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12 February 2007

Ella Minnow Pea

ELLA MINNOW PEA:
a progressively lipogrammatic epistolary fable
by Mark Dunn

Ella Minnow Pea is set on the tiny island nation of Nollop, just off of the coast of South Carolina. The people of Nollop take the English language seriously and pride themselves on its correct usage. In fact, they practically worship Nevin Nollop, the man who came up with the shortest sentence using all of the letters of the alphabet. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. They even have a statue of him in the capital square that includes that pangram.


But one day a tile falls off of the statue. The letter Z. The High Island Council goes into an emergency meeting. When they come out they have decided that Nevin Nollop is upset with the people for taking sloppy usage of the language. Therefore, the letter Z is banned. It is no longer allowed in writing or speech. There are even penalties for its usage.


As more tiles fall off of the statue, more letters are forbidden from use. The ramifications of this are enormous. The language and the society begin to unravel. The citizens of Nollop have little time left to come up with a solution to the total destruction of their culture and way of life.

Mark Dunn has written a thought provoking, scary novel about the power of governments using a format that is hilarous and heartwreching to anyone who uses the English language. I highly recommend this book to anyone who prizes our freedom of access to books.

Dunn, Mark. (2001). Ella Minnow Pea: a progressively lipogrammatic epistolary fable. San Fransisco: MacAdam / Cage.

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