YOU MIGHT SAY “WOW,” BUT YOU SHOULDN’T SAY “GREAT” ABOUT THIS BOOK

NOTE: Part of the joy of retirement is both the learning and the sharing of what I call “fascinations.” Sometimes those fascinations are things I knew before retirement. Sometimes the information is fascinating, fun and new to me. This week I give to you four fascinating, entertaining, and trivial fascinations. I hope you enjoy them.


Take a look at this paragraph from a 1939 novel.

Read it carefully.

Branton Hills was a small town in a rich agricultural district; and having many a possibility for growth. But, through a sort of smug satisfaction with conditions of long ago, had no thought of improving such important adjuncts as roads; putting up public buildings, nor laying out parks; in fact a dormant, slowly dying community. So satisfactory was its status that it had no form of transportation to surrounding towns but by railroad, or “old Dobbin.” Now, any town thus isolating its inhabitants, will invariably find this big, busy world passing it by; glancing at it, curiously, as at an odd animal at a circus; and, you will find, caring not a whit about its condition. Naturally, a town should grow. You can look upon it as a child; which, through natural conditions, should attain manhood; and add to its surrounding thriving districts its products of farm, shop, or factory. It should show a spirit of association with surrounding towns; crawl out of its lair, and find how backward it is.

Notice anything different about it?

Maybe that the writing is a bit stilted. Also, some of the phrasing is a tad awkward.

But nope, those aren’t it. Look more closely.

The passage is from a 50,000 word novel titled “Gadsby,” written by an author named Ernest Vincent Wright. The plot revolves around the dying fictional city of Branton Hills, which is revitalized as a result of the efforts of protagonist John Gadsby and a youth group he organizes.

The novel is also a lipogram, meaning that the entire book does not include a single word containing the letter “e.” Yep, I know you went back and looked at that paragraph. See…not an “e” in sight.

You can take a look at a pdf of the entire novel here: http://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/Gadsby-by-Ernest-Vincent-Wright.pdf.

And if you think writing the book was a difficult task, think again. It’s not as hard as you think. After all, the last two sentences you just read did not use a single “e.”

You learn new things every day, even when you’re retired.

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