The most intriguing thing about Malcolm Clay was his battered MG. And now, with a cough of black smoke, even that had quit. Fortunately, the car had breath enough to limp up to the only two buildings in town: the garage and the diner across the street. Neither looked to have much reason to exist. No one was around. Maybe the mechanic was in the café getting a coffee. Maybe he’d had a heart attack from one strip of bacon too many. Maybe the place was an abandoned set left over from a bad remake of Our Town. “I’ve died,” Malcolm thought, “and purgatory is the back road to Pumpkinpatch.” There was nothing to do but wait since his cell phone had lost a signal about the same time the car had given up the ghost. He slumped back into the seat of the MG, then stood back up. “Well,” he said to himself as he headed towards the diner, “if I’m in hell, I might as well find a bag of marshmallows, a pack of hot dogs and a wire coat hanger.”
An introspective allegory about the search for prosperity of the soul, a need that lingers despite fulfilling the needs of the body, LeRoi tracks its self-assured, at times sardonic, yet inwardly incomplete protagonist on a journey of expanded awareness. Also highly recommended are the sequels of Malcolm’s adventures, Menopause Man and SamSara.
—Midwest Book Review
Mel Mathews steps into the foray of writing with a flair for vivid descriptive phrasing, a keen sense of character development which he wisely parcels out over the course of the entire novel, and a manner of writing conversation that is direct, terse, pungent, funny, and tender. He almost makes us think of Five Points as Camus’ No Exit . . .
—Grady Harp, Literary Aficionado
Ostensibly a novel, and not overtly psychological, LeRoi lays bare the psychic plight of a middle-aged man looking for meaning. It is a powerful kick at the American way of life . . .
—Daryl Sharp, Inner City Books
Malcolm Clay is the story of Everyman. He is every man who ventures into life and love. The every man who experiences the vicissitudes of the ecstasy yet fear and pain that life and love may bring. Mathews, brings to light the engaging energies of his novels protagonist, Malcolm Clay, both in his external happenings and also in the soul making substance of his inner on-going life. He allows us to hear the inner dialogue, to touch the feelings, to view life as if an X-ray vision of a man’s soul. In an appealing manner, a crisp and crusty narrative, we, as reader, also envision life and soul.”
—Nancy Qualls-Corbett, Author of
The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal Aspect of the Feminine
Le roi est mort, vive le roi! The striking 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. It was neither expensive nor voluminous. ‘Could most likely swallow it whole in the two hours on the train to Vevey,’ I thought, so I bought it on impulse and, as it turned out, wasn’t sorry.
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-analyses, 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 pick-up 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 Fisherking?
The depth of LeRoi is fascinating and frightening: it is full of magic, humor, but also inner suffering with terrible and seemingly perverted 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
About the Author
Mel Mathews is the author of ‘The Chronicles of a Wandering Soul,’ a series of novels that portray a modern man’s struggles as he goes against cultural and religious norms, and the grains of his upbringings, to emerge a renewed man guided by his own inner truth and hard-won wisdom.
Author: Mel Mathews
Paperback: 210 pages
Publisher: il piccolo editions (July 1, 2013)