Saturday, May 5, 2007

Ella Minnow Pea

I finally got around to reading “Ella Minnow Pea,” by Mark Dunn. A book that Yola recommended to me ages ago. And she was right… was lovely. The book description reads:
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 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 tile as a message from beyond the grave and the letter is banned from use. On an island where the residents pride themselves on their love of language, this is seen as a tragedy. They are still reeling from the shock, when another tile falls and then another....

Dunn writes very well, and I like the idea that every one on the island is so literary with extensive vocabularies. It seems fitting since their identity as a community is based on a single sentence.

My favorite letters:

Toes, Noogie 7


Here’s the news: there is a new woman on my street. Her name is Georgeanne Towgate. She is lonely, shows great apprehension. I will try to help her. She is not at all similar to my Tom who is strong, wise, pleasing to the eye. Thy gelatin was so tasty. I am happy I met thee.


Phritay, Nophemger 10


Tanya toll me yew were assing aphter me. I am phine.
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 painting! This morning I got some olt remnant paint phrom the hartware warehoose. Now I haph enoph to paint all opher my whole selph!

Yor phfrent,

O.k. Word really didn’t like that last letter. I had to go back and re-correct the corrections.

What amazed me about this book was Dunn's ability to write meaningful, correct sentences when less and less letters were available to use. Pretty clever.


yola said...

I'm so glad you liked it! This book totally reminded me of you--the epistolariness and elevated speech of it.

I remember your scorn when I read "Anne of Windy Poplars" and didn't like the letter-writing so much. Your incredulity made me feel like I'd totally missed something and ever since then I've paid more attention to the form. See how you influence me! And the elevated speech in the book always reminds me of your "facetious" incident in biology! ;)

Anonymous said...

Was I ever so gauche as to reprimand you for disliking Anne of Windy Poplars? has never been my favorite. I think I have only read it twice. I always felt jipped because the really good letters, when her pen is neither too scratchy or to soft, one never gets to read. Sigh.


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