Ella Minnow Pea a novel in letters


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T** **i** ***wn *o* **mps o**r *he Ia** **g


Montae, Nophemger 13
To Mr. Little:

("Little" is permissaple now, no? Let me no iph ewe prepher some other name in its stet.)

Mie phrent Georgeanne perisht last night phrom let poisoning. 1 thing, also she was not right in the het. I most write to her phamilee. Mie other phrent Tanea tells me this morning that she along with her phamilee are leaphing Nollop to go to the States.

She will transport Georgeanne's remains to the Towgate phamilee. Tanea also wants Pawla—Mannheim's little girl. She pheels Nollop is a wastelant now, no plase 4 a little girl. No plase 4 aneeone 4 that matter. I will not stop her. It is goot to get her awae phrom here.

I hartlee got to no Little Pawla. We might haph mate goot phrents.

I pheel as Georgeanne most haph when epheree-one lepht the willage. Alone. Phorsaagen.

Are ewe leaphing too, Mr. Little? Will Mr. Little soon wipe his hants oph all this tragi-mess? Tern on his heel—tisappear?



Montae, Nophemger 13

Ewe mae repher to me as "Little." I am repherring to miselph that wae now.

To answer the interrogatoree, I haph no plans to leaph this isle. Espeshellee sinse I haph goot reason to remain.

Ewe see, I am worging on Enterprise 32 mie-selph.

As, I hope, are ewe.

In these three son-to-sons that remain—this "last lap" as it were—I thot ewe might appresiate the help.


R. Little


Montae, Nophemger 15
To the Towgate Phamilee:

Please asept mie hartphelt simpathee at this time. Georgeanne passt awae last night phrom let poisoning. She paintet her whole selph phrom het to toe with manee prettee, ornamental hews. She was so resplentent, almost ratiant in repose—the happee, appealing pigments an aesthetit reminter oph her lophlee warm spirit.

She shoot loog smashing 4 the phooneral.

Her remains shoot arriph shortlee.

With all regrets,

Ella Minnow Pea


Tewstae, Nophemger 14

Pharewell. Pharewell. Tho we were not phrents 4 long, I will so miss ewe. Ewe are strong. It is goot that ewe are lepht. We wish ewe well with Enterprise 32. We wish ewe well with ephereething ewe trie to asheeph in these tricing phinal taes. To asheeph 4 Nollop. 4 all we espatriot Nollopians. The Nollopian tiaspora!


Tanea ant phamilee
PS. "H" has phallen. (Hee hee, ho ho. How totallee irrelephant to mie lieph now!)

T** **i** ***wn *o* **mps o**r **e Ia** **g


Wetstae, Nogemger 15

To: Mr. Warren



Mr. Warren,

Please get wort to mie Momma, to mie Pop ant to Mittie ant Tassie tat I am well. I am a persister, an ootlaster. No more trepita-tion 4 me. Onlee tetermination!

Tetermination to ent tee tast I startet. Tee otts are not goot. Tee reason: I am not goot. Manneim was saperior to me. Ant Assistant Tom. Now Manneim is tet, ant Tom is—I no not ware. All I am is present. Positioning, stringing letters togeter. 26 into 32. Ontill tee rime rons owt. Ontill it all stops.

Ontill. . . silense.

Ontill. . . Nollop is no more.

No more.

Alto I no tat Nollop isn't trewlee going awae. Tee reason: I am not going awae. I will learn to tawg in noomerals. I will learn sign langwage—anee-ting to stae in Nollop. I, Mr. Little, ant tee sparse-peoples still strolling Nollop's santee, saltee-air seasite, gaseing at son-rises too glorios to plase into worts—we will possess tease tings alwaes! Nollop troo also in ower memories—teep, teep witin ower soles.

I miss ewe all teeplee. I am sorree to atmit, Momma, tat I am presentlee a snoop! I reat letters—teer, sweet letters ewe wrote to Pop—warm, engaging letters Pop wrote to ewe. Some olt, some new, all ewe gesst no one woot see—ewe pot tem awae so well! I reat tem, ewe see, to gain neetet inspiration.

Teese letters are also mie solass. Mie emollient! Ant I Tang ewe 4 tem.

Insitentallee, ewe are propaplee reating mie last letter to ewe. It is now simplee too tiring to write. To sae watt I most sae in lang­wage one mae onterstant. I am so sorree.


Wetstae, Nopemper 15

G go tonite at mitnite. No more "G." So long "G."


T** **i** ***wn *o* **rnps o**r **e Ia** ***
Letter to me:

Onlee 24 owers remain.


Tiles plop. 8 tiles plomp plomp all in one nite.

