Title: Un-Corrected Proof
Author: Louisiana Alba
Publisher: Elephant Ears Press
Date Published: 2008
Length: 305 Pages
Reviewer: Clayton Bye
Literary pundits have jumped out of their Ivory Towers to proclaim the greatness of a book called Un-Corrected Proof by Louisiana Alba. Some claim the book is a reworking of Homer’s Illiad and the tale of Achilles. Others declare that each of the 100 or so names listed under acknowledgements appear in some form in the book: a way of speaking, a style, a category, even an insight or two. No one denies he or she (Louisiana Alba is almost assuredly a pen name) purposefully breaks every literary rule that dares rise up in the path of this strange parody of the world of publishing.
On the surface, Un-Corrected Proof is just that: it’s a book yet to receive a final edit and proof read. There are enough glaring errors planted throughout the book that one intuitively knows they must be purposeful in nature.
Also found within the covers of this book is a tale of revenge. Archie Lees wants it known that award winner Martyrn Varginas stole his book, and he’ll cook up virtually any scheme to make this happen. In fact, he ends up accepting a surprise offer to work as an editor for the very company that published his stolen book. Using convoluted thinking and outright madness, Archie decides to pull his version of the book (much more political than what Varginas published) out of the slushpile and present it as the next big thing—under someone else’s name.
Now things get really crazy. The writer Archie’s company hires comes from a family of assassins, who are determined to return him to the family fold. Archie’s book, it would seem, is too much like true events in the top echelons of American politics to be allowed to be published. Result? His boss is kidnapped, political figures (some of who are assassins themselves) get involved, while Archie’s company appears to be more interested in drinking as much as is humanly possible and finding new sexual conquests than they are in actually publish anything. Oh, yes, we must not forget the murders.
Now, if Alba had stopped here (with what I’ve mentioned in the last two paragraphs), I would have been alright. You can see there’s a story to tell. But he/she doesn’t. Let me give you a few examples:
- Early in the book we are treated to stream of consciousness writing. You don’t have to like it but most of us have seen it before. Not Alba’s. He’s way over the top with respect to the actual thoughts we’re supposed to believe his character is having. People just don’t think that way!
- When the young writer’s family is introduced, the local jargon/slang/ makes it virtually impossible to understand the entire passage. What’s the point? Go ahead, deconstruct, but make the effort worth something. Don’t waste your time and mine.
- Then, when Archie is thinking over what he has done by inserting yet another user of his talent, he comes to an overall conclusion of his situation by using a one page mathematical formula to prove the rightness of his interpretation—never mind that the math is complete gibberish.
- Even the author inserts himself/herself into the story every now and then as an overt narrator. Again, the actions are unnecessary, in the way a child will jump up and down and holler “Look at what I’m doing.”
- Alba constantly changes scenes and conversations, using different writing styles or techniques, so that the only thing we can count on is the names of the characters, and the goals they have or the parts they play. By all means follow the characters and the story but never the style. It’s what Alba seems to expect.
Does Alba give us a worthwhile parody of the publishing business? I’d say most of the time, going even so far as to say there are places of brilliance in Un-Corrected Proof. The actual, physical, thumbing of the nose toward modern writing standards might have seemed a good idea at one point, but I believe it should never have been put before the public. Yes, I know we of the masses have been spoon fed far too long; on the other hand, there is always a tendency for the pendulum to overcorrect: Alba would have produced a better book using a lighter touch.
Un-Corrected Proof is for those of you who want a book to be mentally challenging. If you’re just after good entertainment, I’d skip this one.
Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye
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