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SUMMER 2000 $3.00

The IRREANTUM Interview:

Dean Hughes
Children of the Promise author
Mormon Cinema Is Born with Gods Army
Fiction by Todd Robert Petersen and Christopher K. Bigelow
Novel excerpt by Margaret Young and Darius Gray
Reviews of Anne Perrys Tathea, Terry Tempest Williamss Leap, and
Benson Parkinsons Into the Field
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Christopher K. Bigelow . . . . . .Comanaging editor Jonathan Langford . . . .AML-List Highlights editor

Benson Parkinson . . . . . . . . . .Comanaging editor Kent Larsen . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Literary news editor
Tory Anderson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Fiction editor Jana Bouck Remy . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Review editor
Susan Barnson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Photographer Edgar C. Snow Jr. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Essay editor
Harlow Clark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Poetry editor


Marilyn Brown . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .President Scott Bronson

Cherry Silver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .President-elect Gideon Burton
John Bennion . . . . . . . .Academic conference chair Cory Maxwell
Tessa Meyer Santiago
Carol Quist


Lavina Fielding Anderson . . . . .Proceedings editor Henry Miles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Treasurer

Christopher K. Bigelow . . . . . . . .Magazine editor Carol Clark Ottesen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Secretary
Jonathan Langford . . . . . . . .AML-List moderator Scott Parkin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Awards chair

IRREANTUM is published four times a year by the Association for endorsement by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Mormon Letters (AML), 1925 Terrace Drive, Orem, UT 84097, IRREANTUM welcomes unsolicited essays, reviews, fiction, poet-
(801) 226-5585. Membership in the AML is $20 for one year, ry, and other manuscripts, and we invite letters intended for publi-
which includes an IRREANTUM subscription. Subscriptions to cation. Please submit all manuscripts and queries to
IRREANTUM may be purchased separately from AML membership <>. If you do not have access to e-mail, you may
for $12 per year, and single copies are $4 (postpaid). Advertising mail your text on a floppy disk to IRREANTUM Magazine, c/o AML,
rates begin at $50 for a full page. The AML is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) 1925 Terrace Drive, Orem, UT 84097. Except for letters to the edi-
organization, so contributions of any amount are tax deductible tor, submissions in other than electronic format are discouraged.
and gratefully accepted. Views expressed in IRREANTUM do not nec- Upon specific request to <>, we will send authors
essarily reflect the opinions of the editors or of AML board mem- two complimentary copies of the issue in which their work appears.
bers, and this magazine has no official connection with nor
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Summer 2000 Volume 2, Number 2


Letters to the Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 April 1996, Sharlee Mullins Glenn . . . . . . . . . .37
Blood and Milk, Sharlee Mullins Glenn . . . . . .38
Editorial: A Community of Mormon Literature . .5 Gold Time, Jolayne Call . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38
Jonathan D. Langford
Broken Pansy, Mildred Barthel . . . . . . . . . . . .39
You Know Scent of Beauty, Mildred Barthel . .39
News of the Association for Mormon Letters . . .6
Woman with Bound Feet, Carol Clark Ottesen . .40
The Sweet Potato Man, Carol Clark Ottesen . .40
The IRREANTUM Interview: Dean Hughes . . . . .8
The Crow at 4:00 A.M., Carol Clark Ottesen . .40
Heat, Marilyn Brown . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
Rx, Michael Collings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
All Is Well in Zion?
Publishing among the Gentiles Reviews
John Bennion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Tathea, Anne Perry
Cookies for the World Reviewed by Melissa Proffitt . . . . . . . . . . . . .42
Why I Write Childrens Books Response by Eric A. Eliason . . . . . . . . . . . . .44
Sharlee Mullins Glenn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 Gods Army, Richard Dutcher
Reviewed by Eric D. Snider . . . . . . . . . . . . .47
Leap, Terry Tempest Williams
Fiction Reviewed by Jana Bouck Remy . . . . . . . . . . .49
Long after Dark Into the Field, Benson Parkinson
Todd Robert Petersen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 Reviewed by Neal W. Kramer . . . . . . . . . . . .50
Daughters of Hysteria Brief Notices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52
Christopher K. Bigelow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
The Bond of Love Mormon Literary Scene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53
Margaret Young and Darius Gray . . . . . . . .33
AML-List Highlights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65
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L E T T E R S Editorial response: While Levi Peterson is well with-

