The Journalist

Harry Mathews

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The Journalist

The Journalist A blend of postmodern metafiction and old style bedroom farce The Journalist explores the elusive sometimes illusive boundaries between facts and the fictions we weave around them The novel s prota

  • Title: The Journalist
  • Author: Harry Mathews
  • ISBN: 9781564781659
  • Page: 248
  • Format: Paperback
  • A blend of postmodern metafiction and old style bedroom farce, The Journalist explores the elusive, sometimes illusive, boundaries between facts and the fictions we weave around them The novel s protagonist, living at a time that might be the present in a city that might be anywhere, has decided for reasons of mental hygiene to keep a detailed record of his thoughts, wordA blend of postmodern metafiction and old style bedroom farce, The Journalist explores the elusive, sometimes illusive, boundaries between facts and the fictions we weave around them The novel s protagonist, living at a time that might be the present in a city that might be anywhere, has decided for reasons of mental hygiene to keep a detailed record of his thoughts, words, and deeds Very quickly, however, the project begins to absorb his entire life, as the increasingly meticulous recording of experience threatens to supplant experience itself To make matters worse, what he records offers its own grist for worry his devoted wife suddenly grows secretive, his equally devoted mistress turns evasive, his frustratingly independent son might or might not be visiting that same mistress behind his back, and his closest friend begins acting in mysterious ways and is it just his imagination, or is this friend having clandestine meetings with his wife His ever convoluted perceptions breed a dark muddle of suspicion, leading to a climax that is at once intensely funny and excruciatingly poignant.

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      Posted by:Harry Mathews
      Published :2019-02-19T07:52:21+00:00

    One thought on “The Journalist

    1. MJ Nicholls on said:

      I love difficult fiction, since even if I don’t understand the author’s particular intentions, I can pick and choose meanings like at some ontological deli. The trouble with some OuLiPo work, alas—and more broadly in the novels of Harry Mathews—is that his novel-length games pose specific problems and solve them in specific ways, often using egghead algorithms I am too dim to comprehend. As with Tlooth, I was entertained for the duration, but could have used a detailed roadmap. [This is [...]

    2. Eddie Watkins on said:

      I can not believe I just (2/20/12) heard this book reviewed on NPR! Though where the reviewer got the idea it is Mathew's least appreciated book I'll never know unless it's true what he said that even Mathew's himself says it was a failure because no one "got" it. Hey Harry I got it! In my way at least* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *So how is the main character of The Journalist reduced by book's end to a raving infantile lunatic? He gets the bright idea to write a journal chronicling every eve [...]

    3. Eugene on said:

      here’s a fantastic long interview with the great novelist harry mathews in it [an interview which now seems deleted from the interwebs] i learned a few things, some a little shocking. not so surprising: harry mathews loves robert walser. who can resist? some nice bits about cage, merce cunningham, and john ashbery too. but the sentence that hit home was that mathews perceives his 1994 masterpiece, THE JOURNALIST, a “flop.” HM: It was a total flop. HUO: Why? HM: I don’t know. I think it [...]

    4. M. Sarki on said:

      Certainly an inventive creation here by a very talented writer, but it will have no lasting quality for me that I think I will remember. I am purely rating this book as to how much I liked it and not how good and well-written it actually was. I simply "liked it" on terms, and sometimes that just has to be just about grand enough.

    5. Jim Elkins on said:

      The Idea of a Book So Strange It Teaches Your Reader a New LanguageI have decided to title all my reviews from now on, because I've found -- after 300 reviews -- that I tend to use books to open problems of writing. Each book tends to raises a different problem, so the titles are a way of keeping those in order.That first paragraph is written in emulation of the narrator in Mathews's book. He has recently had a nervous breakdown, and is heading for another. He decides to control his experiences [...]

    6. Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym) on said:

      This book is probably best defined as a sad meta farce. I found it increasingly unnerving in some ways because the obsessive manner in which the narrator seeks to chronicle and compartmentalize his days is all too familiar to me; probably to anyone living in this age of over sharing and constant account updating. The narrator's classification system for tracking his daily events isn't so different from how we filter our own modern lives, deciding what goes on Facebook, , Pinterest, a blog, etc. [...]

