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Ella Minnow Pea

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  15,825 ratings  ·  3,107 reviews

Ella Minnow Pea is an epistolary novel set in the fictional island of Nollop situated off the coast of South Carolina and home to the inventor of the pangram The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog. Now deceased, the islanders have erected a monument to honor their hero, but one day a tile with the letter “z” falls from the statue. The leaders interpret the falling til

Hardcover, 205 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by MacAdam/Cage
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Community Reviews

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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4.9* of five

This novel is about the unintended bad, and ridiculous, consequences of a very good idea. Nollop, an island off the American mainland, is a society rational and reasonable in its organization and actions. Its usage of the English language rests on the existence of the pangram, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." The founder of Nollop invested the pangram with great significance.

And now, in Ella's time, the letters of the pangram start falling off the founder's stat
Clever + Silly = waste of time and paper.

A ridiculous book, masquerading as something intelligent and thought provoking. There are plenty of far better books that raise issues of totalitarianism, censorship versus free speech, superstition versus science, loyalty to friends and family versus loyalty to the state, the power of language etc in more enlightening, entertaining and less gimmicky ways. I realise my opinion is very much a minority one, so perhaps I'm overanalysing and taking it too ser
Original Review

Georges Perec wrote a novel without using the letter "e" even once. Dunn works a similar gimmick by writing this epistolary novel about an island that bans the use of certain letters as these drop off, one by one, from the statute of the creator of the phrase, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."

"Z" is the first to go, then "Q", then "J". Things get really difficult, however, when "D" falls off. Speech, indeed communication of any kind, gets increasingly difficult as th
I found this book at the Wilderness Library and very nearly didn't buy it. Just looking at the title, the words didn't exactly compute and I thought, "hmmm, this book seems kind of silly." Then I read "A Novel in Letters" and my shameless snoop side came out. I love, love, love reading books that are comprised of letters, I feel like I'm really snooping in someone's mail or diaries, and it makes it so interesting. So I picked up Ella and on my way to the car, said the title out loud and the ligh ...more
Ella Minnow Pea is a girl who lives on a small island off the coast of South Carolina. This nation state, named Nollop after its founder, seems idyllic. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, tiles begin to tumble from Nollop's monument, and the Council interprets these as (pardon the pun) letters from heaven. But the island paradise soon degenerates into a totalitarian regime as hellish as anything conceived by George Orwell.

This, as other reviewers have noted, is a parable about the exercise of hum
This book has been on my “to read” list for a long time. It sounded interesting: a book in which the characters revere language and the alphabet, and when letters fall from the statue that celebrates their culture, they are also dropped from the novel.

I’m pleased to report, first of all, that this book is wholesome, despite being on the national market and not just the LDS one (so many books I’ve picked up this year I’ve had to return to the library, unread).

And this book is good to boot. It’s l
MJ Nicholls
An inventive epistolary and lipogrammatic novel mixing the prisoner’s constraint, pangrams, and neologisms to form an Oulipian feast. Perhaps a little Oulipo-lite? Perhaps. But the prose is impressive and despite the partial cheat towards the end (using phonetic sounds for words) the lipogram is successful and the plot something of a statement about censorship and the privilege we have in the West to use our language to express whatever we wish (and abuse this on a word-by-word basis). As someon ...more
I loved this perky, word-exacting fable; it was a quick read--a touch zany at times but thoroughly enjoyable.

And yes, I did intentionally use all the letters of the alphabet in the first sentence. It is, admittedly, harder than it seems.

The book is in the form of letters written among the inhabitants of a small island nation who prize, above all, their literary and vocabulary skills. When letters begin to fall from the city's motto (The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog), the city council
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Indeed this was fast, interesting read but from time to time extremely challenging. Namely my level of English is not on such a high level to be able to fully absorb what this lovely novel offers. There were so many words I never heard before so in spite the fact I could catch the context I wanted to know their exact meaning. Therefore I had to have dictionary beside me (also English-English one). But in spite "hard physical" work this read was really enjoyable!

