A review, and links to other information about and reviews of Alphabetical Africa by Walter Abish. Walter Abish has dovetailed his novel within a Procrustean scheme that has the terrifying and irrefutable logic of the alphabet. Alphabetical. “Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva, allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex’s admonition, against Allen’s angry.

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It is an example of a book that reveals a crucial criterion for constrained writing: As it turns out, Abish didn’t quite live up to his self-imposed constraint — see our list of Alphabetical Errata. By clicking on “Submit” you agree that you have read and agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. Walter Abish is not, and has never been, a member of Oulipoyet he made his debut as a novelist with this Oulipo-like work.

Sign up here to receive your FREE alerts. Alphabetical Africa First Edition Cover. First of all, I was surprised at how much sense Abish makes in the first chapter.

There are all sorts of shady characters, and above all there is the elusive Alva. While the “geoglyphic” African landscape forms and crumbles, it is, among other things, attacked by abieh army of driver ants, invaded by Zanzibar, painted orange by the transvestite Queen Quat of Tanzania, and becomes a hunting ground for a pair of murderous jewel thieves tracking down their nymphomaniac moll.

Most counts of these violations number them between four and six; however, up to 43 have been noted by astute readers. Albert argumentatively answers at another apa A peek on first paragraph: K eenly advancing, Abish accomplishes his experimentation goals admirably.

Joint description with post modern broken phrases, it feels africs watching a play with fast pace rhythm. First of all, I was surprised at how much I suppose any review of this book has to explain the unusual form. The complete review came across the following slips: Abish manages surprisingly well.


View all 4 comments. Abish had produced a curiosity; it is well crafted, and worth discovering, but it is only as good as its limitation, nothing more. You’re used to the rhythms. Maybe it’s like quick changes in the weather.

Alphabetical Africa

And even the constrains make sentence more beautiful. Create a free website or blog at WordPress. I don’t know if any readers have ever tried it, but it is a bit hard, like tongue twister alphabeticla. Reaching P2, I knew that Queen Quat would be gone.

Similar mistakes of spelling and grammar occur in other Abish works, such as How German Is Itwhere exact presentation is clearly a priority, and thus the mistakes come across as intentional.

Oeuvre is mentioned a lot of time, it also feels like a metafiction. The fact that he fails a few times is particularly worrisome — how could that happen?

Post modern way of creative writing, this way could inspire, but also, I feel my imagination is as well constrained. The principal expressive option here would be surrealism: Vocabulary book with a main idea, to be short. Germany grows greater while Gabon grows food to feed it in the hopes that Germany will produce another mind as great at Goethe was. Part of the pleasure is like that arica reading a rhymed poem, of knowing what must come at the end of the next alphabbetical, but there is more to it here, since it is a larger constraint.

Aug 04, Ethan Campbell rated it liked it. How sad, early on, when Abish notes: He also takes words from African dictionaries, listing them — but this too provides little additional insight. It was funny, engaging, and interesting. In the end, it seemed to me that this is a lighthearted spoof about American attitudes to Africa in the s, placed, for reasons I think the author himself never entirely analyzed, into the “terrifying and irrefutable” Procrustean frame of a linguistic game.


The story builds as the letters are added, following an author, a beautiful blonde and two criminals as they crisscross Africa, a continent that diminishes and erodes as the story goes on.

This is a curious book.

Alphabetical Africa – Walter Abish – Google Books

A major character introduced in the first Q chapter is named Queen Quat. After three or five letters, I forced myself to read the book out loud. Views Read Edit View history.

May 19, Jonny rated it did not like it. How is it that adding the letter T, for example, had such a powerful affect, but taking it away didn’t.


I have much to say regarding its interpretation. Whoever owned afrida before me had some meaningful passages highlighted, so there’s more going on in the book than a simple formal exercise.

Alphabetical Africa by Walter Abish is a language game which provides beauty and ugliness, story and non-story and make for a difficult read. They share romantic ties, work for and against various African powers, fight and sometimes die.

In “Alphabetical Africa”, each word in Chapter 1 begins with the letter A. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here He is untroubled about mentioning that his characters take acid: