A few years ago in the Fairfield University bookstore, I came across a lovely little book called Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. It’s just the kind of book that fans of language like my readers would enjoy!
It’s an interesting concept. The entire novel is in the form of letters. It takes place on a fictitious island nation off the coast of South Carolina called Nollop. The island is named after Nevin Nollop, author of the pangram, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
A pangram is a sentence that uses every letter in the alphabet. The island worships Nevin Nollop’s incredible, short pangram so much that he becomes the center of their lives. In the center of town, they have a statue built in his honor, with a monument documenting each letter in each word.
All is well — until the Z falls off.
The nation decides to consider it a sign from above and ban the usage of the letter Z. Consequently, the letter Z disappears from Ella’s letters and the novel as a whole.
As time goes on, more letters start falling, and the villagers are prosecuted and eventually banned from the island for using any of the letters, even in casual conversation. The X disappears, more lesser-used letters disappear, and finally the vowels start going as well!
All the while, the citizens work to find a literary solution to restore order on the island.
It’s really interesting to see how Mark Dunn is able to write beautifully, even after dropping as many as half the letters in the alphabet!
I highly recommend this lovely little book. Best of all, you could read the whole thing in a rainy afternoon like today. Click here to check it out on Amazon.com.