In this posthumous novel by the avant-garde writer, a small town is intrigued by two male twins who do not associate with one another but share a lover, dress in similar clothes, and have other uncanny connections that inspire two couples to try to unravel the twins' secrets.
It is funny, perplexing, consistent and unusual, with all the characteristic Mathews obsessions. It may also be one of the best places to start enjoying his work ... In this and his other books, Mathews appreciates frauds and forgers, those who recognize the disconnect between who people are and who they pretend to be ... 'writing that cuddles up to the so-called truth but never pretends to be it'—a fine and memorable expression of the magic that happens when readers read good fiction, especially the good fiction of Mathews.
The Solitary Twin, released this month by New Directions, acts as coda to Mathews' idiosyncratic career — a short work that succeeds as both a career-end capstone and a final digression ... While this mystery surrounding the twins electrifies the book, the majority of this clever, protean novel is comprised of the stories told at dinner parties and meet-ups among new and old friends ... One cold eternal winter does not reign on a single page of Mathews' final novel because the stories continue, the digressions go on, and even though Mathews the man has passed away, Mathews the writer, the storyteller, continues — a now solitary twin.
...The Solitary Twin is the perfect endnote for Harry Mathews and a superb point of entry for new readers, encapsulating his lifelong commitment to formal invention while simply being an excellent novel in its own right, something anybody could pick up ... This is Mathews in a nutshell: constantly surprising, ever-revolutionary, subversive, and in perpetual search of possibility. His work is a reminder that everything in life can be conceived and experienced—but like John and Paul, the solitary twins, seldom in the same place at the same time. Above all, he was, like Geoffrey, proactive and insistent on two points in particular, namely that art is what exists between extremes. And that it is time to move on.