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:

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