I’m going to a live taping of NPR’s puzzle, trivia, and games show Ask Me Another, which is a lot of fun to listen to. You could check a box saying that you’re open to being a contestant, and I received an email with a (super long but really fun and humbling) quiz that runs the gamut of questions. I’m submitting it today, but wanted to share question 17 and my answer, because I found it extra fun. And, I learned something new about writing!
17. A lipogram is a written work in which a particular letter or group of letters is intentionally omitted. For example, Ernest Wright wrote his 1939 novel “Gadsby” without the letter “e”…his book was 50,000 words long! With that in mind, write us a paragraph or two without using the letter “i”. Funny, clever, and coherent is worth as much as length; please don’t submit more than 200 words.
You really want me to author prose sans the letter used to pronoun myself? Nor can be the present act of “to do” or “to become” or “to eat”? How to emerge undead from such a gross scheme! Woe! Me – a lover of taxes and people and the murky world of 501(c)(3)s; not a poet nor a creator of the art of words – can the task even be completed? Gadsby was from a place of true talent, of art, of metaphor, of grace unparalleled by any words placed here. Text that cannot fully embrace our lofty 26-letter language (forget of course gchat speak) challenges and stresses, yet, too, has unprecedented beauty to be embraced regardless of the urge to run away.
And with that, the royal we concludes our rant.