April 5, 2012

E is for A Void

A Void is a 300-page French novel (titled La Disparition in French) that never once employs the letter "E"

I really admire the translator who put this into English. I tried this in English class once, just 100 words, and it was HARD. That's why my A-Z post today is a tribute to the most used letter in the English alphabet.

Below is the first few opening paragraphs from A Void:


Which at first calls to mind a probably familiar story of a drunk man waking up  with his brain in a whirl

Incurably insomniac, Anton Vowl turns on a light. According to his watch it’s only 12.20. With a loud and languorous sigh Vowl sits up, stuffs a pillow at his back, draws his quilt up around his chin, picks up his whodunit and idly scans a paragraph or  two; but, judging by its plot impossibly difficult to follow in his condition, its vocabulary too whimsically multisyllabic for comfort, throws it away in disgust.
            Padding into his bathroom, Vowl dabs at his brow and throat with a damp cloth.
            It’s a soft, warm night and his blood is racing through his body. And indistinct murmur wafts up to his third-floor flat Far off, a church clock starts chiming – a chiming as mournful as a last post, as an air-raid alarm, as and SOS signal from a sinking ship. And in his own vicinity, a faint lapping sound informs him that a small craft is at that instant navigating a narrow canal.

For more fun with writing challenges, try Googling “Oulipo.”


  1. I can't imagine the work that went in to writing without using "e"... and the excerpt is so full of description, too!

  2. Yeah...I'm definitely going to be giving this a read. I was expecting something akin to writing a whole story, and then just removing all instances of the letter "e." Something like: "Did you s that nw movi last wknd?" This is much stranger and interesting.

  3. I have enough trouble with overusing a word. I can't imagine not using a letter as vital as "e" for an entire book.

  4. Holy crap! I was reading along and was thinking "there has got to be an "e" and I'm gonna find it". Nope, not a one. That fun too! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Oh, my heck. It even looks odd--naked--without any e's.

  6. While I applaud the idea I don't know if I could read a Whole story like that. The novelty would wear off and it would have to be able to move the story along instead of just dancing around.

  7. holy moly, no E's??? What has the E ever done to the writer?

    Greetings from the A to Z trail,
    Sylvia @ Playful Creative

  8. Wow, that's impressive. I could see MAYBE being able to sustain that for a short story, but not an entire novel. I think the real killer would be 'the' - that word is everywhere.

    For a writing class I once wrote a story that only used one-syllable words. It was a fun exercise, but the story read a little stilted.

    Continued success with the A to Z challenge,

  9. This reminds me about that post I made about Gadsby - how the heck do they do it?


  10. That is very cool in a trivial pursuit type way. But I cannot live w/o my favorite vowel.
    *hugs e to chest*

  11. Ouch! That is one serious challenge!

  12. Wow how trippy. That would drive me crazy....er.