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Description - The Journalist, The by Harry Mathews

As an aid to recovering from a nervous breakdown, the narrator of The Journalist begins to keep daily records of almost everything that goes on in his life, from how much he has spent on books and movies to what he eats. As the diary progresses, the narrator's entries become more and more detailed and increasingly bizarre, especially as he begins to devise elaborate classification systems for his unwieldy materials. Since these entries require more and more of his time, he begins to withdraw from family and friends, entering a world perfectly ordered, organized, and utterly weird.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781564781659
ISBN-10: 1564781658
Format: Paperback
(216mm x 140mm x 19mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Dalkey Archive Press
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
Publish Date: 1-Dec-1997
Country of Publication: United States

Book Reviews - The Journalist, The by Harry Mathews

US Kirkus Review » There are no safe places for the disintegrating self, not even the private journal; that is what the unnamed "journalist" discovers in this teasing, lightly involving novel from Mathews (Singular Pleasures, 1993, etc.). Middle-aged, middle-class, he lives in a college town in an unidentified country. He has an unglamorous office job, a loving wife (Daisy), an equally loving mistress (Colette), and a lovable if enigmatic son in high school (Gert). Daisy and his doctor, worried about his mental state, suggest he keep a journal, and he starts his new project with zest, seeing it as a "a hold on reality," a way of reconciling his two selves - the one that experiences life with the one that observes it. Soon enough, however, this journal, which he had envisioned as an instrument of control, turns into a tyrant that controls him. He becomes obsessed with the right way of classifying experience, and the margins sprout headings and subheadings like weeds. Meanwhile, his relationships are suffering. Daisy turns secretive, and his best friend, Paul, is avoiding him. Could they be having an affair? Why is Gert suddenly so friendly with Colette: More mischief? And why is there never enough time for his lonely task of keeping his journal and getting it right? He cuts back on sleep (his love life is already a thing of the past) and uses the office for his writing, until his boss forces him to take indefinite leave. "I've lost them," he acknowledges, referring to all the people in his life, just before his final dissolution and hospitalization, when a new narrative voice supplies rather too pat explanations for all the puzzles. Not as bleak as it sounds. Mathews chronicles his diarist's dilemma with humor and gentle irony; his slide into the abyss occasions more bemusement than terror. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Harry Mathews

Harry Mathews (born February 14, 1930) is an American author of various novels, volumes of poetry and short fiction, and essays. Harry Mathews was the first American chosen for membership in the French literary society known as the Oulipo, which is dedicated to exploring new possibilities in literature, in particular through the use of various constraints and algorithms. The late French writer Georges Perec, likewise a member, was a good friend, and the two translated some of each other's writings. Mathews considers many of his works to be Oulipian in nature, but even before he encountered the society he was working in a parallel direction. Mathews is currently married to the writer Marie Chaix and divides his time between Paris, Key West, and New York.

Books By Harry Mathews

Silences, or a Woman's Life by Harry Mathews
Paperback, January 2013
Laurels of Lake Constance by Harry Mathews
Paperback, August 2012
Blue of Noon by Harry Mathews
Paperback, June 2012
Case of the Persevering Maltese by Harry Mathews
Paperback, July 2003