Reviews


Review of Uncorrected Proof by Eckhard Gerdes

Journal of Experimental Fiction No. 39

Joy and a Plum


This book was finished when it was Finnished, printed and bound in Finland, bound for England, and bound to arouse curiosity on many levels.  Following in the footsteps of old Dublin Jim, Louisiana Alba draws from Homer the armature to build a novel upon.  Rather than the Odyssey, here it is the Iliad, but the characters are as recognizable as Molly Bloom was as Penelope:  Archie Lees?  Achilles.  Anthony Gamenman?  Agamemnon.  Menny Lowes?  Menelaus.  Ellen Spartan?  The face that launched a thousand novels.  Here, as in Homer, Ellen is a willing participant in her “rape” and runs off, in this case, to rather than with Paris.  What was really stolen here, however, is not just joy and a plum, not just one man’s babe, but rather, one’s man’s baby, Archie’s brainchild, his novel, stolen by Folio Publishing.  So Archie infiltrates Folio in order to subvert the publication plans.


The sections are written in a multitude of styles, the way old Dublin Jim recaps the history of literature by parodying, in the famous “Oxen of the Sun” chapter, the various styles of English prose preceding modernism.  Louisiana Alba includes the modern and postmodern and takes on Anthony Burgess, Albert Camus, Jay McInerney, Ernest Hemingway, Don DeLillo, and dozens of others, including old Dublin Jim himself.  The names of those parodied or homage appear in the acknowledgments.  Droogs, strangers, the mysterious second person, fish, and JFK all populate the background of the mise en scene, all to delightful effect.


Beneath this quixotic and playful novel that reveals a very deft hand at the pen is a significant novel that asks of itself the question that makes readers of lesser novels so often shake their heads: Does this work have any significance?  Here we must emphatically nod.  We are reminded exactly how enormous this artform can be, covering as it can any armature at all—from one repeated note to twelve-thousand pages of twelve-tone serial technique, from hastily slung handholdy storytelling to tangrammatically constructed transgressive metafictions.  The ultimate postmodern novel is, after all, the interface of everything.  And Alba points us there with joy and aplomb.

Winter 2010/2011

Eckhard Gerdes - editor of Journal of Experimental Fiction and author of Przewalski's Horse (2006, Red Hen Press),  My Landlady the Lobotomist (2008, Raw Dog Screaming Press) and The Unwelcome Guest (2010, Enigmatic Ink)

Review of Uncorrected Proof by Kristin Johannesson

"... the random cannibalization of all the styles of the past, the play of random stylistic allusion." Fredric Jameson.


‘Uncorrected Proof’ could be seen as a labyrinthically shaped many-dimensional map, pointing above and beyond itself by showing mirrored images of other places in literary time and space. And that's one reason why you do not feel trapped by the, also present, postmodern paranoia. In this book as in real life.


Painting pictures pointing beyond themselves out into a vast literary universe, you may feel lost in a labyrinth but it can, and for me does, feel like an opening, or a broad road, in it's freedom to play out and stay away from an apparent order of themes according to fit the forms in the styles of the past, and norms or ideas of originality and individuality.


The text stretches out of and becomes wider than the thickening plot, which is something I think can be inferred if employing multiple perspectives on the puzzle pieces presented - which, to use the map metaphor again, can be viewed from a distance at the same time as you are caught up in it/them.


In other words it does, in my opinion and to my appreciation, knit parodies and parallells into something in which it is possible to discern a pattern, in and through the somehow accented spy novel style, making the pictures and scenes full rather than fragmented in relation to the substratum one can sense somewhere in the heart of the text.


