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One thought on “Ella Minnow Pea

  1. Richard Derus

    Rating: 4.9* of fiveThis novel is about the unintended bad, and ridiculous, consequences of a very good idea. Nollop, an island off the American mainland, is a society rational and reasonable in its organization and actions. Its usage of the English language rests on the existence of the pangram, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." The founder of Nollop invested the pangram with great significance.And now, in Ella's time, the letters of the pangram start falling off the founder's stat [...]

  2. Cecily

    Clever + Silly = waste of time and paper.A ridiculous book, masquerading as something intelligent and thought provoking. There are plenty of far better books that raise issues of totalitarianism, censorship versus free speech, superstition versus science, loyalty to friends and family versus loyalty to the state, the power of language etc in more enlightening, entertaining and less gimmicky ways. I realise my opinion is very much a minority one, so perhaps I'm overanalysing and taking it too ser [...]

  3. Melki

    *WARNING - This is MY FAVORITE book of all time, so there will be gooing, gushing and shameless pluggery!Welcome to Nollop, a quaint, autonomous island that lies quite near Charlotte, SC. Though the islanders shun modern technology, they take pride in their educated citizenry. Language is practically worshipped here, to the extent that the island is named after native son, Nevin Nollop, the author of the sentence typing students everywhere have come to know and dread:For 100 years, a cenotaph ho [...]

  4. DeB MaRtEnS

    Ella Minnow Pea (LMNOP) is a broad satire, which is conspicuous in loudly broadcasting its themes of the consequences of unfettered political power dictated to a country (fascism) with its resulting creeping loss of rights which become the new normal, as well as neighbourly reporting and ridiculously contrived punishable offences to incite fear and maintain absolute power. But once you have that nicely established, you can get down to the idiosyncratic local tale on the island of Nollop, named a [...]

  5. Richard

    Ella Minnow Pea is a girl who lives on a small island off the coast of South Carolina. This nation state, named Nollop after its founder, seems idyllic. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, tiles begin to tumble from Nollop's monument, and the Council interprets these as (pardon the pun) letters from heaven. But the island paradise soon degenerates into a totalitarian regime as hellish as anything conceived by George Orwell.This, as other reviewers have noted, is a parable about the exercise of hum [...]

  6. Kate

    I found this book at the Wilderness Library and very nearly didn't buy it. Just looking at the title, the words didn't exactly compute and I thought, "hmmm, this book seems kind of silly." Then I read "A Novel in Letters" and my shameless snoop side came out. I love, love, love reading books that are comprised of letters, I feel like I'm really snooping in someone's mail or diaries, and it makes it so interesting. So I picked up Ella and on my way to the car, said the title out loud and the ligh [...]

  7. Whitaker

    Original ReviewGeorges Perec wrote a novel without using the letter "e" even once. Dunn works a similar gimmick by writing this epistolary novel about an island that bans the use of certain letters as these drop off, one by one, from the statute of the creator of the phrase, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." "Z" is the first to go, then "Q", then "J". Things get really difficult, however, when "D" falls off. Speech, indeed communication of any kind, gets increasingly difficult as th [...]

  8. Rebecca Foster

    Dunn’s first novel is a book of letters – in more senses than one. It is a fairly traditional epistolary, yes, but it also toys with the letters of the alphabet: the wordy citizens of the island nation of Nollop are zealously engaged in creating pangrams (pithy sentences that contain each letter of the alphabet) in tribute to their founder Nevin Nollop, who authored “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” the original pangram displayed in ceramic tiles on his statue in the public [...]

  9. Beth

    This book has been on my “to read” list for a long time. It sounded interesting: a book in which the characters revere language and the alphabet, and when letters fall from the statue that celebrates their culture, they are also dropped from the novel.I’m pleased to report, first of all, that this book is wholesome, despite being on the national market and not just the LDS one (so many books I’ve picked up this year I’ve had to return to the library, unread).And this book is good to bo [...]

