Walter Abish





Walter Abish

Author profile


born
in Vienna, Austria
December 04, 1931

gender
male

genre

influences


About this author

Walter Abish is an American author of experimental novels and short stories.

At a young age, his family fled from the Nazis, traveling first to Italy and Nice before settling in Shanghai from 1940 to 1949. In 1949, they moved to Israel, where Abish served in the army and developed an interest in writing. He moved to the United States in 1957 and became an American citizen in 1960. Since 1975, Abish has taught at several eastern universities and colleges. Abish received the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 1981 for his book How German Is It?. He has also received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship.

Abish's work shows both imaginative and experimental elements. In Alphabetical Africa, for instance, the first chapter consists en...more


Average rating: 3.78 · 568 ratings · 62 reviews · 10 distinct works · Similar authors
How German is It
3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 260 ratings — published 1980 — 8 editions
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Alphabetical Africa
3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 avg rating — 139 ratings — published 1974 — 3 editions
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Eclipse Fever
3.47 of 5 stars 3.47 avg rating — 49 ratings — published 1993 — 4 editions
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In the Future Perfect
3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 38 ratings — published 1977 — 3 editions
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99: The New Meaning
3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 20 ratings — published 1990 — 3 editions
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Minds Meet
3.76 of 5 stars 3.76 avg rating — 17 ratings
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Double Vision: A Self-Portrait
2.8 of 5 stars 2.80 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 2004
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Playboy: Helmut Newton
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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 31 ratings — published 2005 — 2 editions
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Conjunctions: 48, Faces of ...
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4.5 of 5 stars 4.50 avg rating — 8 ratings — published 2007
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Antologija američke kratke ...
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0.0 of 5 stars 0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings — published 1985
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More books by Walter Abish…

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“I lie and am lied to, but the result of my lie is mental leaps, memory, knowledge.”
Walter Abish, 99: The New Meaning

“Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex's admonition, against Allen's angry assertion: another African amusement... anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa's antipodal ant annexation.”
Walter Abish, Alphabetical Africa

“America fears the unshaven legs, the unshaven men's cheeks, the aroma of perspiration, and the limp prick. Above all it fears the limp prick.”
Walter Abish

Polls

Sometimes the first line of a book just grabs you by the nostrils and drags your fool head into its pages, preventing escape in any way, shape or form. Which of these opening lines has its phalanges most firmly planted in your nasal cavities?

"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
 
  463 votes, 5.9%

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
 
  398 votes, 5.1%

"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
 
  392 votes, 5.0%

"He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad."

Scaramouche by Raphael Sabatini
 
  378 votes, 4.8%

"It was a pleasure to burn."

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
 
  343 votes, 4.4%

"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
 
  323 votes, 4.1%

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
 
  300 votes, 3.8%

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien
 
  279 votes, 3.6%

"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York."

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
 
  250 votes, 3.2%

"All children, except one, grow up."

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
 
  224 votes, 2.9%

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
 
  223 votes, 2.8%

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

1984 by George Orwell
 
  211 votes, 2.7%

"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun."

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
 
  203 votes, 2.6%

Bah! Foolish poll-maker-person! The nostril seizing power of these paltry lines is minimal, at best! Look to the comments section where I shall carefully type out my choice, which you have so imprudently omitted!
 
  196 votes, 2.5%

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
 
  190 votes, 2.4%

"As Gregor Samsa awoke from a night of uneasy dreaming, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
 
  188 votes, 2.4%

"He— for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it— was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters."

Orlando by Virginia Woolf
 
  183 votes, 2.3%

"All this happened, more or less."

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
 
  180 votes, 2.3%

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins."

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
 
  178 votes, 2.3%

"It was the day my grandmother exploded."

The Crow Road by Iain Banks
 
  175 votes, 2.2%

“'To be born again,' sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, 'first you have to die.'”

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
 
  169 votes, 2.2%

"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife."

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
 
  166 votes, 2.1%

"Mother died today."

The Stranger by Albert Camus
 
  163 votes, 2.1%

"Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I've come to learn, is women."

Middle Passage by Charles Johnson
 
  156 votes, 2.0%

"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person."

Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler
 
  155 votes, 2.0%

"I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice - not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany."

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
 
  126 votes, 1.6%

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

Neuromancer by William Gibson
 
  124 votes, 1.6%

"I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man."

Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
 
  120 votes, 1.5%

"Call me Ishmael."

Moby Dick by Herman Melville
 
  102 votes, 1.3%

"No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were being scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water."

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
 
  99 votes, 1.3%

“'When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets,' Papa would say, 'she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing.'”

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
 
  95 votes, 1.2%

"The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new."

Murphy by Samuel Beckett
 
  94 votes, 1.2%

"There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie and Dim and we sat in the Korova milkbar trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening."

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
 
  91 votes, 1.2%

"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show."

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
 
  90 votes, 1.1%

"The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up."

The Napoleon of Notting Hill by G.K. Chesterton
 
  88 votes, 1.1%

"When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon."

The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley
 
  79 votes, 1.0%

"Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet, and so does Mindy Metalman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden."

The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace
 
  77 votes, 1.0%

"For a long time, I went to bed early."

Swann's Way by Marcel Proust
 
  74 votes, 0.9%

"Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex's admonition, against Allen's angry assertion: another African amusement . . . anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa's antipodal ant annexation."

Alphabetical Africa by Walter Abish
 
  62 votes, 0.8%

"When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere."

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
 
  60 votes, 0.8%

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

Paul Clifford by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton
 
  46 votes, 0.6%

"I have never begun a novel with more misgiving."

The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
 
  44 votes, 0.6%

"Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing."

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
 
  36 votes, 0.5%

"My lady and I are being shut up in a tower for seven years"

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
 
  36 votes, 0.5%

"The moment one learns English, complications set in."

Chromos by Felipe Alfau
 
  33 votes, 0.4%

"Of Herbert West, who was my friend in college and in after life, I can speak only with extreme terror."

Herbert West: Reanimator and Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
 
  31 votes, 0.4%

"Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature."

The Debut by Anita Brookner
 
  31 votes, 0.4%

"When I was three and Bailey was four, we had arrived in the musty little town, wearing tags on our wrists which instructed - 'To Whom It May Concern' - that we were Marguerite and Bailey Johnson Jr., from Long Beach, California, en route to Stamps, Arkansas, c/o Mrs. Annie Henderson."

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
 
  28 votes, 0.4%

"'Barabbas came to us by sea', the child Clara wrote in her delicate calligraphy."

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
 
  28 votes, 0.4%

"Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu."

Waiting by Ha Jin
 
  24 votes, 0.3%

"What if this young woman, who writes such bad poems, in competition with her husband, whose poems are equally bad, should stretch her remarkably long and well-made legs out before you, so that her skirt slips up to the tops of her stockings?"

Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things by Gilbert Sorrentino
 
  23 votes, 0.3%

218 comments
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