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The Alligators of Abraham

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  162 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Robert Kloss's The Alligators of Abraham is a fever dream built from the fly strewn corpses of armies, the megalomania of generals, the madness of widows, the fires of mourning, the fury of the poor, the indifference of the wealthy, and the ravenous hissing of those alligators who have ever plagued the shores of our national nightmares. With a cover design and interior ill ...more
Paperback, 214 pages
Published November 15th 2012 by Mud Luscious Press
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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Amber Sparks
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I promise you've never read anything like this strange, beautiful, bizarre novel before, and you never will again. Fathers and sons, a nation torn apart by war and slavery, a plague of alligators, and a mile long train of weak minds looking to take advantage of a weak nation. The subject matter is bloodied, battered gold, and nobody writes it quite like Kloss: a Baroque nightmare-scape of lush and loathesome pictures layered over the greatest tragedy in our nation's history. ...more
from publisher

Read 11/5/12 - 11/12/12
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended to fans of the unconventional / historical fiction but not really
Pgs: 214 (read on Kindle)
Publisher: Mud Luscious Press
Release Date: Nov 15, 2012

Beware readers. The Alligators of Abraham is not a book that is passively read. Written in the strangely comforting second person plural, Kloss sucks you into this novel, dragging you through the dead bodies that are left behind in this war, and our country's obsession with embalming EV
Edward Rathke
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary
It's a wild book and grotesquely beautiful, descended from the Faulknerian line rather than the Hemingway line of american prose, which is infinitely more interesting though rarer. And this book takes the best of Faulkner and McCarthy and couples that with Malick, of all people, and then pushes this aesthetic from the seeds of the Civil War through Reconstruction and on into the 20th century.

Full review at Word Riot.
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
I read this as a manuscript, and yes the author's a friend, but this novel is honestly like nothing else you've ever read, in the very best possible way. It's a dusty, grimy, white-hot fever dream of American history in which you can practically smell the buffalo, and it will break both your heart and your head. I swear it on Lincoln's beard. ...more
Michael Seidlinger
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
History tells of unexpected victories and cataclysmic tragedies. Other histories tell of high-action events and patriotic happenstance. The history contained within Robert Kloss's debut novel speaks of the history passed over, unsaid and neglected by the word-counting journalists looking for the next great byline.

This is highly textural, highly readable fiction. This novel is, quite simply, amazing.
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the strangest civil war novels I've ever seen. The strange prose drops the reader into something that's something part dream, part nightmare, and part madness. Skillfully crafted, it is comprehensible without being straightforwardly understandable. It rings true in the way that only something that has liberated itself from factual underpinnings can be. ...more
Kirk Marshall
I really can't recommend Robert Kloss's "The Alligators of Abraham" highly enough, a visionary work of contemporary experimental literary fiction composed entirely in a second-person present-tense multi-clausal prosody that demands, nay covets, a collective awe from readers & reptile enthusiasts alike. This is a brain-haunting début novel of a virtuosic power and a rarely-hinted linguistic audacity the likes of which will reconfigure your fact-shackled interpretation of the American Civil War, y ...more
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Equal parts refreshingly new and/or a one trick pony, this experimental novel about the history of the US is just long enough not to outstay its welcome. It does have the problem (if it can be considered a problem) that it is so deeply rooted in Americana that for people outside the US who are not anglophiles – and well-versed in the specifics of US history at that – this just might come off, on the one hand as uninteresting drivel that deals with topics that the rest of the world doesn’t give a ...more
Jul 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: strange-unusual
Unique take on war with very evocative imagery. When an infestation of alligators is the least strange thing going on you know you’re in for a wild ride. It reads like a strange fever dream. Seems like it might be a creative version of historical fiction.

It was simply too weird for me. I lost the plot and any sense of reality. I probably should’ve read a few reviews and summaries before I picked this one up. This requires close and attentive reading, I just wasn’t in the space to give that.

I m
Sheldon Compton
Oct 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review originally appeared at Heavy Feather Review -


Now a voice spoke low from the face of the deep.

Rarely before have I read a first sentence from a book that so adequately set the tone for everything to follow than this opening sentence from Robert Kloss’ Alligators of Abraham. Of course the great openings we’ve all come to know so well spring to mind, if I might so bold as to make the comparison. And who’s to say this one may not
Robert Enzenauer
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
WOW! I have to start this review with a simple WOW! I have NOT been shocked so much by a "war book" than 40 years ago when I first came across Dalton Trumbo's JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN! This is an incredible story about the American Civil War written in a way that is truly unique and hard to explain. I am no literary critic, but the "second person present-tense" makes for a very different read. He very graphically describes the true horrors of war. And the "pictures" that he creates with his prose in u ...more
Jan 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I'll start by saying that this book is not going to be for everyone. I liked it, and have continued to think about it days after I finished reading, but if you're not willing to follow a someone experimental narration style and suspend your disbelief, this probably is not going to work for you. However, if you are willing, you're in for a treat, and if you're a history lover, you'll be delighted by this combination of fact and imaginings. This book will have you questioning whatever it was you t ...more
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing. There's nothing else like it. The language is beautiful, haunting at times. The imagery is so vivid that the book often feels like a film. Such a book would be a testament to any writer's skills; I'm astounded that this is Mr. Kloss's first novel. It bodes well for his future, to say the least.

