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Corning - Southeast Steuben County Library 1 FIC MCI New books
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Summary

Summary

Funny, highly inventive, and deeply moving, theMystery.doc is a vast, shapeshifting literary novel that reads like a page-turner. It's a comedy, a tragedy, a big book about America. It's unlike anything you've read before.

Rooted in the western United States in the decade post-9/11, the book follows a young writer and his wife as he attempts to write the follow-up to his first novel, searching for a form that will express the world as it has become, even as it continually shifts all around him. Pop-up ads, search results, web chats, snippets of conversation, lines of code, and film and television stills mix with alchemical manuscripts, classical works of literature--and the story of a man who wakes up one morning without any memory of who he is, his only clue a single blank document on his computer called themystery.doc. From text messages to The Divine Comedy , first love to artificial intelligence, the book explores what makes us human--the stories we tell, the memories we hold on to, the memories we lose--and the relationships that give our lives meaning.

Part love story, part memoir, part documentary, part existential whodunit, theMystery.doc is a modern epic about the quest to find something lasting in a world where everything--and everyone--is in danger of slipping away.


Author Notes

Matthew McIntosh is the author of the Los Angeles Times bestseller Well . He lives with his wife on the West Coast.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

McIntosh's second book (after Well) is 14 years in the making, an audacious, sprawling, messy, and aptly titled antinovel that rarely subscribes to a conventional narrative format. The volume is comprised largely of fragments of miscellaneous, seemingly arbitrary exchanges and entries from digital and analog sources, including emails and chats, voice and video recordings, photographs, film stills, lines of computer code, typographical symbols, and plenty of blank spaces. "Themystery.doc" is the title of a file that the (arguably) main character of the book, a man who wakes up with no recollection of his life or identity to discover that he's at work on a follow-up to his debut novel, finds on his computer. Mixed in are materials that appears nonfictional and undeniably factual biographical snippets from the author's life (such as an amateur snapshot of McIntosh's first book). In these portions, readers learn about the main character, his father's battle with brain cancer, and his process for writing what may or may not be the gigantic book they are reading. This is a strange and unclassifiable work, which brings to mind visually stimulating projects like Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves. It will certainly find a following among fans of literary puzzles. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

McIntosh's latest (after Well) is a hefty, ambitious foray into the frontier of the novel. The self-referential story is about a writer who wakes up to discover that he doesn't remember who he is, nor does he recognize his wife or neighbors. Wrapped around and through this premise are myriad, seemingly unrelated, sections, including documented real-life dialogs, instant message transcripts, 9/11 call logs, excerpts from Dante's Inferno, personal photos, movie stills, censored passages, and pages of symbols. As the book proceeds, the writer discovers unsavory details about his unknown self and his possible impending doom. This book succeeds in broadening the possibilities of fiction and blurring the boundaries of the form; the instant messaging passages in particular cleverly shed light upon this microcosm of communication. As with any risky venture, however, some elements are less successful than others; for instance, the photos have a minor impact compared to the more textual elements. VERDICT This work redefines the concept of the page-turner, exploring the field of uninterpreted meaning that gives power to the audience while requiring much more effort to parse, echoing Mark -Danielewski's creative use of text but with a more exploded narrative. Recommended for intrepid readers. [See Prepub Alert, 4/10/17.]-Henry Bankhead, San Rafael P.L., CA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

It was one of those plots where you wake up and you don't know who you are. You feel like you've been through the mill. Your head aches. Your ribs ache. Your arms ache. Your hands, your fingers. Everything aches. You know you did something--or somebody did something to you--but what that was now completely escapes you. You're awake. And it's like you're still coming out of a dream. And you wait a little while for the facts of the matter to settle in your mind. Who, what, where, when, why... You know, like everyone knows, that coming out of a dream can be a confusing time. Sometimes it takes a while for the dream to split off and fade away. You're in a familiar room but you don't recognize anything. The bed seems like it's your own but you think it's someone else's. Or you think you're somewhere other than you are. That's all perfectly normal. A transition from one state to another. Well, this dream splits, it breaks off, it fades, but nothing takes its place. Just the ache. And a girl at the closet stepping into a skirt, saying: "I'm super late, so I'm gonna drive, OK?" I couldn't see her well. She was just a blur. I groped around the bedside table for a pair of glasses that weren't there. So I lay back, watching the blurry form as it dressed. Tall girl, short stylish hair, platinum blonde, a good figure--that's about all I could tell. A small room. Modest. Curtains closed. A sound like an airplane going over. She zipped up her skirt in the back. "How are you feeling?" she said. "Sore." "I bet. Too much time on that ladder." She left the room. The old hardwood creaked beneath her feet. I heard her voice from the other room. "I had to change my number, remember? New one's on the counter." She came back in. "OK?" "OK." She sat down on the bed. Dark blurry face. Her light hair like a corona. "Why don't you take a break from scraping. You've still got a month of summer. Take the day off. Why don't you go back to your book? Do some writing. You get so grumpy when you're not working on it." "Yeah?" "Yeah. Maybe tonight I can read some more." She leaned forward and kissed me. Pretty face. Almond-shaped eyes. "Your glasses are in the bathroom. I borrowed them, sorry. There's coffee in the kitchen. And a smoothie in the fridge." "OK." "You all right, babe? You look kind of dazed." "Yeah, fine." Instinctively a person knows that if he wakes up in a strange place with a strange woman calling him babe he should just go along with things and pretend he's in control of the situation, that everything's fine. Things go wrong quickly when you share information with strangers who say they're your friends. "Did you hear the cat this morning?" she asked. "No." "It was howling something terrible. It sounded like it was in our back yard. Probably that fat orange one I always hiss at. I'm surprised you didn't hear it. It was pretty horrible. Sounded like it was being eaten by wolves. I hope it was. Well, I wish I could stay," she said, rising from the bed. "Remember when we first moved here we used to stay in bed all morning?" She sighed. "I miss those days." "Yeah. Me too." "I'm really sorry about last night. I think I must have been enchanted or something." "Yeah?" "Give me another chance tonight? All right?" "Sure." "Call me if you need anything. Don't call the old number, though. Remember, call the new one." The door closed. I heard her run down some steps and another door slammed shut. The car started up and backed down a long driveway. Excerpted from Themystery. Doc by Matthew McIntosh All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.


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