Ella Minnow Pea

Author: Mark Dunn

Type: Fiction, novel

Published: 2001

I read it: March 2013

ella minnow pea

This is an epistolary novel, as in made up of letters or letter writing. But not only those kinds of letters, it focuses heavily on the ABC-type as well. Parts of it evolve into a lipogram, which is a work made up only of words which avoid certain letters of the alphabet. The book revolves around a pangram (a sentence containing all 26 letters of the English alphabet), emblazoned but not immortalized onto a stone statue by an island community. When the letters fall from the statue, they are banned by the local High Council.

The book is a lovely, lighthearted read, but retains subtle warnings against the influence of religion and totalitarianism. It goes without saying that the book is perfect for language enthusiasts. And I cannot take credit for the definitions I gave above, for all are listed at the very start of the book so that every reader can join in on the fun of what the author is trying to do. A little on the nose as far as presentation? Yes, but the unique conceit is a lot of fun. Keep it in mind for a summer afternoon.

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