  10. MJ Nicholls

    An inventive epistolary and lipogrammatic novel mixing the prisoner’s constraint, pangrams, and neologisms to form an Oulipian feast. Perhaps a little Oulipo-lite? Perhaps. But the prose is impressive and despite the partial cheat towards the end (using phonetic sounds for words) the lipogram is successful and the plot something of a statement about censorship and the privilege we have in the West to use our language to express whatever we wish (and abuse this on a word-by-word basis). As some [...]

  11. Althea Ann

    A post-apocalyptic book club selection (which is technically not post-apocalyptic, but we are flexible like that). 'Ella Minnow Pea' posits an independent island nation somewhere off the coast of North Carolina. The villagers there have opted for a simple life, embracing old-fashioned, small-town values. They're governed by a town council, and revere the (fictional) historical character of Nevin Nollop, supposedly the originator of the pangrammatic phrase, "The quick brown fox jumps over the laz [...]

  12. Megan

    I loved this perky, word-exacting fable; it was a quick read--a touch zany at times but thoroughly enjoyable. And yes, I did intentionally use all the letters of the alphabet in the first sentence. It is, admittedly, harder than it seems.The book is in the form of letters written among the inhabitants of a small island nation who prize, above all, their literary and vocabulary skills. When letters begin to fall from the city's motto (The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog), the city council [...]

  13. Irene

    Clever, totally fun read about an isolated utopian community dedicated to the celebration of the English language. As lettered tiles drop off an old monument in the town square, the governing body interprets it is a supernatural sign that each letter should be removed from all spoken and written language. The verbal acrobatics that ensue is entertaining. This is also a satire of the ludicrous attempts to censure language and ban ideas and the small-minded autocrats that enact such policies.

  14. Mike

    Ella Minnow Pea starts as a cute, light hearted book about a fictional country that idolizes Nevin Nollop, the man who discovered the pangram "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dogs." Written in the form of letters between townsfolk, the tale turns to fear as letters from Nollop's famous line begin falling off a statue erected to his honor. The Island Council decrees it is the will of Nollop (dead for nearly a century) for his people to no longer use those letters. Any one found using them [...]

  15. Milan/zzz

    Indeed this was fast, interesting read but from time to time extremely challenging. Namely my level of English is not on such a high level to be able to fully absorb what this lovely novel offers. There were so many words I never heard before so in spite the fact I could catch the context I wanted to know their exact meaning. Therefore I had to have dictionary beside me (also English-English one). But in spite "hard physical" work this read was really enjoyable!The idea is incredibly original an [...]

  16. ·Karen·

    This delightful little epistolary novel passed away a few hours in the train very pleasantly indeed. But it should not be under-estimated merely because it is short, fun and easy to read. It consists of the correspondence between various members of a community that live on a fictional island off the south west coast of the USA. Their culture is one of letters, of written correspondence, in a somewhat anachronistic formal style that takes delight in the polysyllabic. Imagine therefore their disma [...]

  17. Lucy

    It wasn't until I told someone, out loud, what I was reading that I realized the title, Ella Minnow Pea, really sounded like the "LMNOP" of the alphabet song. Now, of course, I have no idea how I missed it. Ella Minnow Pea. LMNOP. Obvious. So obvious I wonder what else I missed. Such a clever title. Such a clever book.Ella Minnow Pea resides on the fictional island of Nallop, off the South Carolina shore, where all the residents are brought up in reverence of syntax and language. The founder and [...]

  18. Wiebke (1book1review)

    This book blew my mind. I had not expected what I got.The writing first of all is amazing, especially as it gets more challenging as the story progresses.The story itself touches so many aspects that it is unbelievable that this book is so short.The format of only including letters is perfect, as it shows the effect of the changes and the struggles and hardship of the people a lot better than any other form of narration could.This is a fast read that will impress you and leave you thinking long [...]

  19. Kathryn

    Book Number Two in the "Husband-and-Wife" (aka Tyler-and-Kate) Book Club! ;-> Hugely successful! We both loved it. Wonderfully creative. Love-letters to the English language and the human spirit, and also a cautionary tale on the dangers of wearing blinders in politics and religion. A thoughtful tale, and a joy to read! Highly recommended to all my friends who love language and letters (both epistolary and alphabetical!)

