Sometimes books appear and disappear before they’ve gotten the attention that’s due them. One such book is Mark Dunn’s clever and well-crafted Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters, published in 2001. In this delightful and witty work, language itself becomes the medium through which Dunn explores deeper topics such as the role of language in our lives and freedom of speech.
Dunn’s tale unfolds just off the coast of South Carolina, on a fictional island nation whose most famous native son, Neville Nollop, created the phrase “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” using every letter in the alphabet with few repeats. When the letters in Nollop’s famous phrase begin, one-by-one, to fall from his memorial statue and are banned from use, they disappear from the novel as well. The narrative that emerges showcases Dunn’s artistry in its remarkable and imaginative wordplay.
Reading this book is—well, it’s fun. It’s the feeling of a lazy Sunday spent whittling away at a crossword puzzle while sipping a mimosa. It’s lovely and easy and smart: a quick read that’s as enjoyable as it is thought-provoking. So pop the cork and get comfortable—you’ll read it in one sitting.
Ella Minnow Pea can be purchased here: http://amzn.to/gYsWEL
This book review was written by one of Modern Ink’s talented contributing writers, Lindsay Saint Clair, who has spent her entire life in the throes of a wild, raving love affair with the written word. The only things she likes quite as much as curling up with a good book and a glass of wine are her wonderful husband and two beautiful boys. She is currently working as a freelance writer and editor while she finishes her thesis for her Masters degree in Humanities from San Francisco State University. After nearly a decade in San Francisco and a short stint in Atlanta, Lindsay now resides in Chicago. Stay tuned as she contributes book reviews for Modern Ink Mag and visit her at her other sites: http://www.spaceandmemory.blogspot.com and http://satellitessurroundus.blogspot.com/