Ah, the pun of saying it’s an epistolary novel, both in the sense that it’s about letters and written in the forms of letters i.e. correspondence.
“Pangram, n. a phrase, sentence or verse composed of all the letters of the alphabet: a quirky novel with pages of zany jumbled lexicon.” —> Oh. This is a good one.
Page 3: What’s the population of this little island of Nollop?
Page 4: “I must own that we were quite ataken by the Council’s initial reaction to the incident, most of us regarding it as mere happenstance. The Council, on the other hand, sought with leapdash urgency to grasp sign and signal from the loss, and having offered themselves several possible explanations, retired with all dispatch to closed-door chambers for purpose of solemn debate and disposition.” —> Lol sounds like a town council. Especially a superstitious one, from the sounds of it?
Page 5: Lol now I wanna know this Nevin Nollop’s supposed biography.
Page 6: Empyrean: relating to heaven or the sky.
Page 7: “What, my dearest Tassie, have we lost? Very little.” —> Uh oh. This is a dangerous game, Ella.
Page 9: Lucubrating: studying, meditating.
Page 9: “I am bezide myself!” —> Hahah.
Page 9: “My friend Rachalle, who inherited our small village library with the passing of Mrs. Redfern, reminds me that with the prohibition, the reading of all books containing the unfortunate letter will have to be outlawed as well.” —> Oh good point. Also, what about people with Z in their names? What are they supposed to do?
Page 12: Uh oh. Ella’s father used a Z in this letter.
Page 17: “Many are forbidden by their parents to discuss the matter at home, so great is the fear of where such discussion may lead.” —> Hm. Now this is interesting.
Page 18: “It is the bees that have gotten poor Mr. Gregory into trouble. For how does one describe such creatures without use of a certain outlawed letter as a matter of course.” —> Oh lol. Very true. I wonder if this dude will be the first person sentenced to death.
Page 32: “and while I felt somewhat the foreigner (My cousins say that I speak in a ‘funny,’ overly formal way, whatever this means.), I think how lovely it would be to live across the channel” —> Haha I thought this too. I was surprised by how stiff the language sounded.
Page 40: “Dear Miss Purcy, We are sorry that the performance of our civic duty has resulted in distress to your mother.” —> Doesn’t this just sum it all up. Civic duty, right.
Page 48: It’s interesting how we didn’t get any background for Council politics or history or anything, but through their approach to the cenotaph and their response to what they consider to be crimes with public flogging. That really tells you everything you need to know. Oh, and also the whole thing about Nollop being a god and obeying his divine messages as civic duty.
Page 48: Hahahah wait so their crime was saying “quack quack” while holding Quaker Oats? That’s fucking funny.
Page 49: “’please trundle us without delay from this island and cringe and cowardice, for we no longer with to belong to such a despicable confederacy of spinal-defectives.’” —> Hahaha this is amazing.
Page 49: “A first meeting to be held in our home a week from tomorrow under the guise of Pop’s twice-monthly poker game. To plot and plan our insurrection—our nascent underground movement to restore a full twenty-six letter alphabet to the people—deserving or not—of this, our presently polluted island home!” —> Yessssss.
Page 50: “Chemists here in Georgia who have obtained smuggled chips from the two earlier fallen tiles have just completed an exhaustive battery of chemical analyses on the fixative that has held the tiles in place for the last hundred years. Their assessment is that the glue—a strange compound not familiar to them—glue which also oddly, and we now know impractically served as a substitute for simple, durable cement—has calcified to the point of ineffectual granule and powder. Within months, perhaps even weeks, all of the tiles currently mounted on the cenotaph will become similarly loosened and fall to the ground. The chemists doubt that within a year’s time there will be even a single tile left affixed to the monument. Should your council continue along its present course, the outcome will be too dire even to contemplate. Here I am telling you nothing you don’t already know.” —> Oooooh. Also yeah, lol, that last sentence is true for readers too. But here we go!
Page 44. “4. His will be done.” —> Loooool Jesus.
Page 59: “Note that I have no interest in violating your Island Council’s three recent statutes regarding alphabetical elision, and so we will continue to refer to the vessels as, simply, vessels.” —> What word was he going to use initially?
Page 68: “Funny, isn’t it, dear Cousin, to have a meeting, and an enthusiastically attended one at that—in which nothing gets discussed?” —> Lol oh do you mean every meeting?
Page 74: “But we were lucky in that when such a misspeak took place, there were no ears pressing themselves against the portals or fenesters to overhear.” —> You say that now….
Page 76: “The wine. Plus the loss of that grammatical unifier. It is all too much.” —> Aww haha. I can’t help but laugh, but it is dire.
Page 77: No! Gwenette used a “d” in this letter, with “utterly, wholly diminished!”
Page 77: Oh wait, she acknowledged it and said she would show it to the town council. Fuck.
Page 78: “Ours continues to be a free, open society.” —> Lol uh.
Page 83: “Nollop when he was alive was pure charlatan. A veritable con man. Phenomenally successful in pulling the wool over the eyes of 35,000 naivetes, ripe for the pulling.” —> So the island of Nollop’s population is 35,000, I take it.
Page 86: “I cannot see how, given the loss of one letter more, I will be able to remain among those I love, for surely will I misstep. So I have chosen to stop talking, to stop writing altogether.” —> Ughhh this is brutal.
Page 89: “However, the High Council asks that we cut usage of the letter by twenty-five percent. I am curious to know how they plan to police this.” —> Lol seriously.