  20. Jasmine

    At some point (in my review, or the comments, or maybe in the comments on MJ Nicholls review) I refer to Foer's new book as an attempt to mass market the avant-garde. I mean some people hate this, I think these are the same people that are annoyed about the "twilight gets teenagers to read argument." Well I for one am a big fan of all of the ways that we are attempting to expand people's minds. I don't think people who are seriously literary should forgo the avant-garde or read twilight in place [...]

  21. Kim

    My god. this is what I hate about 'hype.' I was so looking forward to reading this book I thought 'what a cute idea!' (my voice actually squealed a bit) and 'what a great cover!' and----- I'm an idiot. I should know enough by now to not let my hopes get so high. Stupidupid stooopid.Okay, it's a cool idea. Really. The whole revering the language but also revering a man who came up with a sentence that doesn't really revere the language because it's celebrating creating a pangram. Yadda yadda yadd [...]

  22. Cher

    2 stars - Meh. Just ok.The concept of this novel, a progressively lipogrammatic epistolary fable, is very creative and it had to be incredibly tedious and challenging for the author to write. Unfortunately, the execution of the concept resulted in an implausible and rather dull story. On the other hand, it's worth picking up if interested as it is an extremely fast read being short and epistolary - you can read the whole book in less than 2 hours. -------------------------------------------Favor [...]

  23. Ru

    i have scanned other reviews, and most of what other people said - "clever" "fun" "a puzzle" - certainly applies. and perhaps i should scan all the reviews, but i am a little surprised that no one on that first page seems to mention the book being a very succinct little allegory illustrating quite tidily the dangers of creeping fascismyway, i really enjoyed it. unlike others, i was not irked by the sudden introduction of phoneme substitution at the end of the book - it seemed only reasonable tha [...]

  24. Alison

    Every once in a while, a broad, far-reaching concept can be scaled down and illustrated beautifully through simple, subtle story-telling as in parables and fables. This is one such example.There's no real need to try to tell anyone the "story" behind this self-proclaimed "novel of letters". If you're a readerjust dive in and enjoy. It's fresh, clever, and fun. It's like reading a book and playing Scrabble at the same timeimming a newspaper while doing a crossword puzzle. It's a wild, brilliant r [...]

  25. Rebecca Skane

    I think I need to start a "weird" bookshelf. Clever and fun to read, but the pull of the gimmick doesn't last long. Thankfully, it's a short book.

  26. Sesana

    Ella Minnow Pea is, obviously, about censorship. It's also about mob mentality, about standing up for what's right before events get out of hand, about the corrupting nature of power, and about religious fundamentalism. And it's about word puzzles. Ella Minnow Pea is mostly written as a lipogram, entirely avoiding using one (and later, more than one) letter of the alphabet. It's also epistolary, written as a series of letters. Quite a lot to put on one small book. Does it hold up? For the most p [...]

  27. Elizabeth (Alaska)

    I needed to engage my sense of humor on this, and I admit at first it didn't come into play. The first letter gone missing was the Z. Was there no one on the island named Elizabeth? Eventually, however, I got into the mood of the thing. The Islanders became quite creative in both their choice of words and their spelling. Toward the end, the spelling was almost beyond creative. I thought of the "gibberish" I complained of in Cloud Atlas. Fortunately, this gibberish was very, very short!I had expe [...]

  28. Jessica

    This book came up in my timeline and I realized that I had rated but never reviewed it. What is there to say? Every time I come across my copy, or see it mentioned anywhere, I smile. It just makes me happy. As someone who loves books, and words in general, this book is a jewel.

  29. Holly Haze

    Colossal waste of time. I cannot believe this book was on a list of must-reads. Heed my warning. Idiotic prose at best.

  30. Elise (TheBookishActress)

    Ella Minnow Pea follows a town where letters are slowly being banned as they stop from a statue. It's fun and it's clever. The amount of puns and linguistical jokes in here is awesome. I appreciated visually seeing the prose become sparser. Honestly, I can't imagine writing a book like this, and I'm really impressed by the author's talent. Don't mistake this for just a simple gimmick; the author also incorporates a message about religion and banning books in here. The town council's fanaticism i [...]