Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn

Ella Minnow Pea
Mark Dunn

Back in 2007 I read Doug's review of Ella Minnow Pea and thought it sounded fun. I was right, and I thank Doug for pointing it out.

This little gem of a book will keep you reading from start to finish, probably without stopping. It's light hearted fun with a serious message as well, about authority and conformity.

In more detail, Ella Minnow Pea is an epistolic book - one written as a series of letters between the characters - about the island nation of Nollop, just off the eastern coast of he US. The citizens there owe a debt to Nevin Nollop, who created the sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." And you know what that's famous for, right?

In the main town (named Nollopton, naturally) a statue of Nevin Nollop and his famous sentence begins to drop letters on the ground, and as it does so, the governing council decrees that those letters may no longer be used. At all. Anywhere. Those who do are punished severely.

The inhabitants of Nollop are a literate bunch, but they suffer from normal, human foibles. Some support the new order while others oppose it. Some of those work against it quietly, others go out in a blaze of linguistic glory. The novel is entirely composed of their correspondence, and it gets progressively funnier as letters continue to be deleted from the language. By the end I was sounding out words out loud to figure out what was going on, and I loved it!

This book made me laugh out loud many times. I read it in just a few hours, on a day that I also spent time at the DMV, something we all love so much. It's sweet reading after the horror that was The Satanic Verses. I will hand it off to my wife next, and I have a couple of friends who need to read it as well. Maybe my mom too.

Read it if you can. Highly recommended!