To try and concentrate my impressions in one sentence I would describe it as confusion in association with the flexibility of not being one and itself. I have personally become deeply involved in this hectic story, and though I have read it over and over from cover to cover I still do not feel I am done with it. I use the word hectic as at many points there is a bit of a stressful atmosphere with the characters and the ones who in parts in their turn play the characters, as with the authors from various times and places who file past. Others such as the fishing scenes and the pasta recipes are a bit of a break, through being a bit more worldly. Alba's work in itself is in my view an original one. To pick but a few illustrative quotes which echo my impressions when reading:


"It is not just a runaway relentless river of words following mental storms or

unauthorized brainwaves",


"Themes do not overflow story into labyrinths of uncertainty, ruthlessly

impoverishing if not demolishing, exactitude".


Who in the book in the end is the one or ones who has/have done wrong, if there is such a one in the story, is hard for a non-literary person like myself to express. As for picking the parodies, who has written what may not be the (only) point of interest. Hopefully. I for one am unable to identify most of the over a hundred authors said to figure in the text. To try and espy one final conclusion, a main paradox may be that the novel builds a lot on parody/pastisch as technique and in turn plagiarism as a theme, which could lead to some interesting questions on where the line can/should be drawn, for what kinds of creators, and what you have the right to do what with/with what.

June 2010

Kristin Johannesson, Uppsala, Sweden

Publish Or Die! Review of Uncorrected Proof by Paul Duran

Pacific Rim Review of Books

Who is Louisiana Alba and what does she (or he) have against the publishing industry? It’s a rhetorical question since most authors inevitably have some gripe against the media giants they are forced to rely upon to shepherd their creative works to the masses. Yet usually, besides the odd drunken cocktail party diatribe or expletive-laden rant to one’s spouse, authors won’t, or can’t afford to, bite the hand that feeds them. Alba on the other hand has decided to go straight for their throats, going public with the writer’s eternal screech – the bastards have    (add your own word here – ruined, stolen, fucked up, etc.) my book! – then framed it within a literary conceit so audacious and capricious, that to stumble just a little bit is to fall off the mountain completely.


It’s a high wire act that literally co-opts the style of dozens of literary untouchables and pop culture icons from James Joyce to Jimi Hendrix, Anthony Burgess to Andy Warhol, Ernest Hemingway to Quentin Tarantino (there are over a hundred authors and artists listed in the book’s acknowledgements starting with ABBA!). Alba (an obvious nom de plume) uses each successive voice in her vast arsenal to tell the story of Archie Lee, the plagiarized author who schemes to get his novel back from the people who stole it – the celebrity novelist Martyrn Varginas, his greedy publisher Menny Lowes, and his man-eater of an editor, Ellen Spartan.

       

Using The Iliad as a starting reference point (in a deliberate cracked mirror image to Joyce’s use of The Odyssey in Ulysses), the novel playfully winks at Homer not so much for his epic poem’s style as for its archetypal tale of love, abduction and revenge. The characters all are sly doppelgangers for their Greek counterparts; Archie Lee for Achilles; Ellen Spartan for Helen; Menny Lowes for Menelaus and so on. But the book does not rely solely on post-modern mimicry or clever homage to keep our interest. It more than holds it’s own as a thoroughly enjoyable pulp story about stolen manuscripts and deferred vengeance in the volatile, cutthroat world of publishing. Making publishing a life and death enterprise involving kidnapping, murder and the CIA is a nice conceit that no doubt will give even the crustiest of publishing execs a knowing chuckle.

       

The novel starts with Archie out to expose his literary theft at the Crocker Prize banquet (read Booker Prize). He gets cold feet when he comes face to face with his nemesis Varginas and Varginas’ attractive editor Ellen. She unexpectedly offers Archie a position at her new imprint when he stammers out that he’s “expert with espionage thrillers.” From there the story follows Archie’s desperate scheme to wreak revenge from inside the publishing mecca using his newfound influence to try to get his original novel into print under the name of an opportunistic young hustler he has hired for the part. Nothing goes according to plan as the novel ricochets from London to Barcelona to the South of France to New York and back; from pulp crime to spy thriller, memoir to meta-fiction, screenplay to redacted text.

