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