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, 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 more convoluted perceptions breed a dark muddle of suspicion, leading to a climax that is at once intensely funny and excruciatingly poignant.
Filled with Mathew’s trademark combination of intelligence, unsettling humor, and masterful prose, The Journalist is an extraordinary addition to his uniquely stylish and inventive opus.
“A virtuoso turn” (Chicago Tribune) by the author of Cigarettes, Mathews has been called “one of the most remarkable prose stylists presently writing in English” by the San Francisco Chronicle, and this “sly, funny tour de force” (The New Yorker) further confirms his standing as one of our most inventive novelists.
“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