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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Thanks for telling us about the problem. In the Future Perfect is a collection of short stories where words are juxtaposed in unusual patterns. My library Help Advanced Book Search. Even the threats the narrator receives are “veiled” and “muffled” while actions speak a bit more clearly than words, as his enemies then blow up his car and garage. Throughout the s, he wrote short stories that demonstrated a variety of unique writing formats. There are more words available with each chapter, but all the words in the world aren’t enough.

Alphabetical Africa is not an easy read. In Tanzania, transvestite Queen Quat is painting her country orange and declaring war on Zanzibar. The last chapter as well as several chapters before.

I’m sure that I’ll be reading it another time. But yes, there are many amusing and absurd incidents along the way, certainly a sufficient number to make the experiment a pleasure rather than a chore. There are conflicts galore in this Africa. Each chapter also begins with a word beginning with the letter-heading — so the 26th and 27th chapters both begin with words starting with the letter Z, for example.

Quantitatively speaking, the constrain writing limits the length of each chapter. C haracteristic African culture becomes apparent. An attempt will be remade in a few minutes. Killing becomes something usual and routine, again, the exposure of the secret continent.

Complete and utter nonsense. An extended gag, quite a bit less profound than it takes itself to be — and please, where is the “”hip”” novel that does not have its female protagonist opening her legs to anyone, any time, anywhere? Albert argumentatively answers at another apartment.

Alphabetical Africa

As far as form and limitation go, as far as precise execution, this book succeeds admirably; but it manages to not be as good as the works by Perec or Brooke-Rose or Queneau as it lacks the easygoing humor and playfulness of those authors – they somehow managed to incorporate rigid and unforgiving limitation into their works, and still managed to produce works of literature that could stand on their own.


In large part due the narrative limitations – of which I am in fact a bit in awe of – the prose and narrative never really gels, and some of the earlier and later chapters read more like alliterative word salad than propulsive narration, and can be appreciated for their formulation, but are not necessarily that enjoyable of a read.

In “Alphabetical Africa”, each word in Chapter 1 begins with the letter A. You’re used to the rhythms. Is Allen a play on Allan Quatermain? But, as long as I started to read the book out loud, I feel the content itself. Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

Alphabetical Africa – Walter Abish

And so on until Chapter “Z” where the words begin with any letter. Ages ago an archaeologist, Albert, alias Arthur, ably attended an archaic African armchair affair at Antibes, attracting attention as an archaeologist and atheist. The first chapter “C” is an excellent example: Reminds me of Ella Minnow Pea, which I enjoyed, but where the removal of letters from qlphabetical vocabulary was part of the plot, qbish it doesn’t seem to be for Alphabetical Africa.

In Chapter 2, every word begins with an A or a B. The writing is restricted by a pseudo- alliterative rule: Most of the characters in the book is not that necessary, except Alva, ok, Alex and Allen “survivied” till the end, they also can count.

The result is a politically invested but carefree tone that reminds me, in a different sphere, of Arlo Guthrie.

Two of the errors were “I”‘s found later in the book, alphaberical next to the margins, most likely overlooked during editing.


Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here New Directions Publishing- Fiction – pages. Although this was very clever, and surprisingly easily read once you add some B and C words, the tale was not the thing. Calling this word experiment a novel seems a bit dishonest to me. A very strange book and one that requires a lot of concentration from the reader.


Of course, the word “the” can only be used between the two chapter T’s a limitation Perec and his translator both wrestled with in “A Void” – though of course Perec did have the feminine singular form available. The English translation, A Voidwas true to its linguistic esprit.

V ocabularic efforts are very impressive, I’ll admit. Leo Robertson It’s a book I have a copy of- can post if you like: The thing about the book that struck me most was how dramatically the addition of a single letter affected the language while the opposite was not at all true when letters were taken away. No the and then and why and who and what for most of the novel.

Ready When You Are, C.B.: Alphabetical Africa by Walter Abish

Then, the process reverses, and the book works its way back through the alphabet, letter by l I dreamt of this book last night, though I didn’t dream of the plot.

Of course, once the book reached a certain point, once enough letters had been removed allhabetical dramatically affect the language that was left, each letter was greatly missed. I won’t explain what that constraint is here: They share romantic ties, work for and against various African powers, fight and sometimes die. Queen Quat figures prominently for a while — though the narrator finds, looking back over newspaper clippings, that “her name has been omitted” — a common fate for characters in this novel, one suspects.

I agree, as the narrative perspective, adding “I” helps a lot. U nfortuantely, Abish’s innovative style doesn’t make for an interesting read most of the time.

At least it is meant to be, but all sorts of other things come up as well while Alva proves particularly difficult to pin down. Hence, Chapter “K” begins: