Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Book 32 of 2013: Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

I saw Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn mentioned on several of the blogs I visited during the A to Z Challenge and something about it really appealed to my geeky linguistic tendencies. It's a story set on the fictional island of Nollop which is the home of the creator of the sentence 'The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog' which uses each letter of the alphabet at least once.

This sentence is displayed on a statue in the centre of town, but gradually the letters begin to fall off one by one. The town council sees this as a message from Nollop and so as the letters disappear from the sign, so they are ruled out of the town's vocabulary. Unfortunately as more and more letters drop off this makes speaking and writing very difficult.

I decided to treat myself to this book because the premise of it really appealed to me. As the town's council bans the use of certain letters, so the book ceases to use them as well. It's also told entirely through the use of letters, that is, notes and other forms of correspondence. It's all such a clever idea that after seeing several people mention it I knew that I just had to read it.

I enjoyed most of this story. I didn't want to put it down and managed to read it all in one day, starting in the morning, reading it right the way through my lunch break (sitting outside in the lovely warm sunshine), and finishing it up once I got home.

However I did struggle with it as more letters became forbidden as it became harder to decipher what was actually being said. I felt as though as things went on some of the letters didn't really add much to the actual story but were really just there to demonstrate how the author could write without actually using certain letters.

I also felt that some of the characters didn't really have very distinct voices, presumably because they were all restricted to using the same style of writing due to the constrictions on which letters could be used. It meant that in some cases I didn't know who was writing a particular letter until I got to the end of it when it was signed by the person who had written it.

All the same, it's one I'm going to revisit in the future. It's a lovely quick read so even if bits of it did bother me a little, it's not like they're going to bother me for all that long. And perhaps they won't bother me quite as much on a future reread.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think. :-)