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The Matter With Morris
David Bergen
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The Matter With Morris

3.28 of 5 stars 3.28  ·  rating details  ·  313 ratings  ·  52 reviews
When Morris Schutt, a prominent newspaper columnist, surveys his life over the past year, he sees disaster everywhere. His son has just been killed in Afghanistan and his newspaper has put him on indefinite leave; his psychiatrist wife, Lucille, seems headed for the door; he is strongly attracted to Ursula, the wife of a dairy farmer from Minnesota; and his daughter appear ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published September 13th 2010)
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Steven Langdon
This book has been nominated for the Giller Prize for 2010. David Bergen has written a dark anti-war story, recounting the accelerating collapse of a father after his son is killed by a fellow soldier in Afghanistan. Gradually stripped of his defences, Morris finds some redemption in the basics of human life -- but only after a searing disintegration that breaks his marriage, destroys relations with one of his daughters (and separates him from his grandson,) pushes him into sexual but impotent c ...more
Morris is a popular columnist, syndicated, married to a shrink, separated, whose son has gone to war and is now dead. Morris undergoes further trials, mostly related to his guilt about having told his slothful, charming son to DO SOMETHING! JOIN THE ARMY! And so Martin does join up, and is sent to Iraq, and is accidentally killed by a fellow soldier while they are on patrol. For some reason I associate Morris with George Clooney. They look alike and George plays an excellent Morris as he withdra ...more
Darrell Reimer
Oh for a change of heart — a true change of heart! Herzog, Saul Bellow.

Everything [Morris] had rejected in his father turned out to be true or correct: the parsimony, the frugality, the strictures, the chastity, the faithfulness. His father had been maniacal about living honestly and with integrity. He had recycled before it was in vogue. He had tithed more than ten percent. He had sheltered the homeless and fed the poor. He was not wasteful or degenerate. Many of these things Morris had rejecte
Shonna Froebel
This is an intense look at a man struggling with grief and guilt and trying to find a reason behind what has happened and a way to move forward. Morris's son Martin had joined the army after an argument with Morris and has now been killed in Afghanistan. He was killed by one of the men in his own company in a sad accident. Morris feels responsible for Martin joining the army as Morris himself is a pacifist and was raised as one by his father, a Mennonite minister. Morris's father is failing in h ...more
Miz Moffatt
The Matter with Morris started with such intense promise—Morris Schutt, a prominent newspaper columnist, watches as his life unravels in the wake of his son's death overseas in Afghanistan. His suppressed grief cripples his column content and Morris is forced into an unspecified leave of absence (re: laid off). His marriage begins its slow decomposition at the same time he takes up a pen-pal (aka a dedicated American reader) who also recently lost her son in overseas warfare. What follows is an ...more
Aaron (Typographical Era)
What’s the matter with Morris Schutt? Absolutely nothing at all if you throw away the fact that his son died while on a routine patrol maneuver in Afghanistan, his marriage has all but fallen apart as a direct result, his high school age daughter is dating a college professor, his eldest daughter is forbidding him from seeing his young grandson Jake, and he was recently forced to take an extended leave of absence from his job.

Breathe in Morris, deep calming breaths.

Both the fictional Mr. Schutt
Literary Review The
David Bergen
The Matter with Morris

(Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2011)

I hate my grandfather. First I hated him when he was alive for hurting my mother— who I love—and then I hated him long after he was dead, when my grandmother died, when I realized how much her life had been troubled and defined by him.

My grandmother was the kind of woman it’s easy to miss, easy to grieve the loss of, even if you didn’t know her. She was the kind of person people mourn in theory just from the very facts of her li
Renown columnist Morris Schutt's life seems to be unravelling after the death of his son, Martin, in Afghanistan. Suffering the guilt of a father who feels he didn't do enough to discourage his boy from enlisting, he has stopped writing, separated from his wife, Lucille, and pulled away from the rest of his family. He pays for sex and carries on a long-distance liaison with a woman he's never met. Seeking a kind of demented independence, he stops visiting his therapist, cashes in his investments ...more
Welcome to the world of Morris Schutt, journalist (well I’d call him a columnist but he refers to himself as a journalist and who am I to argue?) Morris is a man who has recently been informed that his only son has been killed in Afghanistan, a man whose writing talent is now being called into question.

