Home » England » Sebastian Faulks » A Fool’s Alphabet

Sebastian Faulks: A Fool’s Alphabet

The Fool’s Alphabet is the trick alphabet which starts A is for ‘Orses, B for Mutton and so on. You have to have an English accent to do it. You can see the full alphabet in the Dorking chapter of this novel. Every novelist is, I suppose, entitled to one novel where he plays games. This is Faulks’ contribution. First of all, there are twenty-six chapters with, as their titles, twenty-six place names in alphabetical order (yes, even an X) (shades of Abish‘s Alphabetical Africa). Secondly, the chapters, while arranged alphabetically, are not arranged chronologically (shades of Cortázar‘s Rayuela (Hopscotch).) And that’s it.

Well, no, it isn’t quite it. There is a story. It is about Pietro Russell. He is the son of a British soldier, wounded at Anzio (the first chapter alphabetically and chronologically – good thing it wasn’t Monte Cassino), and the Italian woman who takes care of him when he is wounded. He (Pietro) becomes a photographer, falls in love a couple of times, gets married and has three children (like Faulks), travels the world (well, he has to, doesn’t he?, to get all those place names) and leads a fairly uneventful life. So what?

Publishing history

First published 1992 by Viking