Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ella Minnow Pea (copy)

Twenty-one miles off the coast of South Carolina swims an independent island called Nollop. It is named for its most famous inhabitant, Nevin Nollop, who developed the popular pangram “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” (Pangram is a sentence assembled by using all the letters of the alphabet.) In the midst of the island’s square, stands a monument with each letter represented by its own tile in the illustrious sentence.

In this small nation, devotion to the word is a tradition. The governing bodies encourage citizens to pursue language, but technological is forgotten. Nollopians do not watch television or chatter on phones or type on computers. They have a daily newspaper, an enormous library and keep in close communication with their neighbors through letters.

On the morning of July 17, little Alice Butterworth was crossing the town square when she came upon shattered bits of tile. Looking up she notice one of the tiles from the cenotaph missing and realized she was staring at the remains of the letter “Z” from the word “lazy”. Dutiful Alice rushed the pieces to the office of High Island Council and a meeting was called.

The emergency meeting generated many a spectator and within seconds opinions were filling the air. So much so, Most Senior Gordon Willingham called for a closed session.

The Nollopians mulled around the outside windows while councilmen debated the little tile’s fate. Tempers flared and some stormed off only to be called back. Finally, after three hours, Willingham stepped out on the courthouse steps to convey the decision. “From this day forward the letter “Z” will no longer be employed. Those in violation of the new Anti-Z law will suffer dire consequences. First offense is a public reprimand. Second offense is a choice between corporal punishment by flogging or public humiliation through a day in the headstocks. Third offense calls for banishment from the island forever.”

We have been under this rule for less than a month and the newspaper has ceased to print and the library has closed. There have been 27 first offenses, 3 second offenses and young Master Creevy has been shipped to the States. We cringe knowing the “Q” fell off the monument this morning.

Ella Minnow Pea by Memphis playwright, Mark Dunn, is told completely through letters. Readers better mind their “p’s” and “q’s” as letters begin to drop like flies.

17 comments:

Vickie said...

I have always loved the title of this book, but did not know what it was about! Now I have to get it! Thanks for the review!

Marie DeVries said...

that book looks like such fun! I'll have to pick it up soon...

____Maggie said...

Vickie and Marie DeVries, I have enjoyed it tremendously! Lots of play on words that sound like letters and extensive use of creative lettering makes for pure d fun! Oh, it is set in the south by a southern author, so my first official book for the Southern Reading Challenge. :D

Lisa said...

I have had this one on my stacks for what seems like years. Every time I read a review I think that now's the time, and then forget again.

Anonymous said...

I read this one last year (I think) and loved it. As the letters drop, it becomes even more fun to read as you have to figure out the words as they are written. Fun book!

Tiffany Norris said...

Loved-loved-loved this book! It's been awhile since I read it (too long), but it's an all-time fave.

Sharon said...

This sounds like a fun read. I love word play! I've never heard of it before. :(

raidergirl3 said...

I remember really liking this book. The skill of the writer was so cool. Not the story so much, which it was still pretty neat, but the play on words was the best.

txmommy said...

sounds like a fun book. I "hate" to come here because my list of must reads gets longer and longer!

____Maggie said...

Lisa Pick it Up! Commence to reading!!! :D

Does.In = dozen Lynne! I was thinking surely she isn't sleeping on a cot, but then I realized the "d" is gone! :D

I've nevah read a book that has this many words I've nevah heard of Tiffany! Dictionary by nightstand otherwise I have to get up in the middle of the night for gripgrasping! ;) Hubby is dying to read it!

Sharon I think it came out in 2002 and I heard of the book through our Memphis newspaper. Mark lived in Memphis before hitting the NYC sidewalks! I look forward to more from him! :)

Thanks RaiderGirl3! He keeps you wondering how he will work this last letter out of existence. :)

That's so good to hear, TX Mommy! I have a follower of my articles in the newspaper and she reads every book I suggest. Sorta feel like Oprah! Bah!!! :D

Paul said...

You gotta love Harry Crews !!

gautami tripathy said...

Great title! After reading your thoughts about it, I am going to pick it up!


SRC3:Mudbound
SRC3:A Streetcar Named Desire

____Maggie said...

Yay, Gautami!!!

Kim said...

Oh my gosh, I loved this book when I read it years ago! I kind of had forgotten about it--maybe someday I will re-read it. :)
*smiles*
Kim

____Maggie said...

I wish I had read it sooner, Kim! I swear I bought it when it first came out and let it languish on the library shelves for years! That will teach me! :D

Anonymous said...

This looks very intersting. I'll have take a look next time I;m at the library.

____Maggie said...

I hope you read it Stacy! Very good, very good indeed! ;D