Tee ent is near.

So lon A!

So lon E! (Nise to no ewe.)

So lon I!

So lon R! (Are ewe lonesome tonite?)

So lon S!

So lon T!

So lon W!

So lon O twin. (Remnant-twin is all alone now.)

Now onlee 5 remain at 12 o'time. Onlee 5. Onlee 5 remain.

Wear is tat paint?



*** ***** ****n *o* **mp* **** *** l*** ***


No mo Nollop pomp!

No mo Nollop poo poo!

No mo 4 pop/1 moll Nollop looloo poop!

No no no mo plop, plop, plop, plomp!

No mo Nollop!

No, mon, no! O Noooooooo!


. . . Put them in one of the little crates; they'll be easier to convey that way.

Would you mind doing this one last thing for me?

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs?
Thank you.

Be well. Be.

PAck my box with five dozen liquor jugs?

Pack my Box with five dozen liquor jugs?

PaCk my box with five dozen liquor jugs?

Pack my box with five Dozen liquor jugs?

Pack my box with fivE dozEn liquor jugs?

Pack my box with Five dozen liquor jugs?

Pack my box with five dozen liquor juGs?

Pack my box witH five dozen liquor jugs?

Pack my box wIth fIve dozen lIquor jugs?

Pack my box with five dozen liquor Jugs?

PacK my box with five dozen liquor jugs?

Pack my box with five dozen Liquor jugs?

Pack My box with five dozen liquor jugs?

Pack my box with five dozeN liquor jugs?

Pack my bOx with five dOzen liquOr jugs?

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs?

Pack my box with five dozen liQuor jugs?

Pack my box with five dozen liquoR jugs?

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugS?

Pack my box wiTh five dozen liquor jugs?

Pack my box with five dozen liqUor jUgs?

Pack my box with fiVe dozen liquor jugs?

Pack my box With five dozen liquor jugs?

Pack my boX with five dozen liquor jugs?

Pack mY box with five dozen liquor jugs?

Pack my box with five doZen liquor jugs?


Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs

[The Minnow Pea Residence]


Thursday, November 16
Dear Mr. Rederick Lyttle,

Here is the sentence you require, delivered prior to the deadline imposed by the High Council—indeed, with three whole hours to spare.

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.

Please note that this sentence is exactly 32 letters in length. It contains the requisite appearances of each of the 26 letters of the English alphabet. The sentence contains, further, no contractions or arguable proper names. It is, incidentally, neither declarative nor interrogative, but, in fact, is in the imperative mood. It is a com­mand, Mr. Lyttle. An appropriate response to fifteen weeks of High Council orders, mandates, and edictal behests.

I must inform you that I did not come up with the sentence myself. The credit should actually go to my father Amos Minnow Pea. If, indeed, credit is due. I maintain that because the sentence was created unintentionally, in the course of a quickly penned farewell letter to my mother and me, Pop should not own responsi­bility. Nor should anyone. Or, perhaps, all of us.

And this is why I venture to tell you the truth of its genesis, risk­ing, of course, a strict interpretation of your challenge. I venture so, for this reason, Mr. Lyttle: any one of us could have come up with such a sentence. We are, when it comes right down to it, all of us: mere monkeys at typewriters. Like Nollop. Nollop, low-order pri­mate elevated to high-order ecclesiastical primate, elevated still fur­ther in these darkest last days to ultimate prime A grade superior being. For doing that which my father did without thinking. Think about it.

Truly yours,

Ella Minnow Pea


Thursday, November 16

(Day One of the New Order)
Dear Miss Minnow Pea:

On behalf of the High Council, I accept your sentence. All rele­vant statutes have been rescinded. Please join me at your earliest convenience for tea in my office. I trust that your friend Tom, after having been successfully flushed out, will accompany you.


Rederick Lyttle


Friday, November 17

(Day Two of the New Order)
Dear Mum, Pop, Mittie, and dear cousin Tassie,

It is over. You may all come home. Mr. Lyttle, on behalf of the High Council, has accepted my sentence—the thirty-two letter sentence which I proffered three hours prior to deadline. The coun­cil members assembled to read it, assembled in one great bug-eyed clump to read it aloud—over and over—then proceeded to exam­ine it most carefully, counting each letter, identifying and pro­nouncing each grapheme in proper alphabetical sequence, and finally proclaiming the sentence an undeniable miracle.

It is not a miracle. It is an accident. Pure happenstance. Perhaps just as happenstantial in its creation as was the fox/dog sentence. I have strong reason to believe this. Let me tell you why.

