Friday, January 13, 2006

Ella Minnow Pea

So, first book of the year was Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

It was recommended by a friend of mine, so I added it to the tbr stack, where it was promptly forgotten about it until last week, when I needed a book for work.

I liked the premise of this story, set on a fictional island off the coast of the Carolinas, where everyone there reveres the written word and language and this man named Nollop. Sort of their demi-god it seems, as when the letters from his famous sentence start to fall off of Nollop's statue, the town council decides that going forward, those letters are no longer to be used.

The townspeople, for the most part, seem to see this as an amusing quirk oops! 'q' was the first letter to go, something to challenge them, but then it spiralled out of control. As more letters fell, more people were either banished or left in protest and the council began to seize more power over the remaining people and the island. Eventually though, good overcomes evil...I mean, the council is beaten, the entire alphabet is restored, and one has to assume that things will go back to normal for the islanders, since that's basically where the book ends.

After thinking about it for a day or so, I'm still not sure if I enjoyed this book or not. As a vocabulary builder, it's excellent; the Nollopians love the alphabet and use it extensively. It was also a quick speedy read, but I was left wanting in regards to the ending. The underlying theme of censorship was never directly addressed and that struck me as odd.

As a side note, it'd be an interesting choice for a high school English class: starting out quite incredibly vocab intensive, it ends in pheonetically spelled words and some slang. It could also be tied in with a censorship theme, since it's written in a much lighter tone, than say Orson Well's 1984.

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