Ella Minnow Pea

Thoughts A Novel in Letters by Mark Dun, Anchor 2014 (orig 2001), 208 pages

Challenge: n/a

Genre/Theme: Graphic Memoir, Nonfiction

Type/Source: eBook, Libby

What It’s About: This is another title that has been on my tbr for what feels like forever. This time, I intend to overcome by hesitancy of reviewing due to time away from the habit and give you my synopsis (to the 2 or 3 of you who are sweet enough to visit and read this.)

Ella is a person. (I hadn’t realized this until I encountered in the story – see? I really do NOT read what books are about! I just think, “oooo this is supposed to be good, I should tbr it.”) She lives on a fictional island off the coast of South Carolina.

The story starts when a tile falls from the signage of the Memorial dedicated to the island’s founder and hero – the guy who penned the phrase “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

The leaders of this community thus then decree that the letter that has fallen must cease to be used in the vocabulary, the spoken and written words! of the inhabitants. MAYHEM ENSUES when more letters fall to the ground and are stricken from use on penalty of … public scorn, banishment or death.

“As we were all gathering for breakfast, courtesy of an early-morning raid on the amply stocked Willingham family larder, we learned that Harton Mangrove had again tried to take his own life, this time by repeatedly whacking himself in the head with a heavy wooden rolling pin.”

This story isn’t just about letters but is TOLD in letters! Oh the cleverness! the ability to convey thoughts and feelings via correspondence progressively (?) diminishedly! as the letters are no longer legal.

Thoughts: This was such a fun read. I was quite amazed at the cleverness.

I was sad, though, that the resolution seemed much to be based on LUCK rather than power-of-the-people because YES, this has political overtones of fascism. It is not about character development and nuance. It is about plot plot plot OH NO! finally Ella wins the day!! Of course she does. But it still annoyed me; ever so slightly. DID SHE REALLY WIN? or was she just lucky enough to pay attention? Does it matter – evil was defeated, so YAY.

Rating: Four slices of pie. I count the rolling pin and yes, pizza pie counts.

“Hundreds of words await ostracism from our functional vocabularies: waltz and fizz and squeeze and booze and frozen pizza pie,…”


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