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Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters (2001)

por Mark Dunn

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
3,2492283,008 (3.89)421
Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island?s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl?s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.… (mais)
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    bookwoman247: Word play and language are an intregal part of both books. Ella Minnow Pea is a bit more sophisticated, but for adults or teens who enjoyed Haroun and the Sea of Stories, I think they will also find Ella Minnow Pea very enjoyable.
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Parable, satire, or just plain fun, this delightful little novelette traces the misfortunes which befall the inhabitants of a mythical island off the coast of South Carolina when letters begin disappearing from the alphabet.

The island, you see, was the home of the equally mythical Nevin Nollop, he who composed that catchy little phrase “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” It’s a pangram, you see – a sentence including all 26 letters of the alphabet, and useful to typesetters, beginning typists, code writers, and anyone else who has need to corral individual symbols into coherent words. Their commemorative statue to Nollop, decorated with tiles spelling out his claim to immortality, is beginning to age somewhat, and one day – horrors! – one of the tiles slips from its mortar and crashes to the ground. Whereupon the Ruling Council decides this to be a message from beyond the grave – that the saintly Nollop is decreeing that henceforth no one should use the fallen letter (this one happens to be “Z”) in either spoken or written form.

As additional tiles begin to fall, additional letters are banned, and author Dunn dutifully soldiers on without them in the narrative, which is composed entirely of letters and written notes between characters. One could become very analytical about this, and discuss the conflict between the human drive to communicate and the equally compelling drive to remain part of one’s culture, or draw parallels between repressive dictatorships and freedom of speech. Or one could simply sit back and enjoy the fun as the remaining letters are gang-pressed into service to get the point across.

A few sub-plots emerge – a couple of romances, attempts to either unseat the Ruling Council or to convince them to rescind their draconian rulings, and a final desperate project to create a new pangram, thus proving Nollop was not divinely inspired. But the real fun is just watching the language emerge as the characters unwillingly play a kind of linguistic Jenga – how many letters can they extract before the whole language collapses?

Great fun for word lovers. And be sure to read the datelines on the notes and letters, which become progressively sillier as writers struggle gamely on as more bits of the alphabet elude them. ( )
  LyndaInOregon | Apr 19, 2021 |
I like the conceit well enough, and it's a fun and unusual way to drive the narrative. Unfortunately, the plot itself fell flat for me. There were little glimpses of interesting characters and subplots and the stuff that forms the life of a novel, but too much of it felt contrived (in a bad way). I suspect some people who are really, really excited about words will be happy with this as a love letter to the English language. Judged as a book, though, I think it comes up short. ( )
  iangreenleaf | Jan 26, 2021 |
I'd heard so much of this book but hesitated reading it because well, it just sounded too gimicky. It was- and it wasn't. Very clever the wordplay, plenty of charm and humor throughout and yet how sobering the underlying message. The premise starts out with something rather ridiculous- there's a small self-governing island where everybody loves language and letter-writing. It was founded by the man who created the famous pangram "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog". He's so revered there's a statue to him with the sentence below in tiles. One day a tile falls off: the letter Z.

The ruling Council declares that this must be a sign from their dead founder, who now wishes them to all quit using the letter Z, whether speaking or writing. The citizens don't see that as much hardship and go along. But then more letters start to fall, and one after another is banned from use. The Council puts in place serious punishments for those who don't comply. As the story is told in letters written between some of the island inhabitants, you can see how the restrictions of language starts to make things fall apart. At first people just choose different words to avoid problematic ones- making for sentences full of interesting word choices- I had to look so many up! Then their sentences get less prosaic and descriptive, more brief and to the point. Eventually so many letters are banned they have to substitute numerals, or use creative phonetic spelling (which was a bit tricky to puzzle out in the final pages). Some people outright give up and quit writing at all. Also as the governing Council tightens its control on people you see how they all respond- some quickly report each other for infractions, others band together and help those in need. The library is shut down, schools soon close, people deliberately leave the island, or are forced out- and so other business start to fail as there are fewer customers. Suspicions abound.

However there's a possible solution- as the original revered pangram was presumed divine simply because it was so unique, if someone can come up with a new sentence using all the letters (without anything superfluous), it will prove the founder wasn't godlike. (Because at this point, most of the Council were treating it like a religion and getting fanatic about things).

I thought the solution just so clever as the rest of the book- especially how it was discovered (made me laugh though, because the detail it came from was something I'd wondered earlier why it was in the book at all). I didn't really get a sense of any characters in this story told through letters though- my focus first being what they were saying (especially when I had to figure out the meanings of invented or oddly phonetic words), and the second being what the letters told me about what was happening to the society at large. The individuals, I kind of just glossed over them.

from the Dogear Diary ( )
  jeane | Jan 25, 2021 |
Quite the quirky book on religious intolerance sparked by lost letters that force people to communicate without using said lost letters. A lot of fun with words. ( )
  WiebkeK | Jan 21, 2021 |
I loved this book! Definitely for word and language lovers. Told through correspondence, using fewer alphabetic letters as the story progresses, I thought it was inventive and very fun. I also loved the underlying dark notion of abuse of power and loss of language. Quite a timely read. ( )
  JustZelma | Dec 20, 2020 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Mark Dunnautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculated
Gall, JohnDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Risberg, MiaDesignerautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Williams, ClaireDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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In the beginning was the Word.

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Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island?s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl?s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.

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