An Illustrated Alphabet for the Illiterate

Many of you probably know that when Elizabeth Kurz was sixteen, she co-wrote and published a book with her father Rudolf entitled An Illustrated Alphabet for the Illiterate. What you may not know is that you can see a handful of pages on Google books.

In Alphabet, Elizabeth and Rudolf take alternating letters of the alphabet and provide short vignettes for each. As Rudolf puts it in the introduction, “The old voice is silly and nonsensical whereas the teenaged girl sounds brooding, mysterious and melancholy. I like this contrast very much!”

As do I. Here’s one of my favourite passages, from Elizabeth’s take on the letter F:

Forgotten: Every morning I was served two eggs, as was the custom in that place, until one day I noticed a crack in one and heard a noise coming from my plate. One of the eggs started to move and I stepped back from my chair in surprise. I turned away and bit my lip because I don’t handle the unexpected easily. When I looked again, both of the eggs were empty and then I heard the same noise, coming from outside. I ran to the window and confirmed that the noise was definitely coming from the sky, then I sat down again to finish my breakfast.

I suggest you check it out, and get a glimpse of Liz’s sixteen year old self. There are several sample pages to read, and if you’re intrigued, it’s still available on Amazon.

While snooping around to write this post, I also discovered some more of Rudolf Kurz’s illlustration work. There is an Indian riding a muzzled tyrannosaur in a parade, a woman in a conch-shell helmet riding a mutated crustacean, a fetal child parachuting into a half-Boschian–half-Seussian nightmare and more. It’s gloriously absurd and lavishly detailed—give it a look.

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