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Sunday, August 04, 2002 AD
Zeb's happy cow gave quarts of jinxed milk.
That is my briefest attempt thus far at creating a pangram. My example contains 34 letters--one less than "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." That famous line was penned, according to the delightful novel Ella Minnow Pea, by one Nevin Nollop, honored native son of a little island country off the coast of South Carolina formerly known as Utopianna but renamed Nollop after the aforementioned Nevin in 1904.

The novel, written by Mark Dunn (a playwright I've never heard of before) and borrowed from Sophia Prester (a pseudonymous writer of fan fiction and knitter of my favorite pair of mittens), is "a progressively lipogrammatic epistolary fable." (Unless you buy the upcoming paperback version, in which case it's just "a novel in letters," which isn't nearly as interesting a subtitle if you ask me.) Ella Minnow Pea takes place during a dreadful season when the tiles bearing the letters of Nevin's famous sentence begin to fall from his monument. The Nollopian High Council read into this occurrence a portent that the islanders must cease to use each fallen letter in either speech or writing upon penalty of a public dressing-down for a first offense, a choice between flogging or time in the headstock for a second offense, and banishment for a third offense. Some islanders embrace the bizarre new law with fundamentalistic fervor, some reluctantly acquiesce, some try and fail and suffer the consequences, and a brave few choose to fight for their liberty...not to mention their Z's, Q's, J's and D's. In this last category are those whose dramatic public gestures get them quickly booted to the U.S. mainland and those, the title character amongst them, who strike a deal with the High Council: If anyone can compose a pangrammatic sentence of a mere 32 letters, the leaders will acknowledge that the revered Nevin might not be directing their actions from the grave, after all, and might even be somewhat less than worthy of their cultic zeal.

The 200-page volume is thus far not only sweetening my word tooth with chocolatelike neologistic synonymography, but also indulging my penchant for seeing hermeneutical nincompoopery pooh-poohed. I'll let y'all know if I still like it once I'm done with the second half.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 8/04/2002 04:27:00 PM • Permalink

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