This morning Mr. Lyttle took Tom (my new friend—I cannot wait for you to meet him; the intense blue of his eyes gives me occa­sional shudders!) and me down into the vault beneath the national library. Held in climate-controlled perpetuity are several hundred linear feet of government records and historical documents, includ­ing the original Island Compact which we have all gazed upon in its infrequent public displays, along with a sizeable collection of Mr. Nevin Nollop's personal papers and most private effects. I asked Mr. Lyttle why all of this was spared in the wake of the antialphabetical edicts which had rendered to dust and ash virtually everything else found in print upon this island. It seems that efforts were indeed underway to find masons to seal off the vault, entombing it behind a solid brick wall, burying as unintended time capsule, these immurement-destined remnants of a time when discourse came without stricture—without posthumous Nollopian challenges-cum-curses.

Among those papers Tom and I discovered a book—an amply illustrated children's storybook with Nollop's name scrawled in childlike letters upon the title page. The book told the tale of a dog who does not wish to participate in a fox hunt. A lazy dog who would go so far as to permit a fleet fox to leap directly overhead rather than lift a single paw to pursue him. In his juvenile hand Nollop had kid-crabbed the following: "Oh you lazy dog! The brown fox is so quick and you are so lazy. Bad dog! Bad dog!"

Of course, there are those who believe that Nollop was too stu­pid to concoct the national sentence from even these obvious ele­ments. It could very well be that someone else wrote it, and he took full credit. I would not put it past him.

All the Council members save Lyttle have tendered their resig­nations. Immediately thereafter Harton Mangrove attempted sui­cide with his necktie. It was a clumsy attempt and quickly foiled. Following our excursion to the vault, Lyttle, Tom and I proceeded to the cenotaph, climbed to the top, and with sledgehammers in hand, initiated, in earnest, an act of destructive revisionism. Others among the few of us still left on the island jubilantly joined in. There followed a celebratory bonfire and weenie roast. We exer­cised our newly liberated vocabularies until dawn.

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. He was left stunned on his kitchen floor by his wife and three young sons who were late for their seven a.m. slinkoff for Florida where they would soon be taking up permanent residency. Reports are in conflict as to what Mangrove mumbled as he lay dazed upon the floor, painfully clutching his lumpy head. One witness attested to the following: "I am floundering upon the shoals of despair, forsaken by the Great and Powerful Nollop!" Another heard simply, "Somebody get me a headache powder. I think I juggled my brains!"

There were some among the survivors who wanted to erect a monument to me; others thought Pop, as the actual creator of the sentence that was to serve as vehicle for our emancipation, deserv­ing of all the national approbation. I suggested that neither of us was an appropriate candidate given the fortuity of the sentence's conception. But this fact does not preclude the erection of some other concrete memorial to those who lost life, property, strips of dorsal epidermis, and/or sanity to the tyranny of the last four months. I suggested, further, that the following might be sculpted: a large box filled with sixty moonshine jugs—piled high, toppling over, corks popping, liquor flowing. Disorder to match the clutter and chaos of our marvelous language. Words upon words, piled high, toppling over, thoughts popping, correspondence and con­versation overflowing.

And upon the bandiford beneath the sculpture, writ not on tiles, but chiseled deeply into the marble fa9ade, the following sen­tence nineteen letters in length, containing a mere ten different graphemes of the English alphabet:

"Dead dogs tell no tails."

And by deliberately keeping the word "tails" frustratingly mis­homonymized—we offer this guarantee: that our descendants will never have reason to exalt this sentence beyond simple sentience.


I miss you all, and cannot wait to see you again.


Ella Minnow Pea


Monday, November 20
Dear Doug,

It's after the fact, obviously, but we're all still curious to know what you and your fellow cybergeeks might have been able to come up with. Care to give it a shot? By way of reminder, your mission, should you choose to accept it:

Shortest possible sentence containing all twenty-six letters of the alphabet. Words in English, and in current usage, please. I'll accept proper names in a pinch, if they don't seem Martian.
Best wishes,

Nate ("the Scribbler") Warren




Wednesday, November 22
Dear Nate,

We have come up with four sentences for your reading pleasure, each equal to or less than 32 letters in length. Allowing for, thank you, sir, the use of proper names, the computer succeeded in creat­ing a sentence exactly twenty-six letters in length, that is—need I say it—without repetition of a single letter. It follows:

J.Q. Vandz struck my big fox whelp.
The others we are pleased to list below:
Quick zephyrs blow, vexing daft Jim. (29)

Few quips galvanized the mock jury box. (32)

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs. (32)
I hope this has been of some help to you. What, by the way, was the sentence that brought the High Council to its senses (or shall we say, to its knees)? We're all quite curious to know.

Doug (Cyberhead) Watts


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