Although recently I have read numerous novels that deal with the horrors of war, and a number dealing with America’s post 11 September fear and even more questioning the validity of being involved
Sandi Altner
David Bergen's great strength in The Matter With Morris is in taking us into the most intimate thoughts of his main character. The access to the private life of Morris is almost voyeuristic. A car wreck we stretch our necks to gawk at. We can't turn away as we turn the pages to learn whether Morris will ever be able to come to terms with the many challenges in his life. He is intelligent, interesting, well read and enormously frustrating. Morris squanders his potential to succeed and doesn't hav ...more
Oct 23, 2010 Lorraine rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lorraine by: Giller Prize Finalist
If it's possible for a "coming of age" novel to have a 51 year old protaganist, this is the book. Morris is on a leave of absence from his job as a columnist because the death of his son (friendly fire in Afghanistan) has him unravelling. The book is about him further unravelling and trying to discover and reknit himself together. There are many references and quotations from philosophers (eg Cicero, Plato, Adorno, Tillich), as well as well-crafted biblical allusions.

Four stars for being good l
Well, this book was a bit of a slog to get through, to be honest. I read it in small doses because my mind kept wandering. If the book was bigger I might have considered abandoning it, but at 250 pages I wasn't going to let a little book get the best of me!

Often portraits of inner turmoil and grief are quite compelling, but I wasn't feeling that this time. There was nothing about Morris that made me want to get to know him better. Morris is a hard character to like. What was interesting to me wa
this seemed to be following in vein of the narrative voice of mordechai richler, robertson davies - though with a lucidity and lack of oddity present in these authors' work (and i think i enjoy the fifth estate and duddy kravitz precisely for those things). compelling nonetheless - i was drawn to this man's dissembling life; i understood his slow unravelling of his material existence; i cheered when those things began to right themselves so that he finally came out the other side of his grief a ...more
This is the story of a man's struggle to get over the death of his son in Afghanistan. The breakup of his marriage, his attempt to find solace by corresponding with another woman, his paying for a young prostitute who turned out to be son's girl friend - were all attributed to his grief. David Bergen is a good writer - his fluid prose moved the reader along to find out what's wrong with Morris. There were some touching passages, especially the final moment of reconciliation when Morris recognize ...more
Kathy Hiester
The Matter with Morris by David Bergen is about Morris Schutt, husband, father, and successful journalist, and how he is caught in a mid-life crisis that encompasses incredible anguish at the loss of his only son who was killed in Afghanistan. His marriage is incapable to withstand the loss, dissolves, and Morris becomes irrational. He seeks comfort in assorted affairs with women. He uses monetary expenditures to disguise his grief and his tumultuousness. Eventually Morris finds his way back to ...more
Joan B
I read this shortly after reading Martin Amis' "The Information" and I could not help but see similarities. In the Information, Richard's obsession was a result of jealousy and in this book, Morris was overcome with guilt and sorrow. Both both delved into the men's psyche and the resulting irrationality. In addition, both books had a character named Darko! Co-incidence? Hmmm.

I did not enjoy nor finish Bergen's "Time In Between" and was a bit concerned about this book. Bergen is far more readabl
Morris is facing the greatest crisis of his life with the death of this son in Afganistan. His guilt is overwhelming and he is lashing out at everyone around him. He is trying to find solace in the correspondence with an American woman who has also lost a son to war. He is looking for salvation not only with her but also in the books written by the great thinkers of time and his letters to those he thinks are responsible for his son's death. You can feel his pain and bewilderment in the simple s ...more
I can't argue with the greatness of the quality of the writing in this book, or with Bergen's pacing. There were some scenes that were heart wrenching, such as the scene in which Morris, the main character, learns that his son has been killed in Afghanistan.

