Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Ella Minnow Pea: a Novel in Letters by Mark DunnNollop is a (fictional) sovereign state on a small island off the coast of South Carolina, named for the man who purportedly composed the famous pangram: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” The citizens revere and almost worship Nollop; when the letters of the pangram, which are engraved on a memorial statue, start to fall off due to wear and tear, the government interprets this as instruction from their faux-deity to stop using said letters in any form, written or spoken. The new laws are enforced by public flogging, banishment, and possibly execution.

As more and more letters fall and are subsequently outlawed, the peaceful and law-abiding (to a fault) society gradually grinds to a halt, eventually becoming a totalitarian state. Only one thing can save them, but you’ll have to read it to find out.

The whole thing is clever, light-hearted and written in whimsical prose. There are a few logical gaps in the story, but they are easy to ignore because of the way the plot is advanced–indirectly, by written letters between characters. Near the end of the book, when only a handful of legal letters remain available and people cheat with phonetics, it got tedious to read simply because of the concentration required. It might have worked better as a short story, but overall it’s a fun read.

Ella Minnow Pea: a Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition

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