THE NEW TOURISM
by Harry Mathews
2010 / Second Printing, 2011
A Times Literary Supplement “Book of the Year.”
In Harry Mathews’s first collection of poetry in nearly 20 years, a legend of the American avant-garde unveils compelling anomalies including the prose sestina, didactic gastronomy, and a haiku sequence—a diary of discrete (if not so discreet) late-night improvisations on the familiar Japanese three-line form. The central section collects poems of terse lyricism devoted to the unpredictable deviations between intention and desire—the landscape of the new tourism.
Born in New York in 1930, Harry Mathews settled in Europe in 1952 and has since then lived in Spain, Germany, Italy, and (chiefly) France. When Mathews published his first poems in 1956, he was associated with the so-called New York School of poets, with three of whom (John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler) he founded the review Locus Solus in 1961. Through his friendship with Georges Perec, he became a member of the Oulipo in 1972. The author of six novels and several collections of poetry, his most recent publications are Sainte Catherine, a novella written in French (Éditions P.O.L, 2000), The Human Country: the Collected Short Stories (Dalkey Archive Press, 2002), The Case of the Persevering Maltese: Collected Essays (Dalkey Archive Press, 2003), Oulipo Compendium (co-edited with Alastair Brotchie; Atlas Press and Make Now Press, 2005), and My Life in CIA: A Chronicle of 1973 (Dalkey Archive Press, 2005).