Monday, December 03, 2007

Emerging Anima/Soul

The Emerging Anima (soul) was painted in January of 2003 while I was living in Florence, Italy, on via della mosca 4, just a block from the Uffizi Gallery, Piazza della Signoria, and Palazzo Vecchio. This is a very busy painting, as you can see, full of life, a celebration of soul, you might say.

I was completing my first full year in Firenze. It was a very productive period. I wrote my fourth novel, Maria Novella as well as a fifth novel, The Reclaiming, during my first year's stay in Europe.

The Emerging Anima is. . . well, it is a rendering of my soul, of what was taking place in my inner world, new life or better yet, new lives were being birthed. A year earlier, I had turned my back to family and friends, walked away from my personal history/dream and set off in search of myself, the many cast aways that had been discarded along life's roadside while adapting to the conventional American standards that 'supposedly' defined what it meant to be a man, or better yet, what it meant to be human. Yes, having become disillusioned, I had finally found the courage to thumb my nose to the American Dream, the pursuit of material possessions and the proffered illusion of freedom. During this period, I was free to wander about without a plan, without labels, without all the 'have to's' and 'must do's' that had been loaded into my napsack over the years. I was no longer bound by an identity, tied to the patriarchal logically power-driven commercial standards. And during this unique period, I met Her . . .

Actually, I became reacquainted with many aspects of the feminine as you see their images emerging from this painting, but most importantly, I had finally earned the right to be graced with Her presence, the larger than life blonde woman who is emerging from the sea of the unknown with a flower before her mouth. For forty some years, I had searched for Her in the ephemeral world and it wasn't until I became lost to an image of myself and the many illusions that I once believed defined, fulfilled and sustained my existence. . . only then could I be introduced to my bride, my inner consort, the faithful one who all along has been right there within, silently bearing the brunt of my many infidelities as I turned the world upside down, searching for Her.

I often feel guilty, for having lived such a selfish life, for all of my vain and foolish pursuits. It has all been fueled by a vast emptiness, this wreckage left in my wake. Sure, mother and father, family, friends, lovers, and even my distorted images of religion and God have all failed me in many ways, as everyone is failed when the longing for one's desire is far more then human. No, this emptiness is beyond humanity's capacity to heal. And had I not been failed, I wouldn't experience the freedom to be living an authentic life today. Instead, I'd be stuck with the masses, in the Garden of Eden, blindly following and living a life void of authentic knowing.

When people ask what I do in life, most often I avoid telling them that I am a writer. My writing is harsh, it is crude, it cuts through layers of lies, the layers of lies that I was buried beneath for many years. I've had to write, I've had to expose these falsities, whether they were my own, familial, religious, cultural hand-me-downs, or the modern day zeitgeist. And I wouldn't go back and change that one bit. I wouldn't retract a single word that I've written, even after learning with the passing of time that my once expressed views and beliefs have been proven wrong. Writing, the recording of my work is simply my processes and I reserve the right to be wrong, make mistakes, and evolve as a human being. As harsh, exposing, and damaging as my work may seem at times, it is still about Her, it is about recovering what was/is rightfully mine, and if I must bear a burden of guilt for being true to self, then so be it. My life's calling, my writing, profane as it may seem at times, ultimately is about reclaiming soul.

Mel Mathews, is the author of several novels, including the Malcolm Clay Trilogy (Fisher King Press). His books are available from your local bookstore, a host of on-line booksellers, or you can order them directly from his website at:

© Mel Mathews - permission to reprint granted with a link back to

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Sacrificial Man

The Sacrificial Man, a painting by Mel Mathews, is the cover image of the novel Menopause Man. This is an image of a faceless man who has lost an identity, or better yet, all the identities that he once believed defined his masculine nature and his very existence. His entire life, up to this point, has been spent searching outside of himself in the ephemeral world, all vain attempts at an inner reconciliation.

Like Demeter, this man’s inner consort, his soul, in raging grief, digs Her heels in and says: “No more! You give me back what is dearest to my heart, you give me back the raped and ravished feminine, and only then will I put an end to the scorching of this dry barren wasteland.

Menopause Man is a story about a transformation that is taking place within a modern day primitive man, concerned only with himself, his insatiable desires. This is a story about the rebirthing of a man’s inner reality, but not without his ego clutching, clinging to those old dead idols whom he once served and who once served him.

This tale is about learning to see with the heart, learning that all that has been searched for over the years can only be found by seeing with the heart, not by falling prey to a various sundry of conventional dogmas that time and time again have failed him and left him lost, wandering about in those old barren deserts of dashed dreams.

Menopause Man is a story about the subordination of a primitive man’s ego and all the futile battles that are waged in an attempt to sustain his illusion of domination, as he slowly acquiesces to the feminine, as he reluctantly learns to bow to the Goddess, to the essence of his soul that is embedded at the very core of his being.

