This selection of Harry Mathews’s longer prose writings attests his innovative genius in sevenradically differing works:
Country Cooking in Central France is perhaps the longest, most demanding and surely the most extravagant recipe ever concocted. (Mathews’s best piece — The Guardian). Singular Pleasures: 61 pungent demonstrations of masturbation by both sexes, from Almaty to Zizanga. The Orchard is the author’s memorial of his close friend Georges Perec, composed in startlingly succinct and revealing glimpses. Armenian Papers, a sequence of prose poems that recounts a glittering epic of servitude, love and war in a land remote both in time and place. Translation and the Oulipo: the Case of Preserving Maltese, an essay that establishes with persuasive guile a context for the practices of the Oulipo or, Ouvroir de littérature potentielle (Workshop for potential literature), the provocative group of writers and mathematicians of which Mathews is the only active English-speaking member. The Way Home, a story derived from a series of drawings by Trevor Winkfield (incorporated here in the text) that! explores the dreamlike life within an ordinary man’s ordinary day. Autobiography, an exceptional example of the genre in which the author tells his own story entirely in terms of the people who have marked his life.
This is a revised edition of a collection first published in the UK in 1988 and not previously available in the USA. The London Times described the original collection as an almost pugnacious demonstration of his talents.
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