    7. Lucas on said:

      Wow. Why is Harry Mathews not better known? This is one of those books that me feel elated while reading it. It also made me feel feverish and a bit disoriented As the novel goes along, the narrator progresses deeper and deeper into a sort of insane lucidity that makes perfect sense while you're reading it, but which is without a doubt unhealthy. This book and its meditations on why we live, how we can do away with the superfluous parts of our life that take away from being involved in what we t [...]

    8. Haley on said:

      This is an interesting book. It's quite tedious to read but that's part of the point. A boring, middle class office worker slowly loses his grip on reality. Since the reader experiences his world through his journaling, he is well on his way into his breakdown before it's really noticeable. It shows just how quietly mental problems can grow until you are consumed by them and haven't realized what was happening.

    9. Terry Pitts on said:

      What is real? What constitutes living? The narrator of "The Journalist" is loosing his grasp of questions like these. On doctor's orders, he begins to keep a journal, which is the book that we are reading. But, just like his life, his journal keeping quickly spins out of control. He begins to categorize entries - initially "between 'fact' and speculation, between what is external and verifiable and what is subjective." But then he adds subcategories to his categories, carefully attempting to uni [...]

    10. Jason on said:

      The very recent passing of esteemed octogenarian writer, critic, and translator (not to mention essentially sole American member of the Oulipo vanguard) Harry Mathews lit a fire under my ass in terms of finally getting around to THE JOURNALIST, which has been sitting here amid many other books in my office nook, w/ my eye ever on it, for some time now. This is a postponed encounter, and a rich one, as I am personally convinced that this is not only the finest Mathews I have read, but indeed a Gr [...]

    11. Jessica on said:

      I really don't know what to say about this book. I don't think I fully understood the idea, or "game" as another reviewer referred to it. The story is told in journal form, by an unnamed narrator. He discusses everything from the trivialities of his day (what he wore, ate, how many sit-ups he did, etc.) to his feelings of alienation from his friends and family. As his journal writing increases in intensity, and as he obsesses over ways to categorize his thoughts, and daily activities, he becomes [...]

    12. Jim on said:

      A very strange book. Certainly worthwhile for those who, like the protagonist (and me) have at least a bit of the obsessive/compulsive about them. The narrator is not a journalist in the sense of one who writes for a newspaper or magazine, he is someone who has decided he must keep a journal. Actually, he works for a company that makes some kind of office furnishings (I think). Though the author is American, the book clearly takes place somewhere in Europe, most likely France. The narrator leads [...]

    13. Jason on said:

      The blurb about this (from the back cover) fails to convey the real atmosphere of the book; at best, it describes the first 50 to 100 pages. Much goes on behind the scenes in the journalist's life that we only glimpse momentarily towards the end. The other reviewer turns the character into an "unreliable narrator." A re-examination with this consideration in mind is probably worthwhile, but I never felt he was unreliable, merely personal to a flaw. The book is a journal, and as such, leaves much [...]

    14. Lori on said:

      This book is very post-modern and it has an unreliable narrator. Once you understand that,it makes it a lot easier to read and it is, in the end, once you figure out the journalist and by this Matthews means someone who is writing a journal not a professional writer--you will understand the book much better, and in the end, I think it is worth reading though difficult at first.

    15. Tami on said:

      this author can absolutely write. i especially liked the passages that narrated daily happenings. unfortunately for me (maybe not for anyone else), i didn't appreciate the passages that went off into the protagonist's OCD-like thoughts. i was expecting more madness and less OCD. my 2 stars reflect how i went into this with expectations that weren't met. but i would try this author again.

    16. David R. Godine on said:

      "I cannot express the extent of my admiration for Harry Mathews, which is well-nigh evangelical. There are now, here and there, other zephyrs blowing — Barth, Sontag, Barthelme, Pynchon — but none so strong as this."— Thomas Disch

    17. Tobias on said:

      Good stuff -- and the interesting structural choices do a fine job of echoing the narrator's own anxieties and fears regarding control.

    18. Erin on said:

      this made me feel sane. I don't quite know how I feel about this book yetI'm going to let it sink in a bit first.

    19. stew on said:

      A maddening reading experience from a maddeningly written book that writes itself out of nothing into something.

    20. Sonia on said:

      I think Harry Mathews is my favorite living writer. Every time I read him I want to be him for a week or two.

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