Trevor reviews The Matter with Morris

Shadow Giller judge Trevor has reviewed David Bergen’s The Matter with Morris. Here are his opening paragraphs:

My second stop on this year’s Giller shortlist is David Bergen’s The Matter with Morris (2010). Bergen won the Giller in 2005 for The Time in Between, and he was shortlisted in 2008 for The Retreat. The other authors on this year’s shortlist are all first-time Giller finalists. None has ever been on the longlist, either. In fact, other than a short story collection here (Winter) or a book of poetry there (Skibsrud), the other finalists are new authors in the book publishing world. Bergen is the heavy-weight, the seasoned professional. Yet, without having read three of the five finalists, I suspect Bergen’s book to the be the weakest on the shortlist.

First things first: Bergen’s writing is not showy and it is fluid. Though a novel of abstract ideas, the writing remains clear. That’s a plus from my perspective. Bergen has honed his skill to the point where he is not in the way of his story. But the story is where the problem lies.

I’d say Trevor and I are in agreement on this one — my review is here.

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3 Responses to “Trevor reviews The Matter with Morris”

  1. Sheila O'Brien Says:

    very interesting review, Trevor!

  2. BuriedInPrint Says:

    I had a very different experience of reading this novel (from your experience and from Trevor’s), although I hadn’t expected to enjoy it at all: for me, Morris did come off the page.

    I found the idea credible, that so many of his connections had “fallen flat”, as you’ve said, given what difficulty he had finding meaning in pre-existing and new relationships after the death of his son. And I think it’s ironic that Morris, too, is lamenting the flaw you’ve identified in Bergen’s characterization: I think he’s feeling shallow and isn’t comfortable with it at all.

    I’m just starting Jane Urquhart’s Sanctuary Line, so I’ll be curious to see if, like you, I find it more enjoyable than The Matter with Morris.

  3. KevinfromCanada Says:

    BIP: Thanks — this novel obviously has some appeal that did not strike with either myself or Trevor or it never would have made the shortlist. Good luck with the Urquhart — I certainly believe that it belonged on the shortlist, but then I am an Urquhart fan.

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