Friday, February 25, 2011
Readers who answered my Dystopian August survey said one of the things they'd like me to do is to spotlight books I've read in the past but not reviewed.
ELLA MINNOW PEA is one of the most inventive novels I've ever read. It's starts out with a crazy premise - on the island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina there is a community who reveres Nevin Nollop the writer of the sentence "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog". When letters start falling off his statue, the island's council takes it as a sign that Nollop doesn't want them to use that letter anymore and it is banned from all speech and letters on threat of explusion from the community.
The novel is all letters Ella writes to her cousin Tassie and Ella has to be increasingly creative with the language she uses as the alphabet at her disposal decreases. At first, it is merely annoying, but Ella is always able to find alternative ways to say what she needs to. But towards the end, her letters look like this:
Thangs 4 telling me oph what happen to Mr. Mannheim. Yew are right. We were inteet worging together.
In any case, Dunn explores a totalitarian dystopia that seeks to limit freedom of expression with wit and wisdom. A fun novel for anyone who loves language and is looking for a book in the genre that goes beyond the doom and gloom.