in the spectrum of Mormon literature that
IRREANTUM welcomes letters addressing anything IRREANTUM covers, the magazine is also committed to
related to the magazine or Mormon literature in gen- the majority audience and to the orthodox, up to and
eral. Unless the writer requests otherwise, all letters will including the literary dimensions of scripture itself. As
be considered for publication. Please include your the translation of the name IRREANTUM suggests, the
hometown and state after your name. Letters may be magazine covers the entire body of literature by, for,
edited for length or clarity. Send letters to and about Mormons, the becalmed as well as the
<> or IRREANTUM Magazine, c/o stormy. As we share passage together on this little sta-
AML, 1925 Terrace Drive, Orem, UT 84097. pled ship, we hope people of different literary tastes and
values can consider each others viewpoints with respect
I hope your magazine has chosen as its audience and tolerance, avoiding the polarization that so easily
people who are not served by the content and creeps into cultures arising from a religious base.
approach of texts like Sunstone or authors like Levi
Peterson. You quoted the Ostlings as saying that Mormons
I subscribed to Sunstone for many years. I read are generally absent from the highest levels of
many Levi Peterson stories. Some of what I read had achievement in the humanities [Why
worth. But much of it came from the view of a per- IRREANTUM, Winter 19992000]. Its not a prob-
son on the edge of faith, not the center. Thats not lem of lack of achievement; its lack of recognition.
necessarily a bad thing. But what Ive noticed is that In Salt Lake City, when the Tabernacle was first
a lot of what is offered as the literature of Zion is completed on Temple Square, it was a technological
in reality only the literature of a small part of Zion. marvel of the highest orderbut who saw it? Only
Weyland, Lund, etc. are pushed aside. Their stories the people already there, in Utah. Who sees or hears
are too popular to be anything but schlock. our modern day achievements? Only the people
But the majority of Zion looks for something who want to hear it, those already in the Church or
more entertaining, more wholesome, and more cen- already interested in it.
tered in faith. How do I know that? Supply and In my case a major reason I dont support more
demand. Sales. LDS authors is because I dont know who they are. I
Weyland, Lund, etc. speak to them, and they sell found out that Orson Scott Card is LDS by accident,
because the majority of the Saints want that. What and the only other LDS author not a General
they serve is not Ensign approved, but literature that Authority that I could name is Jack Weyland. Im in
builds the soul and entertains. A literature that Ohio. Unless you have literary relatives in the West,
makes you feel not skepticism but sympathetic joy, you dont hear about other authors. Another obstacle
love, pain, fear, and humor. is the fact that libraries here dont carry these authors.
I hope youve chosen to target the majority audi- I could send for the books if I knew their names.
ence. If you havent, Im sure youll find some audi- There is one last point, perhaps more valid than
ence for your publication. But Ive been waiting for youd expect: we have four children and do not have
a periodical to fill my belly for a long time, and all disposable cash to invest in any books we dont
I keep getting is a bitter skeptic dish, served up with already know. I get fun reading material at yard
the attitude that its the good stuff if I only had the sales. The only Mormon books Ive found, besides
brain to see it. the Book of Mormon, are A Marvelous Work and a
John Brown Wonder and The Discourses of Brigham Youngnot
Columbus, Ohio exactly novels!
Melinda L. Ambrose
Akron, Ohio