Read this if you like great literature, history, epic films, American folklore, or alligators. Especially alligators.
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fever dream of a book and an antidote for the romanticizing of the Civil War.
Dec 16, 2012 added it
Shelves: 2012
A sort of mirror text to half a century of American history, ripe with all the effluvia time has taken out, Alligators of Abraham is something else and something else again. Propulsive, disgusting, disturbed, and fascinating.
Ben Niespodziany
Feb 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book is forever walking forward. What a gruesome and epic American fever dream. I didn't plan on Wikipedia-ing Abraham Lincoln's family members this week but here we are. Hollow out your nearest alligator, climb inside, and get to reading. ...more
Mike Kelly
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
I couldn’t finish it.Style is annoying, book is boring. Only part I liked is when Mary Todd went wild on spring break. Would have given it 5 stars if the whole book followed her zany adventures.
Kevin Rodriguez
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Weird, boring, bad. Meaningless.
Mar 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I read Kloss' novels out of order, first chancing across The Revelator and having my mind thoroughly blown. I'd never read anyone like Kloss, and found his work biblical in its' grandeur and scope, gliding over days, minutes, centuries, paying little mind to temporal importance. But as I dived into Alligators I began to feel as though Kloss was a bit one-note. This was good stuff, but it was a lot of the same good stuff. There were the stories of fathers and sons, stories of the sins of our past ...more
Jennifer Spiegel
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
I picked up THE ALLIGATORS OF ABRAHAM mostly because of the talk. Lots of people kept saying things like, “You’ve never read anything like this!” They’d often preface such claims with “I promise.” So it was like this: “I promise you’ve never read anything like this!” Wha?

Well, I’m here to tell you that this is true. Robert Kloss wrote a highly original book, which I’m not even going to attempt to describe. I will say two things only about its specific contents.

1. Kloss is a mega-talented writer
Nov 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: experimental
Originally published on The Scrying Orb.

An experimental Civil War epic.

We begin in the dust of the valleys, in the long days and the sounds of your generations, digging and constructing and fighting, the hollow slapping of their fists against the meat of the men they beat into the dust. The stray dogs that lapped their spilled blood, while flies hummed and flickered along their mangy skins, their bulged ribs.

This book is about an aesthetic. A scent. Sounds. Blood and embalming fluid and the yell
Christopher Bundy
Dec 05, 2012 rated it liked it
"The president explained that the long rains floated alligators down rivers, through tall grasses and into towns. These alligators, grown fat from corpses mounded in rivers, their faces and eyes and snouts tangled with dead leaves and weeds, bulged and asleep along the banks, awake and sunning their mouths while overhead gulls swirled and shrieked."

Passages like this are one of the reasons I enjoyed this lyric look at the landscape of the Civil War, a natural blend of the mythical, the absurd, a
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"There was some boy, there, in the dust, and I could not help him, for we were enemies."

This book, in my mind, seemed as if it was written as sort of a Biblical Scripture. It was a Biblical writing of American history. I've personally never been a big fan of the Bible, but I can certainly dig the writing style. It worked very well in this context. For example:

'And your father was considered mad by many for the way he moaned in his sleep, and the way he anticipated enemies in all the shadows of t
Dec 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Barely 3 stars. If the book had ended after Book 1 it would have been 4+ stars for the incredible feverish, lyical prose that swept/dragged me through the brutality of men and the destruction of the civil war. Seriously, read this stuff out loud. But then the (magical realism?) alligators really show up and the main character's father loses it and we sweep through more modern history and...I just didn't care anymore. As everyone else says, it's definitely unlike anything I've ever read, but the ...more
M- S__
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is quite a ride. At times brilliant historical fiction. At times an interesting reflection on ptsd. At times nearly incomprehensible experimental lit. This book is loaded with energy, creepy, and hard to put down. The writing is beautiful. Landscapes are conjured out of single sentences. The use of second person is an inspired way to keep the reader invested in a story with this many arms reaching out. This is a story that makes up an alternate history and forces you to believe it. Pro ...more
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Like crawling inside a madman's head — a madman who knows that it is you and me who fought and continue to fight a great civil war. A civil war between north and south, the paid and the unpaid, icefields and the prairie, buffalo stampedes and alligator plagues, tradition and modernity, fathers and sons, life and death. In nightmare streams of incantation, oration, and recitations from a Bible you almost know, Kloss takes you on a journey down a stream of history — a current flowing with Mississi ...more
Kenny Mooney
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is quite a spectacular piece of work. A hallucinatory vision of US history, crammed into a single lifetime, and written in a style that resembles a kind of eulogy, a sermon. Kloss here seems to blend the American Civil War, with the coming of an alligator apocalypse and Biblical references, creating something altogether quite unlike anything I have read before. Remarkable dark poetry, and descriptions of madness, war, love, evil, that will sear themselves into your memory.
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Alligators of Abraham is unlike any book I've ever read. Kloss has amazing control over his language. This novel dives into the grotesque, the sick and heart-wrenching evil associated with a war over slavery. He makes putrefying bodies beautiful, because even when I was most disgusted, I could not tear my eyes from the page. This is a story about war and fathers and sons and power and madness and I highly recommend it. ...more
Luis Correa
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novella
The American Civil War as a biblical myth about mortality, national mania, and violence. Probably the closest a work of fiction could be to poetry without being called a "novel in verse." I don't think I totally grasped the semblance of a plot or its characters, but I was whisked away by the language and imagery. Fortunately, its compact package lends itself to a rereading. ...more
Scott K.
This book is unlike anything I have ever read before. I loved the writing style and the story. It took about a third of the book before I got used to Kloss' style, but once I did I loved it. It is part of what makes the book so compelling. I saw him do a reading from the book in Portsmouth, NH and it was amazing. ...more
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author of The Alligators of Abraham, The Revelator, and The Woman Who Lived Amongst the Cannibals.

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