Ella Minnow Pea is an epistolary novel set in the fictional island of Nollop situated off the coast of South Carolina and home to the inventor the pangram The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog. Now deceased, the islanders have erected a monument to honor their hero, but one day a tile with the letter “z” falls from the statue. The leaders interpret the falling tile as a message from beyond the grave and the letter is banned from use. On an island where the residents pride themselves on their love of language, this is seen as a tragedy. They are still reeling from the shock, when another tile falls and then another.... Mark Dunn takes us on a journey against time through the eyes of Ella Minnow Pea and her family as they race to find another phrase containing all the letters of the alphabet to save them from being unable to communicate. Eventually, the only letters remaining are LMNOP, when Ella finally discovers the phrase that will save their language.
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Mark Dunn is the author of more than twenty-five full-length plays. Belles and Five Tellers Dancing in the Rain have together received over 150 productions throughout the world and he has been the recipient of several national playwriting awards. He is currently playwright-in-residence with the New Jersey Repertory Company and the Community League in Williamsport, PA.
His screenplay Judy Garland Slept Here will be released as a feature length film this year by WhiteWolf Productions.
Originally from Memphis, he now lives in Greenwich Village with his wife Mary and two cats. Ella Minnow Pea is his first novel.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
.... On Wednesday, July 19, the Council, having gleaned and discerned, released its official verdict: the fall of the tile bearing the letter “z” constitutes the terrestrial manifestation of an empyrean Nollopian desire, that most surely being that the letter “z” should be utterly excised — fully extirpated — absolutively heave-ho’ed from our communal vocabulary! Henceforth, use of the arguably superfluous twenty-sixth letter will be outlawed from all island speech and graphy. Mr. Nollop, who knows best the needs of the island which he claimed as home after years of peripatetic travel through the world of language and linguistics, has issued a directive to the people of this nation—has sat fully upright upon his bier, as it were, and—continuing to guide our lives and social intercourse through undying interest in and love of the islanders who drew him and his brilliance to their collective bosom- has issued this challenge direct from his very grave: we are heretofore to communicate using only the twenty-five letters that remain.
And we, as his grateful servants (serving the memory of his greatness) have been called by High Council to obey. Under penalties to be determined by the aforementioned Council.
On Friday, July 21, those penalties were decided. They are as follows: to speak or write any word containing the letter “z”, or to be found in possession of any written communication containing this letter, one will receive for a first offense, a public oral reprimand either by a member of the island Law Enforcement Brigade (known with trembling affection as the L.E.B.) or by a member of its civilian auxiliary. Second offenders will be offered choice between corporal pain of body-flogging and the public humiliation of headstock upon the public square (or in your case, the village commons). For third offense, violators will be banished from the island. Refusal to leave upon order of Council will result in death. Death.
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