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The Human Country [Paperback]

Harry Mathews

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Book Description

Sept. 1 2002 American Literature Series

Available For The First Time In One Volume, The Very Best Of Mathews's Short Fiction; This expertly designed original paperback presents a comprehensive collection of internationally renowned poet and novelist Harry Mathews' short prose. From the hilarious 'The Broadcast,' in which the narrator learns from a radio program that everything he needs in life should fit into one sock, to 'Calibration of Latitude,' which follows Sir Joseph Pernican on a meandering and seemingly aimless but deeply moving journey, this is a long-awaited addition to Mathew's beloved and masterful canon.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press; 1 edition (Sept. 1 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564783219
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564783219
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 16.3 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #802,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Acclaimed poet, novelist and essayist Mathews's idiosyncratic short fictions make up a literary labyrinth that takes readers off the beaten path. Mathews, the only American member of Oulipo, a French avant-garde literary movement that included Italo Calvino, Raymond Queneau, Georges Perec and Jacques Roubaud, takes advantage of the freedom of the short form to completely abandon such conventions as plot and linear narrative. When he does pick a theme or a concept, he often produces works of startling beauty, particularly in "Their Words, for You," an extended series revolving around a man's interlude with his lover. A wicked sense of humor informs "Broadcast," about a man who hears a radio program that reveals how everything in life can be contained in a single sock, only to have his ruminations about finding and preserving the broadcast reveal his status as a mental patient. The collection is divided into three sections, starting with Mathews's early works (which should be of special interest to fans), then moving on to a series of "stories to be read aloud." The book concludes with "Calibrations of Latitude," which features a strange, historically based story of the murky journey of Sir Joseph Pernican. Despite a few instances of reach exceeding grasp, Mathews's narrative voice remains intriguingly personal and audacious throughout, and readers who love innovative short fiction will find themselves challenged by the author's conceits and his offbeat conceptual approach.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Mathews (The Journalist) is a member of Oulipo, a literary movement that includes Raymond Queneau, Georges Perec, and Italo Calvino. Like the other practitioners of this style, Mathews uses his stories as an outlet for imagination, creatively playing with words and ideas and thus keeping his readers surprised and interested with every turn of the page. His newest collection is divided into three sections. The first section, "First Stories," consists of earlier writings that display Mathews's dry wit and subtle irony. "The American Experience: Stories To Be Read Aloud" then offers essaylike fiction that focuses on the role of the imagination in writing. The final section, "Calibrations of Latitude," includes newer works, which seem to focus on the role of chance and fate in human life. As with any experimental writing, some of the stories emphasize wordplay and cleverness over character and plot, but this collection contains many gems that demonstrate the power and potential of innovative fiction. Recommended for larger libraries.
Josh Cohen, Mid-Hudson Lib. Syst., Poughkeepsie, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unheralded (mostly) genius. Feb. 18 2008
By D. Croy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Matthews is an anachronism: he finds the beautiful by means of astounding discipline. He re-imagines what language can do by stripping it down into its mechanistic (almost) elements. And when he gets there, he finds something startling and amazing. Screw post-modern. This is pre-modern and all the more stunning and original for it. He will change the way you see and think, and I'm not exaggerating on that.

By the way, this is no Joycean academic wankery. These stories are readable and enjoyable. That they tear your head off, turn it upside down, and squish up all the goo inside is almost incidental to the sheer surface pleasure.
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