Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
Lipograms, Letters, Island Life, Fascist Governments, Humor
On a small island off the eastern US, there lives a society so obsessed with the phrase “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” that when the letter Z falls from their sign they take it as a sign from the sentence’s dead creator that Z should no longer be part of their vocabulary. Dunn has crafted a tale of humorous and lipogrammatic excess that also manages to be quite a hefty political commentary as the islanders are beaten and banished for their slip-ups. The whole book is written through letters between the islanders, and grows increasingly outrageous as more letters fall. While I respect his efforts, I do wish there had been more heart to the story; it was easy to forget which characters was which as they were all so similar, and I didn’t care about any of them. I would recommend to wordsmiths and anyone interested in how he handled the loss of letters.