The 2nd book i
n the Malcolm Clay Trilogy, Menopause Man is available internationally from your local bookstore or from a host of online booksellers. You can learn more about the Malcolm Clay Trilogy and Mel Mathews right here on this blog and by visiting

The original rendering is on brown paper with acrylics.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

An absorbing and reflective saga...

An absorbing and reflective saga about how difficult yet ultimately rewarding it is to improve oneself. 

October 6, 2007 Midwest Book Review

The sequel to "LeRoi", Menopause Man is a novel starring a "quasi-rake" male protagonist Malcolm Clay, divorced, middle-aged, disdaining the religious heritage of his childhood, and generally self-absorbed... though sporting some significantly redeeming qualities. Harsh reality has stripped away his previous charmed fairytale life; he has spent fruitless years searching outside of himself amid an ephemeral world for internal reconciliation. Menopause Man is ultimately a novel of growth, and learning to evolve above being ruled by desires and how to let go of the false idols of meaningless money, indulgence, or sex without love. An absorbing and reflective saga about how difficult yet ultimately rewarding it is to improve oneself.

Mel Mathews, is the author of several novels, including the Malcolm Clay Trilogy (Fisher King Press). His books are available from your local bookstore, a host of on-line booksellers, or you can order them directly from his website at:

© Mel Mathews - permission to reprint granted with a link back to

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Flipped sides of the same coin - the Sacred and Profane...

While on the road not long ago, promoting my work down in the south, in the Bible Belt, I stopped in at a print shop to see about having a promotional page about the Malcolm Clay Trilogy printed. A middle aged black woman helped me. She was short, round, and seemed a bit grumpy, so I treated her in a quiet, respectful manner.

"When do you need these?" she asked, as if burdened with an overload of work.

"When can you have them?"

"Tomorrow after four," she tested.

"Tomorrow after four it is."

She phoned the next day at two-thirty. The order was ready, so I drove right over. I had a review copy of LeRoi with me, so I brought it along. After paying for the copy order, I asked, "Do you read much?"

She hesitated and then answered, "I like to read, but don’t have much opportunity because I work full time and take two classes a semester at the college."

"What are you studying?"

"Business, accounting. You know, I can't make the kind of money I need to make working at a place like this."

"Yeah, I suppose so, but you seem to be good at what you do," I answered and then handed her the review copy and suggested she check it out in her free time.

She graciously thanked me and we went our separate ways.

A couple of days later, I phoned her, wanting to know if she could print more copies, real quick this time.

"Sure, bring 'em in right away. They'll be done in thirty minutes."

"OK, I’ll be right there."

"And that book you gave me… I’m gonna tell you about that book!"

"What, you don’t like it?"

"That’s some good reading, but I don’t like it and I’m gonna tell you why when you get here!"

"Ho, ho, I had a feeling this was gonna happen!" I laughed.

"Yeah, you had a feelin' and now you’re gonna hear about it. Come on now!"

I showed up ten-minutes later, still a bit nervous, too. I’m a grown man and for the most part say what I please whether it offends others, or not. But something had me. I really liked this woman, but for some reason, I was afraid of her, too. There was this Great Mother quality about her, something that caused a piece of me to fear this dark goddess.

There she was, the Black Madonna standing at the counter, all puffed up and waiting to have a shot at me just as soon as I walked in.

"Alright, I'm here for my medicine," I nervously chuckled.

"You’re here for your medicine, huh? It’s about time! Boy, who wrote that book? Did you write that book?"

I shook my head, no, feeling just like some teenage boy who'd been caught spray-painting graffiti on the school's bathroom wall.

"You sure you didn’t write that book?" she asked.

Hell, she knew I wrote the book. My photo was on the back cover. "No, but I can pass a message on to the author, if you like." I suggested.

"You tell him that that's some good reading, but the profanity… he can't be using that kind of language. No sir…"

"Oh, come on now, it's not that bad…"

"Not that bad? Mister, I'm telling you, the F word… the most you should say in that book is damn," she squealed. A few people were now standing in line behind me, and a few others were just to my side waiting for their copy orders. In other words, the Great Mother had an audience.

I looked over to the onlookers with a sheepish grin, then back to the boss lady and said. "OK, so you want me to tell the author that you don’t like LeRoi because he uses too much profanity and the worst word he should use is damn. Is there anything else?"

"Now, I didn't say I don’t like the book. I told you, that's some damn good reading…"

"Damn good reading huh?"

"Look, you tell him that I'm a church-goin' woman and that all that profanity is just way too much."

"Well, maybe we need to publish a church-goin' woman’s edition of LeRoi," I quipped as a few members in the audience laughed out loud.

"Now you're talking! And the strongest word he can use is damn."

