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The Human Country: New and Collected Stories

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  74 ratings  ·  11 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 186 pages
Published September 1st 2002 by Dalkey Archive Press
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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 ·  74 ratings  ·  11 reviews

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MJ Nicholls
The other reviews here sum up my opinion on these stories—a few pearls mixed with opaque, impenetrable rocks written largely for Michael Silverblatt. ‘Country Cooking’ is a notable standout: a perfect spoof of haute cuisine recipes. ‘Clocking the World on Cue’ is an insanely clever piece of Oulipo showboating where each sentence clocks up the mathematical values of any roman numeral letters in sentences (i.e. m, x, i) so that each adds up to 2001. Mathews’s writing is extremely stylish and ...more
Nov 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: oulipo, literature
I keep reading everything I can find by Mathews b/c I'm very interested in OuLiPo & Mathews is the only OuLiPo writer whose 1st language is English. The writing's interesting to me.. but it's never QUITE done it for me.. UNTIL NOW! I generally prefer massive novels to short stories, I like the development, the complexity, but in Mathews' case, I find him to be such a 'master' of short story form that I can't help but luv it!

This bk's divided into 3 sections: "First Stories", "The American
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
harry mathews novel 'cigarettes' is a sort of wonder of structure: multiple moving pieces of plot, emotion, and character all work together to create a remarkable machine. this is kind of what OULIPO does. they create a mathematical set of rules to make a puzzle our a complex machine or whatever your preferred metaphor for this type of fiction is. sometimes it does not work. when it does not work you have a sort of coldly intellectual, and technically impressive piece of fiction that barely ...more
Oct 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Reading most of this book, stories from the only American member of Oulipo, is a little like trying to figure out riddles written in a language you've never seen before. Briefly, Oulipo is a French-founded international literary clique who work on writing based on verbal and numerical constraints. For example, Georges Perec's novel La Disparition (In English, "The Void")-- an entire novel written without the letter "e". Marcel Duchamps and Italo Calvino.

So, there are stories here, like "The
Jan 25, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Country Cooking in Central France is pure genius. Genius. I want to say the rest is smart. There are some clever tropes, but there is no sense that the opacity will ever give way to meaning. Maybe some people are into that. I'm not.
Brent Hayward
Aug 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Two or three wonderful stories that approach the heights of Mathew's great novels, but other stories that seem to be in-jokes or so opaque with cleverness that they are inpenetrable. A bit of a let down.
Dec 10, 2012 rated it liked it
There are not many writers who can write such beautiful skillful prose, and he is funny and effective in many of the stories, but in too many places the extreme intellectual structures poke through and ring hollow, and the cleverness of it all is sometimes just annoying.
Jun 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
A bit of a disappointment.
Peter Zuppardo
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Haven't finished this yet, so I'm cheating. I seem to keep reading the same pieces over and over.
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Din't judge Matthews based on this one collection. These shorts feel like exercises, warm-ups for the real work of the novel. Read "Cigarettes" first. Matthews' gift works best with longer books.
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
I thought I was becoming kind of a Mathews fan but I couldn't get into this stuff.
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Harry Mathews was an American author of various novels, volumes of poetry and short fiction, and essays.

Together with John Ashbery, James Schuyler, and Kenneth Koch, Mathews founded and edited the short-lived but influential literary journal Locus Solus (named after a novel by Raymond Roussel, one of Mathews's chief early influences) from 1961 to 1962.

Harry Mathews was the first American chosen