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. Alphabetical Africa kept cropping up again and again, so here it is. In this novel, as you can probably tell from the first line quoted above, there.

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I won’t explain what that constraint is here: There is Africa’s land area shrinking fast by continental drift, mirroring the shrinking of words in the book. It is said that when Abish was notified of the errors, he reacted with total surprise.

The form and style of this book is really embedded in the shrinking Africa.

Alphabetical Africa – Walter Abish – Google Books

In “Alphabetical Africa”, each word in Chapter 1 begins with the letter A. It is written in the form of a novel.

Complete and utter nonsense. Africa is a mysterious place. I didn’t notice it when T or S or M left the scene, but by the letter H I felt the effect of alphabetiical new loss. But, as long as I started to read the book out loud, I feel the content itself.

Surely she’s going to get killed off before the end of the second Q chapter? Alphabetical AfricaWalter Abish’s delightful first novel, is an extraordinary linguistic tour de force, high comedy set in an imaginary dark continent that expands and contracts with ineluctable alphabeticaal, as one by one the author adds the letters of the alphabet to his book, and then subtracts them.



The 31st chapter the second “V”-chapter again no longer has any words beginning abbish the letters W, X, Y, or Z, for example. Despite occasionally wondering why anyone would bother trying, but being grateful that they did, I became curious about other novels with a limitation. Aug 04, Ethan Campbell rated it liked it. A bish adroitly actualizes Africa.

This book alphabeticao delight all logophiles and bore the alphabetical crap out of anybody else. May 19, Jonny rated it did not like it. Do writers hate it when other writers do formal tricks and exercises like this? Account Options Sign in. This is a curious book. Feb 04, Rise rated it it was amazing. Alphabetical Africa – US. The fact that he fails a few times is particularly worrisome — how could that happen? Refresh and try again. There are conflicts galore in this Africa.

The story was grasping.

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. Xenophobia should be a strong feeling while I expect from him to talk about in the X. My library Help Advanced Book Search. Alphabetical Africa by Walter Abish is a language game which provides beauty and ugliness, story and non-story and make for a difficult read.

It also worked well that Africa shrank with the vocabulary. Relatively few people can figure out how to link or contrast the constraint to the material story, subject matter, voice, mood.

In the latter half of the book, the letters of each chapter correspond with the last time words beginning with that letter can be used. The plot also is restricted by these limitations: Consider it advanced reading, for those of us who have made our way through the lower levels and are ready to face greater challenges. Sounds like a VERY curious africaa


There are more words available with each chapter, but all the words in the world aren’t enough. The first chapter “A” contains only words beginning with the letter A, the second “B” only words beginning with the letters A or B, all the way up to the 26th and 27th chapters both “Z”which can include words beginning with all letters of the alphabet. Arrica first O -chapter features a premature P in the penultimate paragraph: K eenly advancing, Abish accomplishes his experimentation goals admirably.

There are also other plots to the novel. If I could give it zero stars I would. Alphabetival book is hard to read, needless to say to read out loud. Zealous Yolanda, Xavier’s wanton, vicious uppercut tingling, squeezes royally Queen Philomena’s open, noisome mouth like kneading junket, is happy getting fucked even daily, casually, by Alfred.

H ard earned alphabets birth fresh characters ‘I’ finally enables chronicler’s appearance as a character himself. Words alone don’t suffice for any and all contemplation, words are a barrier to any and all expression.