The idea is incredibly original an
At some point (in my review, or the comments, or maybe in the comments on MJ Nicholls review) I refer to Foer's new book as an attempt to mass market the avant-garde. I mean some people hate this, I think these are the same people that are annoyed about the "twilight gets teenagers to read argument." Well I for one am a big fan of all of the ways that we are attempting to expand people's minds. I don't think people who are seriously literary should forgo the avant-garde or read twilight in place ...more
Oct 19, 2008 Kathryn rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of letters and language
Book Number Two in the "Husband-and-Wife" (aka Tyler-and-Kate) Book Club! ;-> Hugely successful! We both loved it. Wonderfully creative. Love-letters to the English language and the human spirit, and also a cautionary tale on the dangers of wearing blinders in politics and religion. A thoughtful tale, and a joy to read! Highly recommended to all my friends who love language and letters (both epistolary and alphabetical!)

It wasn't until I told someone, out loud, what I was reading that I realized the title, Ella Minnow Pea, really sounded like the "LMNOP" of the alphabet song. Now, of course, I have no idea how I missed it. Ella Minnow Pea. LMNOP. Obvious. So obvious I wonder what else I missed. Such a clever title. Such a clever book.

Ella Minnow Pea resides on the fictional island of Nallop, off the South Carolina shore, where all the residents are brought up in reverence of syntax and language. The founder and
i have scanned other reviews, and most of what other people said - "clever" "fun" "a puzzle" - certainly applies. and perhaps i should scan all the reviews, but i am a little surprised that no one on that first page seems to mention the book being a very succinct little allegory illustrating quite tidily the dangers of creeping fascism.

anyway, i really enjoyed it. unlike others, i was not irked by the sudden introduction of phoneme substitution at the end of the book - it seemed only reasonable
Mar 15, 2008 Alison rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of words, language, and letters; everyone
Shelves: rgbookclub
Every once in a while, a broad, far-reaching concept can be scaled down and illustrated beautifully through simple, subtle story-telling as in parables and fables. This is one such example.

There's no real need to try to tell anyone the "story" behind this self-proclaimed "novel of letters". If you're a reader...just dive in and enjoy. It's fresh, clever, and fun. It's like reading a book and playing Scrabble at the same time...skimming a newspaper while doing a crossword puzzle. It's a wild, bri
Ella Minnow Pea is, obviously, about censorship. It's also about mob mentality, about standing up for what's right before events get out of hand, about the corrupting nature of power, and about religious fundamentalism. And it's about word puzzles. Ella Minnow Pea is mostly written as a lipogram, entirely avoiding using one (and later, more than one) letter of the alphabet. It's also epistolary, written as a series of letters. Quite a lot to put on one small book. Does it hold up? For the most p ...more
My god.... this is what I hate about 'hype.' I was so looking forward to reading this book... I thought 'what a cute idea!' (my voice actually squealed a bit) and 'what a great cover!' and----- I'm an idiot. I should know enough by now to not let my hopes get so high.

Stupid...stupid... stooopid.

Okay, it's a cool idea. Really. The whole revering the language but also revering a man who came up with a sentence that doesn't really revere the language because it's celebrating creating a pangram. Ya
2 stars - Meh. Just ok.

The concept of this novel, a progressively lipogrammatic epistolary fable, is very creative and it had to be incredibly tedious and challenging for the author to write. Unfortunately, the execution of the concept resulted in an implausible and rather dull story. On the other hand, it's worth picking up if interested as it is an extremely fast read being short and epistolary - you can read the whole book in less than 2 hours.
Feb 10, 2009 Kat rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kat by: Emma
I decided to read this book after my friend Emma said it was one of the most creative books she's ever read. I admit, this one was certainly refreshing.

Told in the epistolary style, Ella Minnow Pea follows the trials of the island residents of Nollop as they struggle to maintain control of their language as more and more letters fall into disuse. The reader gets to know the characters through the notes they write to each other. When members of the alphabet start being banned across the island, i
Caleb Ross
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This may be one of my top 5 or 10 novels of all time. It has the perfect blend of crazy concept and beautiful execution that I love. It reads like a collaboration between Mark Z. Danielewski, Jorge Louis Borges, and Jose Saramago.
Book Concierge
On a fictitious island nation off the coast of South Carolina, the people pride themselves on their literacy and writing. Their founder, Nevin Nollop, is credited with writing "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." A sentence that contains all the letters of the alphabet, and which is memorialized in the town square. But when a letter tile falls from the monument, the Council takes that as a "sign" from above, and decrees that they should no longer use THAT letter. The far-reaching ramif ...more
Rebecca Foster
Dunn’s first novel is a book of letters – in more senses than one. It is a fairly traditional epistolary, yes, but it also toys with the letters of the alphabet: the wordy citizens of the island nation of Nollop are zealously engaged in creating pangrams (pithy sentences that contain each letter of the alphabet) in tribute to their founder Nevin Nollop, who authored “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” the original pangram displayed in ceramic tiles on his statue in the public square. ...more
I was seriously underwhelmed by this book, which actually meant I was very disappointed. The concept is great and I admire the author's skill and perseverance at finding words to convey a story through diminishing letters, but I still wasn't grabbed by it. I felt cruel and wicked not liking poor Ella.

Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,*
I love the concept of this book: letters of the alphabet are being banned one by one, so the book uses fewer and fewer letters as it progresses, and the people are fighting against this governmental oppression.

For the first half I thought it was fantastic, but I was disappointed by a couple of things later on. First, I expected that as letters were removed the author would continue to use normal spellings, but there came a point when that was given up as too difficult, and the author resorted to
Ella Minnow Pea is one of the most cleverly written books I've ever read. I Loved the whole premise, I admired the execution, and I fell in love with the story.

The fictional village isle of Nollop was named after the man, Nevin Nollop - the guy who first invented the phrase "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" - a phrase that successfully uses each letter from the English alphabet at least once. In the center square of this small village is a bronzed monument, erected many many years ag
J'ai tellement aimé ce livre que je l'ai traduit! Je suis l'auteure de la traduction française! N'hésitez pas à me poser des questions!


Postface de la traductrice Marie-Claude Plourde à l'édition française:


L'idée d'écrire en s'imposant des contraintes n'est pas nouvelle. En fait, rares sont les oeuvres qui ne sont régies par aucune règle : la plupart du temps, un auteur respectera de façon minimale style associé au type de discou
Sara ♥
Jul 22, 2009 Sara ♥ rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who love words
This book was REALLY interesting. I already have someone in mind who I'm going to let borrow it, because I know she'll get a big kick out of it!

So the premise of this book is that there's a group of people living on a fictional island off the coast of South Carolina (called Nollop), and on this island, they have a statue of a guy named Nevin Nollop, the original author of the pangram "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog," where a pangram is a sentence that uses every letter of the alphab
Aug 12, 2007 Lee rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like words and politics
Someone I trust recommended that I read this book some time ago but when I went to pick it up it was just seemed too weird (and boring. Last week a good friend (who loves the English language and books) whose taste in books overlaps with mine to a great extent told me that she thought I would like it so I gave it a try. I did like it even though it was more than a little difficult to suspend disbelief (the book is about an island where letters of the alphabet are being banned from use one at a t ...more
Waltz, nymph, for quick jigs vex Bud.

This is a book written in the epistolary fashion, which worked but the letters ended up having more context placed into them than there would be in "real" letters. The theocratic state worked for the point of the story. I get the use of formal language and rather obscure lexicon at the beginning and I see a link to our own society changing from one rich in language to one shrinking as we moved to a computer age where we can cut and paste, spell check and neve
Jan 22, 2013 FAE rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to FAE by: Andrew
Shelves: humor
This book was utterly delightful. I enjoy epistolary novels very much for some reason, and I think the style was perfect for the story that the author told. The beginning of the book used a lot of lofty, challenging vocabulary which displayed the culture of the island very well. It was sometimes a challenge to discern the made up words from words I simply was not familiar with.

As the story wore on and the letter usage became more and more limited, I really began to appreciate the challenge of l
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Mark Dunn is the author of several books and more than thirty full-length plays, a dozen of which have been published in acting edition.

Mark has received over 200 productions of his work for the stage throughout the world, with translations of his plays into French, Italian, Dutch and Hungarian. His play North Fork (later retitled Cabin Fever: A Texas Tragicomedy when it was picked up for publica
More about Mark Dunn...
Welcome to Higby Ibid Under the Harrow ZOUNDS!: A Browser's Dictionary of Interjections American Decameron

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“Lately, I haph startet painting my torso in pretty, motley hews. I sit in phront oph the mirror in the sleepy-room. I atmire my hantyworg. I am a hooman apstrat paining.” 11 likes
“Perhaps in time, Ella, the words we have lost will fade, and we will all stop summoning them by habit, only to stamp them out like unwanted toadstools when they appear. Perhaps they will eventually disappear altogether, and the accompanying halts and stammers as well: those troublesome, maddening pauses that at present invade and punctuate through caesura all manner of discourse. Trying so desperately we all are, to be ever so careful.” 8 likes
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