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

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
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's review
Feb 19, 2008

it was amazing
Read in December, 2005

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 like push-ups for your brain. At first, the work-out was to make sense of the vocabulary-enfused text; then, as the letters drop and ideas are conveyed more creatively (even through the use of phonetic near-matches — e.g. “worriet” instead of “worried”), I felt a bit like I was playing MadGab.

The novel is a quick read (many of the 208 pages were actually almost entirely blank) and an interesting story, as well. It’s amazing to me how Dunn was able to work so much drama in the story using such limited literary devices (even the novel form — which is told via letters to and from characters in the book — is somewhat stagnating, not to mention the aforementioned rules about the alphabet letters’ slow elimination).

Dunn’s opening pangram (which is actually used to define “pangram”) aptly describes the book: “a quirky novel with pages of zany, jumbled lexicon” — a treat to read.
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