       

It may sound like a daunting task for the narrative to constantly shape-shift from one disparate source to another but the effect is breathtakingly kaleidoscopic and in most cases wholly appropriate (even the few typos in the book seem correct given the title). In truth it would probably take a tenured literature professor with a vast music and DVD collection to decode all the stylistic shifts in Uncorrected Proof but that’s not really the point. Given all the literary byplay and conceptual ambition, the story is still amazingly accessible, so when you are able to pick up on a particular author or style, it just adds to its kicky pleasure.

 

In the end Uncorrected Proof is also a cautionary tale about ego and ambition run amok in a world where ego and ambition are the only character traits that seem to really matter. With no clear winners or losers it could almost be read as a twisted metaphor for our own troubled times, with the publishing industry standing in for Wall Street and the banks, where the “best and brightest” have had their way for too long and have grown fat on the bones of those crushed under their Gucci loafers and stiletto heels. Perhaps I’m reading too much into Alba’s remarkably varied prose, but the seeds of a revolution are there, if not on the economic front, then maybe just in the publishing house.


Fall/Winter 2009

Paul Duran, Pacific Rim Review of Books Fall/Winter 2009, Issue 12 - page 33

Paul Duran’s films include Flesh Suitcase and The Dogwalker.

A review of Uncorrected Proof by Angela Meyer LiteraryMinded


Can something be playfully and overtly postmodern and still be readable – driving you through a compelling plot? Louisiana Alba proves it can be done. Uncorrected Proof is a postmodern novel that entertainingly riffs on form, style, character, tense, person – but with an overall thriller/quest type plot appropriation, it folds you into its delicious bizarro metascapes and humorous oft-satirical, oft-homagical visions.


Somehow Alba (if that’s who she really is… death of the author etc.) incorporates stylistic elements of hard-boiled fiction, screenplays, cookbooks, metafiction, the spy novel, cyberpunk, the literary novel, A Clockwork Orange, Gaelic, intertextuality, memoir and so much more in a book that self-consciously satirises the entire book and publishing industry – authors, editors, publishers – literary celebrity, literary delusions, literary snobbery, literary stupidity and so on.


So what’s it ‘about’? Archie’s novel manuscript has been pilfered and plagiarized by Martyn Varginas, prolific mystery writer. Archie and his friend Cal plot a convoluted revenge through Archie getting work as an editor, and employing a re-plagiarisation of the book by a young hired-gun (or pen, as it were). What follows are kidnappings, political intrigues, sex, jaunts to New York and Paris (from London), Stake-outs, party crashings, a couple of book launches, boardroom drunkenness, author cameo appearances, mean streets, cop/spy banter, and a few disturbing murders.


I was completely absorbed in this book – somehow Alba makes it so easy to read, despite the switcheroos in style, and shifts in narrative drive and character motivation. The book’s title Uncorrected Proof displays irony – those not in bookselling or publishing may be unfamiliar with a ‘proof copy’ or ‘uncorrected proof’ – books that become available before release, oft-unedited versions of the final with spacing, grammatical and typing errors. This ‘published’ book, has a few (tongue-in-cheek) placed throughout.


Alba has worked in publishing, and is actually avoiding traditional distribution methods for the book, keeping in the uber-hip underground spirit of the novel – with a well-handled guerilla internet and out-of-hand distribution system. I came across the author through Facebook.


This book proves to me that extraordinary talent can be represented through shunning traditional publishing methods. This book is inventive, imaginative, and inspiring. It is a unique publication. If you enjoy Italo Calvino or John Fowles, or if you also work or have worked in the book industry, even on the fringes, you would get a great kick out of this novel.


November 2008

Angela Meyer - Literary Minded’s Blog

A novel by

Louisiana Alba

Uncorrected ProofUncorrectedProof.htmlUncorrectedProof.htmlshapeimage_3_link_0