Tesserae: A Memoir of Two Summers by Mathias B. Freese | Interview and Giveaway

12:30 AM


A Memoir of Two Summers

by Mathias B. Freese

Page Count: 236
Published: February 15, 2016

"The quiescence found in Tesserae: A Memoir of Two Summers has a staying effect upon the mind; this memoir lingers in the reader’s memory for some time."

– Steven Berndt, Professor of American Literature, College of Southern Nevada

In 1941 Citizen Kane premiered and the author was one year old. The snowglobe Rosebud weaves in and out of his memoir, cinema’s consummate symbol of attachment and separation, the classic dyad of the human being. And its precipitate -- loss.

This memoir discloses and reveals achingly so, often in astonishing and agonizing ways, one man’s travail. Freese is not satisfied to merely recall, to remember, but to metabolize what he has experienced throughout his seven decades. The furnace for his emergence into mature adulthood took place in the sixties, that irrepressible decade that changed America culture forever.

As a retired psychotherapist Freese knows that relationships between one human being with another is a critical human learning we master or we do not, for it facilitates our personally idiosyncratic journey through life.

Tesserae is not only a remembrance of things past but a reworking and critical recollection of experience and events Freese encountered in his late twenties.

The most telling – and compelling aspect – is his capacity to learn from struggle.

In the summers of ’68 and ’69 Freese lived in Woodstock, and his life was transformed. Tesserae richly explores how the counterculture kneaded him, how it enlarged his perspective, and how it encouraged him to be more open and express.

In his seventies now, Freese looks back not so much in regret but in knowing he had experienced that rare spiritual event, an awakening of intelligence. The reader now shares in his tested perceptions, his hard-earned observations about relationships; of how many of us go to our graves unknown to our selves.

Tesserae: A Memoir of Two Summers concludes on an existentialist note. A man who has faced considerable adversity in his life, Freese has prevailed.

Praise for Tesserae

“In reading Mathias Freese’s Tesserae, however, it becomes clear that this is no mere pastiche of other works; his memoir stands above much of the crowd in its commitment to ask, “What is it to remember? To recall, retrieve, reflect, to go back for a moment, to feel a period of time long since gone.” By posing these questions, Freese works within the answers by tenderly plaiting a web that spreads from Woodstock, Las Vegas, Long Island and North Carolina. The author locates friends and family, lovers now long since gone, desire and passion sometimes quenched sometimes unrequited, and the harrowing agony that comes from that most soul crushing word of all, regret.”

- Steven Berndt, M.A.  

An exclusive interview

with Mathias B. Freese

1. How did you decide to write Tesserae? 

Like all of my writing I wait until I hear the unconscious signal me to write. I am in the autumnal part of my life and apparently a memoir was in order, for I have lived long and have faced considerable adversity.  The common supposition is that a memoir is for posterity or for one’s children, but I really believe, in my case, it is a settling of accounts, of expressing resolved and unresolved issues and challenges. The past is in the present so I don’t dwell on regrets; I think memory is much more than that. It is my making peace with myself. 

I don’t feel, at least when it comes to writing, that we decide anything. A memoir just emerges. One truth I have chiseled out from my life is that no one is in charge of anything, much less themselves. We are just caroming billiard balls. Evolutionary psychology apparently supports my thesis, that we are just urns for our genes to do their business. It is hard for human beings to accept an indifferent universe – but it is a fact.

2. Can you tell us what kind of research went behind Tesserae? 

I tend not to seek out data, for many of my books are fiction; however, details are critical for characterization and for description of place. In Tesserae I relied upon memory and one or two books, especially Dan Wakefield’s New York in the Fifties which remarkably captures the period in which I was an adolescent. I googled the pop songs I heard, the soundtrack of the sixties, Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant, for one. And referenced movies such as Alice’s Restaurant, a prescient work and A Walk on the Moon. Memory brought forth details, for I was much the observer as a child and the world fell through my eyes.

3. How did you celebrate the first sale of the book? 

I was more celebratory when a carton of books was shipped to my home. The opening of the carton to my eyes was much like bringing home an infant from the hospital. Holding the new, crisp soft-covers was just enchanting.

4. Tell us about some of the biggest challenges or learning experiences you faced throughout the writing and publishing process. 

This question requires reams of pages. I will share pertinent observations. The editing process required three editors because I wanted their perspective on my effort; I wanted the book to be well-presented and free of errors; I wanted the chapters to be sequenced in terms of flow, interest and importance. I self-publish, an honorable tradition – Thoreau only sold 75 copies of Walden. Consequently the memoir is not amateurish but professionally polished as best as I can make it. The entire memoir is as carefully constructed as any of the sentences I worked hard on.

The memoir consisted of essays I had put on my blog. So I shuffled them into a kind of order. I left it to my editor to see the associative links between the essays. Now and then I was asked to add more or to elaborate further. I resisted at first, but then realizing it was to further the total good of the book, I wrote additional matter.

5. Tell us a bit about yourself as a character in your memoir, Tesserae. 

Katharine Hepburn wrote her memoir and titled it Me. The book is about my travail, my struggles, my stupidities, my character, my foolishness and obtuseness as a young man, my sensitivities, my passions, my immoderation, et al. One editor wrote that she found me to be an interesting man. I am also a remarkable man, but that is for me to know. I rarely say such in an interview.

6. Tell us something personal about you that your readers may be surprised to know. 

I am completely self-taught as a writer, did not do well in English as a high school student; I have remarkable drive which has led to five books in 10 years, and an abundance of awareness coming from my own psychotherapy and having practiced as a therapist for 20 years in private practice. I continually listen with the third ear when with my fellow man and woman.

7. What do you do when you are not writing or reading? 

I am a movie lover so I enjoy that and I have written about movies over the years. I collect prints and statuary, Art Nouveau and Art Deco my favorite periods; my favorite painting is in the Art Institute of Chicago, Seurat’s Pointillist masterpiece, La Grande Jatte.

8. What's next? 

The unconscious will push me to pad and pen and I will scribble again; I am getting intimations, dimly felt, that the next book will be one of short stories, perhaps writing about Holden Caulfield at age 75.

9. Lastly, any special thoughts for our readers?

Don’t listen to writers. Remember that generally advice sucks. Make your own way. Write and write. Trust your feelings and guts. Stay away from writing schools. Who taught Dickens, Thoreau, et al? Fearlessness makes for authenticity in writing. Be brave and courageous in your writing. All writing of a high order is self-taught. Break all the rules. Become your own autodidact. Believe not in the god delusion, but in the reality of the unconscious, your secret ally. Soon you will evanesce…have fun, friend.

Buy the book

About the author

MATHIAS B. FREESE is a writer, teacher and psychotherapist. 

His recent collection of essays, This Mobius Strip of Ifs, was the winner of the National Indie Excellence Book Award of 2012 in general non-fiction and a 2012 Global Ebook Award finalist.

His I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust was the winner of the Beverly Hills Book Awards, Reader’s Favorite Book Award, Finalist of the Indie Excellence Book Awards, and finalist at The Paris Book Festival and the Amsterdam Book Festival.


- Five winners. Two paperback AND three eBook copies of Tesserae: A Memoir of Two Summers by Mathias B. Freese to be won
- Ends 27th February 2016
- Open internationally!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You Might Also Like