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Reviews + Analyses

Nov 7, 2008

ElephantEars Press, 9780955867606, 2008, UK (Aus, US)

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.

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9 thoughts on “Uncorrected Proof by Louisiana Alba

  1. Harvey Weinstein, M&Ms (MGMs or MFMs), SCB and the dreaded typo | Swimanog

    […] I wrote Uncorrected Proof, I thought – as it was a novel set in publish9ng, warts, bad behaviour, mistakes and all […]

  2. Another Voice for Nam Le « Swimanog

    […] Alba is the author of Uncorrected Proof, which I heart, so I asked if she would write something just for me (and you lit-lovers). Here […]

  3. LiteraryMinded

    Sometimes a word sounds right to me – and if it’s not already a word I decide it should be anyway. Homagical should be obvious in its meaning (I hope), and just now I googled it to see if it was in fact a word, and yes, it seems so (or at least others have also used it in the same fashion). But it’s strange the first website that comes up when you google it…

  4. celluloidtongue

    “Homagical.”

    I like that.

  5. Review from Literary Minded « Luminog

    […] Tagged creative writing, fiction, Publishing, Twenty-first century novel, writing Review of “Uncorrected Proof” a novel by Louisiana Alba […]