Friday Reads, or “Project Read My Own Damn Books”—Ella Minnow Pea

So far this year I’ve finished reading five books. I’m pretty pleased with that. I also know I can’t possibly keep up that pace. I’m teaching a class starting next Tuesday, I want to finish my work-in-progress by April 1, and I will need to try to pick up more freelance work in the next couple months if I’m not going to completely deplete my savings. (And I haven’t done my taxes yet. Oy.)

But! Moving on. I’m currently reading three books:

  • My Antonia by Willa Cather
  • You Should Pity Us Instead by Amy Gustine
  • THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT by Alexander Chee

I put that one in all caps because my heavens, it’s good and I’ve put aside the other two so I can concentrate on it. But more on that once I’ve finished it. Here’s what I’ve finished so far:

  1. The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
  2. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
  3. Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man: A Memoir by Bill Clegg
  4. Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
  5. The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Ella Minnow PeaI talked about The Parable of the Sower a couple weeks ago. Ella Minnow Pea is a book I was given for my 40th birthday (thanks, Andy!) but for some reason haven’t gotten around to until now. Who knows why, as it’s a fast read and is written in a style that I have longed to try myself, the epistolary novel. Ooh, fancy word meaning “letters.” As in letters you send to people, not letters of the alphabet. But, as it happens, there’s a double meaning going on in this satire:

Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,* “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a book to cozy up with over the Valentine’s Day weekend, Bold Strokes Books is having a 10% off sale on romances if you use the coupon code LOVE16. Check it out.