Page 94: “‘You’ve given me the scientific reason for why the tiles are falling, Mr. Warren. But might not Nollop be working through the science? Have you ever thought of this? The science, in point of fact, actually serving his specific purpose.’” —> Oh for fuck’s sake.
Page 100: Ah so now the High Council is confiscating the property of those who have been expelled. Classy. Also the farther I read in this book the more eerie comparisons there are to the Armenian Genocide (or any genocide, but that one’s in my head). It’s bold, I know, but this government is acting in similar ways to the Turkish government.
Page 104: Wait but how are they going to be able to come up with a sentence without using the letters that have been banned? Wouldn’t they still get in trouble for sending the letters back and forth even if it were under the auspices of this sentence challenge?
Page 105: Ohhh wait, that’s why are sending the letters through people seven years old or younger. Because it’s not forbidden for that age.
Page 105: Lol they should all just commit to learning a foreign language with a completely different alphabet and then just start speaking that language normally to each other.
Page 109: Nate is writing Tassie that he is worried “if I am to be stolen from this Isle, stolen from you,” but he’s from Georgia. Wouldn’t there be some sort of extradition issue or some matter of international law that would more accurately apply to him?
Page 114: Piscimonger. Haha. That’s a great way to rewrite fishmonger.
Page 115: Ugh, fuckin’ Georgeanne Towgate. I hope she gets sentenced to death over this.
Page 117: “This is an important point; recently, several on their way to Pier Seven (then on to the States), wrote parting letters without employing the necessary caution with respect to current alphabetical restrictions, only to have the recipients themselves brought up on charges!” —> I was wondering about this. That sucks.
Page 117: “There have been reports that Nollop expatriates are having a rough time in the States, are very much ‘at sea’ in American society, in cultural isolation as it were—unable to melt into the proverbial American melting pot.” —> How so? What are the major cultural differences that inhibit this?
Page 125: “That isn’t all: the Council has put crepuscular-to-auroric house arrest upon all Nollop civilians not in league with the cult.” —> First of all, what the fuck is this shit. Second of all, I really like this alternative way of saying sundown to sunup.
Page 126: “I wrote the letters. The ones with the threats. Were anyone to learn this, it will mean m ruin, perhaps even my execution.” —> Oh no, Tassie.
Page 132: Isn’t Amos creating a huge danger for his family by writing this letter? They just said that recipients can get in trouble, so it seems reckless and careless just because Amos is going away for him to write everything again in letters to Gwenette and Ella.
Page 151: “The others who remain on this isle plow their energies into hunting aliments, into maintaining shelter in these unsure, austere times. As a people, we Nollopians now seem to exist only elementally. Outright primals we are now!” —> I never considered this angle, that the less they have writing and speech, the more primal they become, the less language-based their culture becomes.
Page 157: “We help one another now, agree? I say I am sorry; Mittie says it is all right. Mittie assents to this, yes? Please say we are mates. Amigas. Say, please, that we are womanpals. I so greatly wish to hear these terms!” —> Jesus, Georgeanne, get a grip. You’re lucky Mittie is nice and forgiving to you, because I don’t know if I would be.
Page 159: I swear to god, if Georgeanne Towgate joins Enterprise 32 and is the one who comes up with the successful sentence, I’ll shit myself.
Page 162: Oh no, here comes the phonetic spelling. Also loling because clearly the High Council knows it’s a problem not to be able to communicate this way which is why they are finding loopholes in this weird dumb religion they’ve concocted.
Page 163: “PS. I was apowt to post this letter when I hear: 3 more tiles plommet: a ’T,’ an ‘R,’ an ‘H.’ Another ’T’ remains in plase. Another ‘R’ ant another ‘H’ as well. Ella ma wish to no, tho, that essept phor ‘O’ there are no more twins. The remaining letters are all singletons.” —> Oh no. Here we go.
Page 168: Ugh why is Ella being so diplomatic and polite in this letter to R. Lyttle? He may be the so-called nice member of the council, but he’s still a member of it. Don’t befriend him.
Page 175: “Georgeanne is phery ill with let poisoning. There is a possipility that she may not last the night.” —> Lol idiot. Maybe you shouldn’t have painted yout entire body and contaminated yourself, just as some weird cathartic release for a crisis you were complicit in.
Page 182: Amazing that most of their names have remained intact. I have a feeling leaving Ella Minnow Pea’s name alone was purposeful, but it’s powerful noticing that at the end of her letters.
Page 185: “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.” —> Yeah, see, then why didn’t you start this when it started happening right away?
Page 195: Lol what the fuck is happening on this page.
Page 197: “Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.” —> They did it! I mean, obviously this was going to happen. But still! They did it!
Page 199: “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.” —> Fuckkkkk I didn’t even notice that the first time around. This is so, so clever.
Page 199: “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.” —> Oh shit u right.
Page 2-2: “There followed a celebratory bonfire and weenie roast. We exercised our newly liberated vocabularies until dawn.” —> Good for all of them.
Page 203: “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.” —> Oooh I love this as a piece of art. Except it should be moonshine jugs overflowing with letters themselves; sculpt letters to come out of the openings of the jugs.
Page 205: No way. The AI program in the U.S. that Enterprise 32 decided not to go with also came up with the same sentence. And the lead guy behind it just asked what was the sentence that won. Incredible.
Page 205: Omg and that’s the last page? That was the perfect way to end it.