Sunday, 21 July 2013
Did you ever see the same book in three more different covers and, sure enough, my charity shop find is the least attractive one at the top. If you squint at the green one, which was the original hardback, you can just about make out that this is a progressively lipogrammatic epistolary fable ...
Which it is. But it's also my best summer read this year.
The quirky cover with the fox encapsulates the story. On an island off the coast of South Carolina - that declared its independence from America in the 19th century - the islanders revere Nevin Nollop, author of the famous pangram The quick brown fox etc etc
(Now don't get sidetracked Googling for Nevin Nollop. I already did. He didn't really exist. He's a fictional character.)
But when the lazy dog's Z falls from Nollop's monument, the island's rulers see this as a sign that Z should be outlawed from all written and spoken language.
Unfortunately, the cement has perished, so other letters soon start tumbling out of the language.
Which is when the lipogrammatic epistolist gets really inventive.
When I saw this on the shelf in the charity shop, I only picked it up because I had a dim and distant memory that it was one of Cornflower's book group choices a couple of years ago. It sounded too whimsical for me, and it wasn't in the library, so I gave it a miss. I was wrong. It's clever, original and anybody who loves word games, Scrabble or crosswords will love it.