Mark Dunn   Ella Minnow Pea  
Mark Dunn  
Read an Interview with Mark Dunn

Read an Excerpt from Ella Minnow Pea

Listen to Mark Dunn read

Read an excerpt from Mark Dunn's unreleased novel


Ella Minnow Pea by playwright Mark Dunn is a progressively lipogrammatic epistolary novel. If that description sounds like a formal and dry creative writing excerise, rest assured that it is anything but. This slim, extraordinarily creative novel provides about as much fun as one can have between the covers of a book.

Ella Minnow Pea is a teenage girl living on the fictional island of Nollop just off the Carolina coast, and former home of one Nevin Nollop, inventor of the famous pangram "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." Using every letter of the alphabet in one 35-letter sentence has earned Nollop the eternal adoration of the island state's citizenry, who revere language and for whom letter writing remains the communication means of choice. Beneath the memorial of Nevin Nollop, his pangram, spelled out in 35 tiles, is affixed to the statue's base. When the letters begin to fall and shatter, the island's High Council decrees that the fallen letters must be expunged from the citizen's vocubulary; words containing the outlawed letters can be neither spoken, written nor read. The library is an immediate victim, and as more and more letters fall, the islanders difficulty in adhering to their increasingly limited vocabulary face the harsh penalities of creeping totalitarianism. Ella and her fellow partisans fight to reclaim their linguistic freedom and beat back the tide of zealotry.

Like the witty offspring of Orwell and Nabokov, Ella Minnow Pea is a brilliant parable that delights the reader while telling a serious, cautionary tale. In this issue of Bold Type you'll find an interview with author Mark Dunn, an exclusive reading, an excerpt from the novel and several chapters from an unreleased novel.

Larry Weissman

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  Photo credit: Larry Weissman

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