The new novel from Matthew McIntosh
David L. Ulin, 4Columns. Review >
Funny, highly inventive, and deeply moving, theMystery.doc is a vast, shape-shifting 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, classic 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. [ more ... ]
“Glued precariously together from the documentary fragments of a shattered culture and a fractured psyche, as with Eliot's The Waste Land, Matthew McIntosh's huge and riveting theMystery.doc stakes out its territory in the unbroken ground of a new and unsettling American century. Haunted the same way that contemporary life is haunted—by snapshots and forgotten emails; scraps of dialogue and movie stills—this brave and massively accomplished book is both a savage exorcism and a dazzling celebration of the novel and the human heart, each with their endless possibilities. A transfixing statement in a shimmering new language.”Alan Moore ◹, author of Jerusalem
“theMystery.doc may seem capacious but is actually sly, shy, and precise, and Matthew McIntosh is ambitious in the good sense: he attempts something new, with new vitality, and at that, absolutely succeeds.”Rachel Kushner, author of Telex from Cuba
“1653 pages or not, theMystery.doc is light on its feet, it moves at different paces and rhythms as its different narrative voices, photo sequences, blasts and showers of type dance up and down its pages. There are family stories, national and global stories, stories that use human language that don’t feel so human, there are pieces of finding one’s way and losing it. It’ll have been fourteen years since Well ◹ that theMystery.doc appears. One still hopes it won’t be fourteen years until Matthew McIntosh’s next one, though there is much here to carry one for a good, long time.”Rick Simonson, Elliott Bay Book Company ◹
“theMystery.doc plumbs life's absurdities and explores its heartbreak, playing with form and convention, teasing meaning and pathos from the unlikeliest places. I can think of no other novel that simultaneously pushes the boundaries and moves the soul like theMystery.doc. ”Ezra Goldstein, Community Bookstore
“theMystery.doc is an incredible experience. The story that Matthew is telling here feels like it couldn’t have been communicated any other way. It’s surprisingly intimate and personal. It felt like these could have been my memories, my photographs, my dreams and experiences. I found it deeply affecting and moving. I am grateful to be one of its early readers.”Robert Sindelar, Third Place Books ◹
“Wow. This is an incredibly ambitious work, amazingly complex and always intriguing. There were times throughout the novel where I was laughing out loud and others where I was on the verge of weeping. I can safely say I've never read anything like theMystery.doc”Keaton Patterson, Brazos Bookstore ◹
“A great delight to read ... poignant in its investigation of loss. The mystery at the heart of the book is nothing less than the mystery and magic of life and death.”Mark LaFramboise, Politics & Prose Bookstore
“theMystery.doc is my favorite kind of book, one that I simply hand to someone with urgency saying, ‘Read this.’ It's an indescribable wonder.”Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes Books
Matthew McIntosh is the author of the Los Angeles Times bestseller Well. He lives with his wife on the West Coast.