However, I couldn't shake the feeling that this book had been done before. I thought it was good and a skillfully written book, but I felt that this book told a story that's been told many, many times.

I'd sort of like someone else to win on
Danielle Christopher
Just too much for my mama heart. A wee bit dry.
Buried In Print
This review was deleted following Amazon's purchase of GoodReads.

The review can still be viewed via LibraryThing, where my profile can be found here.

I'm also in the process of building a database at Booklikes, where I can be found here.

If you read/liked/clicked through to see this review here on GR, many thanks.
Maybe I'm too close to middle-aged angst myself, but I found this story difficult to read. It made me feel low and I wanted to escape the narrator's voice and thoughts. He was self-absorbed and wallowed about miserably. I was interested in his feelings about his son and his culpability re their relationship, but it was hard to cope with his ongoing unhappiness. I hurried to finish it and then breathed a sigh of relief.
Christmas booty!

To be reviewed. Rather curious coincidence that I read this book about a rather-well-to-do man coping with the loss of his son in Afghanistan at the same time as I read *Midnight Sweatlodge*, which was just 85 pages long, about people trying to cope with the loss of their whole culture, including the loss of their young people to suicide.
Far too many words at the expense of character development. I can certainly say my vocabulary was expanded through reading, and I was again happy to be reading a Canadian author, especially one that I have already read two other times. I don't believe this was David's best, but perhaps part of a group of works that tell more about the author and his beliefs.
There are times that I wish we could give 1/2 stars, because this was between 3 and 4... there were parts of the books that drug along slowly, but for the most part I really enjoyed it.
It was a bit of a sad book, but I was happy with decisions that Morris ended up making and outcomes in the book towards the end :)
This book is gripping--how would a parent survive the death of a child? There are clear and interesting references to so many Winnipeg Landmarks. This book is reminiscent of Carol Shields' Unless, but deals with a father -son sense of loss, not a mother-daughter separation. And here the child's death is final.
There are many things the matter with Morris, and the novel skillfully digs deeper with each scene to reveal the crux of Morris's problems and ultimately the solution. I loved the dichotomy of a pacifist father and son in the army that lead to a deep examination of heritage and heroics.
A sad story about a Winnipeg man going through depression after losing his son in Afghanistan. Morris questions himself and his motives for everything in his life, needing to talk, but not being able to speak freely to those that matter most to him.

Shortlisted for the Giller, 2010
This was a so so novel more so because of Morris's deep feelings of guilt that seemed to overtake his life and the novel. Bergen is a great writer and the plot is an important issue to explore but I'm tired about reading men who can't seem to cope with life's travails.
It tells the story of one father's grief over the death in Afghanistan of his 20-year-old son. Morris also feels guilt that he may have goaded his son into joining the Canadian army in the first place. Enjoyed it - realistic and very touching..
Easy read...finished it in three days. Story of Morris' life after loosing his son in Afganistan. It was definitely a page turner for me as everytime I hear of a child passing away, my thoughts are does a parent survive this?
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Born in Port Edward, British Columbia, author David Bergen worked as a writer and high school English teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba, before gaining a great deal of recognition in Canada when his novel The Time In Between won the 2005 Scotiabank Giller Prize, one of Canada's most prestigious literary awards. The novel also received a starred review in Kirkus Reviews and was longlisted for the 2007 ...more
More about David Bergen...
The Time In Between The Age of Hope The Retreat The Case of Lena S Leaving Tomorrow

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“Morris had been raised a Mennonite stoic in a tribe that wasn't a tribe at all, but more a failed cult whose main sources of entertainment were music, wordplay, and suffering.” 1 likes
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