Thursday, May 31, 2012

Walter Abish | Alphabetical Africa

Walter Abish
Alphabetical Africa
New York City, USA: New Directions, 1974
168 pp.

The first chapter of this 'novel' consists entirely of words beginning with the letter A. The following chapter allows in words that begin with B, the third adds C, and continues until the 26th chapter, when all of the alphabet is available to the author. The second half of the book reverses this restriction so that by the 52nd and final chapter, the author may only employ words that begin with A again.

It's an incredible book, highly recommended for fans of Oulipo, Georges Perec or Christian Bok.

A list of instances in the book where the constraint is violated (premature or belated use of a letter) is available here.

Excerpts from the first three chapters are below.

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