"Well, what should he put in place of all those other four letter words? Don't you think it'll take the life out of the book?"

"No, all he has to do is replace all that bleep-bleep language with those funny little symbols and squiggly lines."

"OK, I’ll tell him that all the bleep-bleep language has to be changed to those funny little symbols and squiggly lines. But do you really think church goin' women will read a book like that? I mean, they know what those funny little symbols and squiggly things are all about. The profanity is still there, even though it's hidden."

"You just tell him what I said. You tell him that a church-goin' woman says that all that bleep-bleep language needs to be changed to those funny little symbols and squiggly things."

"And then you’ll recommend LeRoi to your church goin' women friends?"

"Yes, sir, I most certainly will. I told you, it's some good readin'. I just don’t like all that bleep-bleep language."

"OK, I’ll pass the word along," I answered and then thought to ask, "Oh, by the way, how far did you read?"

"To the part where he had to tuck his tail and go back to ask the boss lady to rent him a room."

"So, you liked it enough that you finished the first chapter?"

"Oh, yeah. I told you..."

"That Malcolm Clay, he's an ornery buzzard, isn't he?" I grinned.

"Yeah, he most certainly is."

"He’s got a lot of learning to do, doesn't he?"

"Yeah, he certainly does. And I have a feeling that he learns everything the hard way, too."

"Yeah, you got a pretty good take on Malcolm…"

"Now, I've got to get back to work before I get in trouble around this place," she announced, looking up to wink at a co-worker who was standing behind a copy machine. "There, I got that one straightened out,” she proudly said, loud enough for her audience to hear. Once she had everyone's attention, she added, "I had to straighten that old man out this morning, now I got this fellow back on track, and I’d like to get one more before the day is done. I'm telling you, some of these people just don’t have a clue…"

Friday, September 14, 2007

For those who demand freedom as thier individual right!

Review by J.G. Moos
Published in The Florentine, 2006

True this book takes you on a physical journey from California to Ireland via Switzerland, Italy, and France. However, if a potential reader quickly glancing over the back cover thinks this will be run of the mill - travel log kind of entertainment - beware. The cover may give a hint to some that this is more like a journey 'to hell and back', but that's putting it lightly. SamSara is not only a page-turner, but provides valuable insights into a very small part of mankind, those who do not fear Freedom but instead demand it as their individual right.

I found this novel to be a very unique action thriller, which takes place in a micro cosmos of one single person: Malcolm Clay. He takes the longest and most convoluted journey anyone could imagine. Malcolm is in my eyes a hero taking the terrible risk of traveling the uncharted regions of his own psyche, deep down to vast regions of fear and pain but also of brilliant revelations full of light and hope.

SamSara portrays the struggles of a man searching for freedom from his puritanical upbringing and the existential traumas of his youth. Again and again, he comes up against dead-ends and frightening reminders of images from his past. His dream sequences are wonderfully portrayed. One in particular comes to mind, about tigers and how a number of these dangerous animals invade a house, and professionals are called to exterminate them. But instead of killing them, the tigers are tranquillized, and one realizes that the animals are symbolic of the sometimes overwhelming demons within us, energies that have to be subdued and sometimes even separated so that we can slowly develop a relationship and come to terms with these integral aspects of ourselves as opposed to denying their existence and continuing to suffer in a host of neurotic or even psychotic ways.

After the stage for this fine novel has been set, the pace really picks up: I had a hard time fumbling through the pages fast enough, and the ending really threw me. No, I won't even give you a hint. But, let me just say: It has nothing to do with the snake biting at its own tail - swallowing, perhaps, but certainly not biting! If I may quote some very clever personality whose name I have never known: 'The beginning is in the end.'

In my opinion, the very essence of SamSara is about the transformation of images, and Mel Mathews is quite masterful in the way he moves readers through this process, building to high points of interest and excitement, before letting off, allowing the reader time to relax and enjoy a more normal flow of life as these old ghost are slowly transformed into vital companions. I found it rewarding and enlightening to accompany Malcolm during his metamorphose from a person haunted by his past, yet willing to gamble not only his worldly goods, but even his soul, to become the individually decisive and free man he longs to be.
- Gustav Jack Moos - Kuesnacht, Zurich, Switzerland

The Malcolm Clay Trilogy by Mel Mathews is available from your local bookstore, a host of on-line booksellers, or directly from Fisher King Press - To learn more about Mel Mathews and Malcolm Clay visit

Monday, August 06, 2007

“Through the 21st Century Looking Glass”

USA Today, May 2nd, 2007 by Grady Harp

"Mel Mathews is a sensitive observer of the human condition, with an emphasis on the Male Human Condition of our time. He has created a character in Malcolm Clay that is a baby boomer Holden Caulfield, a variation on John Updike's Rabbit Angstrom, and he manages to take us by the hand and lead us through the bumpy terrain of current interpersonal relationships as well as anyone writing today.

