white TV, skinny dipping, high school friends, an affair and the ending of that affair, the sixties and an awareness of the self, Woodstock summers, sharing difficult memories, musing over daily happenings, and at last musing from the period well beyond the sixties and coming to grips with everything in between leave the reader with an understanding of the ‘unconscious forces which human beings generally dismiss as so much climate change chatter and we really can’t get our minds around evolutionary psychology which, with monumental and ever growing scientific evidence, states that our genes rule us, that we are simply host bodies, that our genes mutate and struggle for what is best for their survival. ‘

Freese’s writing is charming. As each chapter focuses on a phase of Freese’s life: his memories and feelings concerning marriage, youth, aging, regret, and memory, Freese weaves a narrative rich in human frailty and humanity. His reflections regarding life, affection and the way we all change and become who we are now, may serve to motivate the reader toward exploring and perhaps setting down memories for themselves. Freese’s writing is distinctive and well-written with universal appeal. Tesserae is a work to be read and perhaps re-read, for the perceptions it offers into memory and the nature of the self.

Reviewed by: molly martin