Philip's Reviews > Ella Minnow Pea: A Progressively Lipogrammatic Epistolary Fable

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
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's review
Mar 14, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: experimental, satire
Read in March, 2012

** spoiler alert ** Imagine a comic "Lord of the Flies" about the challenges of losing letters from the English language with a good dollop of satire thrown in, but as an epistolary novel. The title character, Ella, and her family communicate with each other and the world outside their community of Nollop mainly through letters, notes, and the like. Nollop, of course, is named for the presumed composer of the sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog," and when that dedication to his brilliance begins to lose its letters, the city fathers decide Nollop is communicating with them from the dead. Nollop, they determine, wants them to stop using the letters that have fallen, making the novel lippogrammatic from that point forward because those letters are outlawed. The linguistic lark turns dark and people are whipped and deported for using the forbidden letters until it reaches a point where the title character can spell her name... but only phonetically as LMNOP. It's a challenge that author Mark Dunn meets with relish. It's fun, it's dark, and often very pointed without becoming overwhelming. Read it!

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