A review of
My Life in CIA
by Harry Mathews
Harry Mathews is an absurdist and the only American member of the French experimental literary organization OuLiPo. The bulk of his writing is obsessed with the logical pleasures of structured game play. He is bald. No more than four people alive today would mistake Mathews for a secret agent, but in the late 1960s, after a vacation in Laos to visit a friend who also happened to be a British diplomat, Mathews found himself the subject of a rumor linking him with the CIA. For many years, even his close Parisian friends were convinced Mathews was working undercover, despite his protests. Exasperated, Mathews decided to begin acting the part he’d been arbitrarily assigned, and this is where the central action of My Life in CIA, a novel disguised as a memoir disguised as a novel, takes root.
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