ELLA MINNOW PEA by Mark Dunn

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY Dunn, Mark. 2002. ELLA MINNOW PEA: A PROGRESSIVELY LIPOGRAMMATIC EPISTOLARY FABLE .  Ill. By Tim Brennan.  San Francisco, CA: MacAdam/Cage. ISBN 978-159692990.
PLOT SUMMARY
Ella lives on the fictional island of Nollop, home of Nevin Nollop the man who coined the pangram “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.”  The statue of Nollop, which sports his well known phrase is slowly dropping the letters.  The islanders can only communicate using the letters remaining on the statue, which makes for an interesting story, as letters continue to fall.  Told in epistles, the residents communicate in their isolated world, set apart from modern technology.
CRITICAL ANALYSIS
Laugh out loud funny at times, Dunn is uniquely creative.  As one who enjoys wordplay, this novel had me thinking, sorting words in my head, being creative in my spelling and communicating.  Underlying all the fun of the book, Mr. Dunn addresses authoritarianism and abuse of power.

A relatively short book, this can be devoured in a couple hours, but will leave lovers of wordplay, language and linguistics thinking and playing with the English language for days.  I found that towards the end of the book, it was a bit easier to read if done so aloud, due to fantastical use of letters and creative spelling.
REVIEW EXCERPTS
“A treasure of a novel. Dunn has an incredibly fascinating and clever way of using the English language, with or without all the letters of the alphabet. This witty satire and moving fable is a must-read for everyone who loves words… and free speech!” Susan Wasson, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM
“There’s the whiff of a classic about Ella Minnow Pea.” The Christian Science Monitor
“A love letter to alphabetarians and logomaniacs everywhere.” Myla Goldberg
“A curiously compelling…satire of human foibles, and a light-stepping commentary on censorship and totalitarianism.” The Philadelphia Inquirer
“This exceptional, zany book will quickly make you laugh.” Dallas Morning Herald
“Ella Minnow Pea is a witty fable, but it’s also a satire about censorship among other things….[T]he book should give us plenty to think about.” Detroit Free Press
“While this is one of the most intriguing books I have read, Ella Minnow Pea is above all very funny.  I’ve read it several times now and it never ceases to amuse.  I’m pleased to be writing about it and I think this book should be on the shelves of anyone interested in language.  I am certain that they will find it an unusual and fascinating read.”  Tom Cunliffe, A Common Reader blog
CONNECTIONS
IBID by Mark Dunn.  Told entirely in endnotes, I’ve not read this yet but have heard that is outdoes Dunns prior works in literary audacity.  Sounds like a winner to me.
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