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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Take this paragraph from the first G chapter. However, on the way backwards through the alphabet, I very quickly noticed the restricted vocabulary.

The rules of its construction are alphabetical. Abish’s Africans also have clicking languages that can’t be reduced to the written word and thus remain outside his fiction.

Alphabetical Africa by Walter Abish

This book will delight all logophiles and bore the alphabetical crap out of anybody else. In Tanzania, transvestite Queen Quat is painting her country orange and declaring war on Zanzibar.

Jul 06, astried marked it as want-want-want. Email required Address never made public. While the alhpabetical African landscape forms and crumbles, it is, among other things, attacked by an 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.

So it is not clear how we are expected to attend to the alliterations. I agree, as the narrative perspective, adding “I” helps a atrica. In this way the prose expands and then contracts throughout the book.


Watler Me Through Fiction Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Suspect this guy is Abish’s son: Alphabetical Africa – UK. I didn’t notice it when T or S or M left the scene, but by the letter H I felt the effect of each new loss.

Michael J Ritchie General Fiction africaconstrained writingmonarchywalter abish Leave a comment. By clicking on “Submit” you agree that you have read and agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Calling this word experiment a novel seems a bit dishonest to me. Abish’s fascination with human communication led him to write works focused on the use of language. Rhythm is the best part. Although this was very clever, and surprisingly easily read once you add some B and C words, the tale was not the thing.

The book is playful enough to be fun, but it never stops screaming its serious intent. Are Boyd’s Congolese detectives effectively frisking grass abih in Jubba? Most counts of these violations number them between four and six; however, up to 43 have been noted by astute readers.


Join other followers. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Mar 15, Jeff rated it it was amazing. Do writers hate it when other writers do formal tricks and exercises like this? To the authorial I? C haracteristic African culture becomes apparent.


Oeuvre is mentioned a lot of time, it also feels like a metafiction. They are then scaled back again one-by-one over the next 26 chapters.

C ross continental chase after Alva carries author all around Africa. See 2 questions about Alphabetical Africa‚Ķ. A peek on first paragraph: Media reporter, reviewer, producer, guest booker, blogger. Albert argumentatively answers africz another apartment. Easier said than done, I know; perhaps that is why I’ve yet to come across a true masterpiece of constrained writing.

But it also gives a lot to the story. This continues for the first 25 chapters, until at last Abish is briefly allowed to write without constraint. Throughout — even as the book grows — there aalphabetical always the awareness that Africa is shrinking, vanishing.

Once the novel gets to Z, Abish begins removing letters until he has returned to a final chapter using only words that start with A again. I enjoyed this a great deal. And just afrca be clear about the argument I’m proposing: That connection can be a contrast irrational, surrealist, or satiric or a harmonious alpuabetical between constrained lives and rule-bound writing, between partly unknowable psychologies and partly private constraints, etc.

The taut early and late chapters are particularly good.