"We first met Malcolm Clay in Mathew's first novel 'LeRoi' as a middle aged man trapped in a successful but boring occupation who becomes stranded in a dusty little truck stop where he is forced to slow his pace to adjust to the fertile characters he created there. Well, now Malcolm is living in Carmel, California, having been divorced, forgoing his childhood entrapping religious heritage, traipsing through many brief and physically oriented affairs while deciding to change his life as an alcoholic tractor salesman to that of a reformed AA writer ('..he didn't think anyone should be called an addict, alcoholic, codependent, or any other of the pathologized clinical diagnosis that propelled a person into another lie'). His existence is populated in this gorgeous coastline area of California by all manner of women and men whose connection to life is through tenuous strings tied to fairly shallow buoys. Most of the novel is conversational, with Malcolm discovering the intrinsic personality defects of characters ranging from his landlady Mrs. Shams to men on the make to physical therapist Jenny who manages to keep a physical distance between the lusty but controlled Malcolm and her fragile, purging diet, Zen-like self.

"What Malcolm discovers in this 'quasi- rake's progress' is his inner feminine 'who has been waiting for me to come for her so that she can breathe new life into me, animate me, and give me a new meaning.' Women 'never lied because of the devastating moral injustices it caused. Instead of lying, they just accidentally forgot to tell the important stuff'. All this is a journey so well written that the novel calls for pause to enjoy the sheer ebullience of the verbiage. Mel Mathews is a fine writer, finding his way through life in these times. He is a reliable companion on the trek we all are taking. And now on to the next volume in the series, 'SamSara', addictively!" By Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA) -

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

Mel Mathews' book reviews have been published in USA Today and many other notable publications. Mel is the author of several novels, including the Malcolm Clay Trilogy (Fisher King Press). His books are available from your local bookstore, a host of on-line booksellers, or you can order them directly from his website at:

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Le roi est mort, vive le roi!

The cover, Death of the King, a famous painting by the master Alvaro Cardona-Hine, along with the French title compelled me to take a look at LeRoi in a Zurich bookstore.

At first it read like a simple story of this rather ornery but ‘successful-in-life’ character stuck in the middle of nowhere in his fancy MG, which had allowed him to limp into a gas station with a diner-cum-motel on the other side of the highway.

I quickly realized that the simplicity was only skin deep, the writing a sort of self-analysis, the old mechanic and gas station owner a study in laissez-faire and cool disdain that tried the patience of our hero. As a matter of fact, all members of the cast including the Queen who rules the diner, the pretty waitress and the lanky fast-order cook are highly complicated human beings, which some may consider to be ‘virtual’ or a projection of the storyteller. The enigmatic and moody old Chevy half-ton pickup truck he borrows is unreliable, but does give him the freedom to get away from the confines of the motel and the frustration of his broken down MG.

Ol’ Reliable guides him over a cattle guard, a mysterious unseen gateway into a deeply felt sanctuary. He has found the oasis of a river that cuts through this otherwise barren wasteland where he can cast a fly into adventure and misadventure, and beyond that, healing waters for the soul. Could this perhaps be a modern day model of the Grail Legend’s Fisher King?

The depth of LeRoi is fascinating: it is full of magic, humor, but also suffering with seemingly inner battles taking place that must be won to grant new life. It seems our protagonist needs this type of catharsis to free himself from the burdens of the past and restore his inner kingdom to prosperity.

As I came to the end of this satisfying and easy to read tale of redemption, I wondered if the author’s future novels will be equally compelling sequels or completely different to the ‘tongue-in-cheek’ title of the novel LeRoi ? —J.G. Moos

Mel Mathews' books are available from your local bookstore, a host of on-line booksellers, or you can order them directly from his website at:

© Mel Mathews - permission to reprint granted with a link back to

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A journey of expanded awareness

"A journey of expanded awareness.", Dec 2006 - Midwest Book Review:

"The first in a series of seven novels by author Mel Mathews, LeRoi is a novel following the seemingly ordinary man Malcolm Clay, whose car breaks down and whose cell phone suddenly dies, stranding him by a garage and a diner. Malcolm has lived a seemingly successful life, but at what cost? An introspective allegory about the search for prosperity of the soul, a need that lingers despite fulfilling the needs of the body, LeRoi tracks its self-assured, at times sardonic, yet inwardly incomplete protagonist on a journey of expanded awareness. Also highly recommended are the sequels of Malcolm's adventures, "Menopause Man" and "SamSara"." -- Midwest Book Review

Mel is the author of several novels, including the Malcolm Clay Trilogy (Fisher King Press). His books are available from your local bookstore, a host of on-line booksellers, or you can order them directly from his website at:

© Mel Mathews - permission to reprint granted with a link back to