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Journal of Experimental Fiction No. 39, winter 2010 by Eckhard Gerdes

Uncorrected Proof by Louisiana Alba

London: ElephantEars, 2008. Pp. 305. Pb. $14.95.

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.

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, Uppsala, Sweden - June 2010

"... 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.

Notes from the diary of the reviewer’s work

raw thoughts which c(sh)ould be refined. the truth may be purer in this version than in the next. i'll go with the next one. The first copy I read was from the library. I saw some review, got curious, and made a suggestion for the library to buy it (which is my normal way of getting many of the books I read). I read this first, borrowed, copy of the book, among other contexts, while washing clothes and while watching clothes wash.


1: Excerpt Six; Inside the plot (UP, Acknowledgements)

2: Excerpt Four; Archie thinks it through (UP, p 65)

3: Excerpt Five; Alessandro gets on the case (UP, p 71)

4: Excerpt Three; Archie & Cal try to sort it out (UP, p 81)

5: Excerpt One; Ellen Spartan contemplates her fate (UP, p 86)

6: Excerpt Two; Chaos at Folio (UP, p 109)

And later, through X months' hard labour, resulting in the above, I won my own copy. Fair enough. And fair and square. "[I] found the order (or found the copy on Google Book Search :) Either way, [I] did it."

"Hi Kristin, the copy will be sent to you on Monday."

I re-read it when on a flight to New York. And back. I might not have concentrated as hard as I should. At this moment a clarinet played by a neighbour is mixed with birds singing through the open window mixed in turn with relatively silent electroacoustic music from my computer. The temperature is very/too high. And in addition coffee pipyng hoot out of the glede. I also made my own correspondences between style, theme and reading. For example, eating haggis when I read the part on scots. "And yer nae even scottish". I made the pasta in the recipes in the book when I read those. Following the instructions I did use olive oil. And then I didn't. (But to use another one of my jotted down quotes from the book "every author lies in every case", you shouldn't take my word(s) for this. As for haggis, I'm a vegetarian.) I have also been pondering on the author. One personal (but still quite unoriginal, I have read this opinion in other places) guess on the subject of the author Louisiana Alba, is that this is not a non-fictional character. But

I would not swear on that either. "Because I know nothing about this guy." But I am a "friend" of "his" on Facebook. Some other intriguing passages are for example the equations describing how the book (the book(s) in the book/the actual book) was written, the question "Is that Heidegger quoting Kundera or Kundera quoting Heidegger or Homer Simpson misquoting both?", and speaking of Homer; blurbs by Homer and Brontë, the pictures of authors on the cover, the thank yous to many more in the preface. The familiarity of them seem to cover and cushion some of the literary tumbles of the eponymous author, the implicit author, the fictional author and the reader.

As at the moment being involved in library and information science, I also at points in my reviewing progress saw parallels to knowledge organization and cataloging, as well as some kind of hyper- or at least intertextuality, in the alphabetical list of authors and artist in the preface, pictures of some of them quite neatly organised on the cover, and and as mentioned reminds me of a map - which a catalogue can

be as well, often concerning documents such as literature and often interesting in itself in what has been chosen for representing and how it is represented, making new stories out of, as well as new relations and associations, between older works. Some of the charm of this book lies in it waking curiosity and associations, and some of the challenge with the book lies in it making you want to solve some of its

riddles, such as where allusions are, to whom, and what this in turn might imply if interpreted "correctly."

The Paste Land

"Lou maintains you have look through the prism of Duchamp's Mona Lisa..the

mustache on the most famous woman in art..Everything is a comment, a value add

on, a parodic piece of fun, a slide off the original text into something else..built

inside text which itself is built inside text and so on..Foucault's comment in 'What is

an author', an author is only a collection of statements that have come before,

comes into play. Writers often play with borrowed stories (Shakespeare mercilessly

so)..Lou borrowed styles. T.S. Eliot borrowed from the whole of the literary world.

The Waste Land could be The Paste Land. (You are quite free to use our emails as well if you like - Uncorrected Proof is an open book published by an open press)"

- Geoff Berry... ElephantEars Press - e-mail correspondence June 2010


PUBLISH OR DIE! by Paul Duran

Pacific Rim Review of Books Fall/Winter 2009

Issue 12 - page 33

LA Film Director & Writer Paul Duran

Review of Uncorrected Proof by Louisiana Alba

Published by ElephantEars Press

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.

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

Comment on Uncorrected Proof from http://www.worldlingo.com/ma/enwiki/en/Uncorrected_proof http://www.worldlingo.com/ma/enwiki/en/Uncorrected_proof

Uncorrected Proof is the title novelist Louisiana Alba uses for his 2008 released novel, exploring themes of plagiarism and influence. The story is set in the publishing industry and following the conflicts and writing life of a writer whose novel is stolen by a celebrity author.

The uncorrected proof is the penultimate version of a literary work or book before final publication [1] [2]. An uncorrected proof is sometimes called a galley proof or an advance reading copy (ARC), and is used for book reviews, sent out by publishers to dedicated journals, newspaper and magazines. Many reviewers prefer, even insist on, seeing the uncorrected proof, not the final printed book.

Alba cites James Joyce’s parodic and myth-based technique in Ulysses by following Homer’s Iliad. But rather than follow the narrative poem itself as Joyce did with Homer’s Odyssey, Alba traces the prequel conditions in Greece before Helen’s flight with Paris to Troy parodying over one hundred modernist and postmodernist writers. Alba's stated aim is to enface a portrait of the artist as a postmodern, reversing Joyce’s attempt at self-effacement from the text of Ulysses.

The wider relevance Alba intended in his use of uncorrected proof in the title of his novel is rooted in his belief that a literary work is not 'bound in' by a cover. In Alba’s view a novel never begins or ends with an individual work, the boundaries of influence and interdependence always crossed, with sources shared consciously and subconsciously between literary works and writers’ imaginations.


  1. 1.^ MyFirstEditions.com

  2. 2.^ Independent Online Booksellers Association

  3. 3.