Alice in Plunderland by Steve McCaffery, illustrated by Clelia Scala

Alice in Plunderland by Steve McCaffery, illustrated by Clelia Scala

Literary Fiction
Publication Date: March 12, 2015
160 pages
8 x 5 inches
ISBN 9781771660891

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49th Shelf Most Anticipated Spring 2015 Fiction Selection

It’s been 150 years since Alice first entered Wonderland in Lewis Carroll’s beloved classic book. My, how times have changed! Now, from the multi-award-winning poet and scholar Steve McCaffery comes Alice in Plunderland, a reimagining of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books that will forever change the way readers negotiate Wonderland and its menagerie of characters.

Written as part of a larger project called Chiasmus, in which McCaffery will “queer the classics” Plunderland’s Alice and all her cohorts become infused with characteristics related to the notion of “plunder”—theft, drug addiction, looting, and civil disorder. Instilled with humour, intelligence, and more than a little bit of absurdity, this retelling of Alice’s adventures takes place somewhere other than expected. In the rough-and-tumble world of Plunderland, where theft, drugs, and gangs hold sway, and nary a tea party is to be found, the Cheshire Cat is a junkie from the UK; the King and Queen reign over the land of Cocaine; even Alice’s adventures are transformed in her quest for a fix.

Clelia Scala’s translated collages beautifully annotate McCaffery’s renewed vision of Wonderland. Just as McCaffery has plundered Carroll’s original text, Scala uses John Tenniel’s original and iconic artwork to create a new look for the world of Alice’s Plunderland.

As the result of McCaffery’s theory of “palindromic time” by which the past is contemporized and the present is historicized, fans of McCaffery’s work will find plenty of poetic marvel to sink their teeth into. In this, his first foray into prose-parody, McCaffery’s innovative poetics (in tandem with Scala’s provoking images) transform this classic story. Alice in Plunderland is sure to break open an exciting new initiative for fans of experimental writing and linguistics in the years to come.

Read an exclusive excerpt from Alice in Plunderland in the winter 2015 issue of Eleven Eleven Literary Journal

Press Coverage of Alice in Plunderland:

Alice in Plunderland explores the inner depths of an addict’s mind as Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) might experience it. Written to the same structure and tune of Carroll’s original 1865 story, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the reader is no longer left to ponder what Underland would be like through the eyes of a desperate junkie. And, as one might expect, following McCaffery’s version of Wonderland is as much of an undertaking and painstakingly difficult as any fiend’s attempt for an easy score when in dire need to use.” —James Bonner for Nomadic Press

Alice in Plunderland is akin to a breath of fresh air blown upon the Canadian literary landscape. A new, strong, exciting appearance! The book is a gift to the reader. Unwrap this gift page by page.” —John Riddell for

On Illustrating, With Clelia Scala —Open Book Toronto

Beautiful Books: The Journey to Plunderland  —All Lit Up

Alice in Plunderland —Collage Books, an initiative of Kolaj Magazine

Author of around 40 books of poetry and criticism published variously in Canada, England, and the United States, McCaffery was a founding member of the sound poetry ensemble The Four Horsemen (with bpNichol of TRG – The Toronto Research Group), and a founding theorist of Language Poetry. He has published three previous titles with BookThug: a revised second edition of Panopticon, The Basho Variations, and Every Way Oakly (homolinguistic translations of Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons), as well as editing the first Canadian edition of Stein’s book of that name. He is the two-time recipient of the Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writing, and was shortlisted twice for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. He lives and teaches in Buffalo, NY, where he is the David Gray Professor of Poetry and Letters at the State University at Buffalo.

A mask and puppet maker, sculptor and collage artist, Clelia Scala’s work has appeared on stages and in galleries, shops and television in Canada and the United States. Her work can be found in I Can Say Interpellation by Stephen Cain, also published by BookThug. She lives in St. Catharines, ON.