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Wanted: Help for IRREANTUM best literary writing is to broaden and deepen that
caring. Within a Mormon context, literature can be
IRREANTUM seeks volunteer staff members in sev- seen as practice for eternity: creating worlds, and
eral areas: caring about what happens in them. Literature aris-
An art director to coordinate photos and illus- es out of communities, and it creates communities
trations and execute desktop publishing for each as well.
issue. We speak of a community of Mormon letters, but
A publisher to help advertisers understand and its hard to point to any specific organization or
serve our readers. group and say, There, thats them; this is who we
A marketer to get the magazine into as many mean. Oh, sure, most of us can name a number of
peoples hands as possible. Mormon writers: Orson Scott Card, Margaret
Editors to help find and prepare the best liter- Young, Levi Peterson, Gerald Lund. Each of us like-
ary material available. ly knows at least one reader of Mormon literature,
If you are interested in making a contribution to or we wouldnt ourselves be reading this magazine.
imaginative Mormon literature, contact co-manag- But its a fragmentary and diffuse community, if
ing editors Chris Bigelow <> and community it is. Centered geographically and his-
Benson Parkinson <>. torically in the old-line Mormon settlement country
around Utah, it nevertheless clearly extends beyond
any one region, lifestyle, literary genre or style, or
E D I T O R I A L perspective. Mormons are writing science fiction,
fantasy, essays, romance, literary fiction, drama,
A Community of Mormon Literature pageants, poems, detective stories, humor, tragedy,
By Jonathan D. Langford comedy, and satire for Mormon and for mainstream
audiences, orthodox and liberal, frothy and didac-
Most of the time we think of reading and writing tic. Non-Mormons are getting into the act too,
as individual, not social, activitiessolitary vices writing literature across many genres and approach-
(or virtues). Reading on the bus or subway notwith- es that features Mormon characters, culture, and
standing, few of us seek out the company of others themes. Readers both Mormon and non-Mormon
when its time to curl up with a good book. Nor do are discovering every variety of Mormon literature
we typically organize bring-your-own-laptop parties in increasing numbers. What possible meaning can
where we can more companionably labor over our there be in any label thats applied to such a diverse
literary masterpieces. Linguists may tell us that lan- group?
guage is innately social, but our experiences with lit- The best answer I know is practical rather than
erature generally are not. conceptual. For four years, Ive been a member of
At least, not on the surface. Examined at a deep- AML-List, an e-mail group dedicated to discussion
er level, it seems evident that while only one reader of Mormon letters in all its varietieswhich, with
or writer may engage with a text at any given 250 or so current members, embraces all the cate-
moment, literature itself is a fundamentally com- gories listed above and more. Yet despite this diver-
munal enterprise. What, after all, is the act of read- sity of backgrounds and interests, AML-List func-
ing, if not a conversation with the author? What is tions as more than a source of information and a
the act of writing, if not an ongoing exchange with forum for spouting opinions. Its become a place for
others who have gone beforeand an imagined act writers, readers, scholars, and critics to come togeth-
of sharing with future readers? er, exchange views, argue passionately about some
At heart, I would argue that literature arises out of the things that matter most to us, encourage,
of charitythat we read and write because we care inspire, convince, and be convinced. Its a force in
about each other, and that the impact of most of the Mormon letters, with numerous creative and criti-

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cal offshoots. At least two significant works of LDS want to change this readers assessment, you may
literature appeared in large part on AML-List before find yourself making all kinds of sacrifices. At least
they appeared in print: Feasting on the Word: The this was the opinion of probably the largest group of
Literary Testimony of the Book of Mormon, by respondents on AML-List this past quarter to the
Richard Dilworth Rust (Deseret Book, 1997), and discussion of family and art. Mormons who faith-
Of Curious Workmanship: Musings on Things fully dedicate their time to family and church find
Mormon, by Edgar Snow (Signature Books, 1999). it impossible to devote the energy it takes to pro-
The AML-List website ( duce great art.
features nearly 350 book reviews related to The increased quality of our art, however, still
Mormon literature, representing five years of seems to be happening. Recently, the success of
thoughtful and spirited commentary by list mem- Gods Army put Mormon cinema on the map. And
bers. In short, AML-List is already a miniature ver- the list of national awards to Kenny Kemps film
sion of what such a community might be. Fedora says hes getting it right. The plays of Marvin
IRREANTUM is founded on the premise that the Payne and Eric Samuelsen offer interesting work
potential for a community of Mormon letters within parameters that the Church and BYU can
extends far beyond the subscribership of AML-List accept. Scott Cards work looms. Our conversations
or the membership of its sponsoring organization, about the work of modern Mormon artists are
the Association for Mormon Letters. We believe increasingly informative and lively: the street paint-
theres a hunger out there that isnt being satisfied: ing of Julie Kirk, Andrew Halls revealing synopsis
not only to read and write Mormon literature, but of the web magazines, and more.
to talk and think about it, learn more about the In the meantime, while there are a few successes,
people who write it and the companies that publish the rest of us who are relatively unknown and strug-
it, read what other people think about whats good gling to find that economic base in which we may
and whats notand why. IRREANTUM, with its mix practice our talents have found a place to be frus-
of poetry, fiction, reviews, essays, interviews, pub- trated or expressive on AML-List. Skip Hamilton
lishing news, and conversational nuggets from puts it well: This list is one of our more thought-
AML-List, is designed to fill that hunger. Or maybe ful expressions of Mormon writing. (To join, send
its designed to whet it. an e-mail message to <>
Pick up a plate. Take a helping or three. We hope with the single word subscribe.)
you like it. Stick around a while. Join in on the con- Some changes have happened on the list this past
versation. Join the community. quarter, thanks to founder Benson Parkinson. The
list and web pages have moved to XMission, and
Jonathan Langford, editor of AML-List Highlights, our capable Jonathan Langford has taken over mod-
has recently taken over as moderator of AML-List. eration duties. Benson and his wife, Robin, who
have sacrificed three to four hours each day for
many years so we could talk on the list, are relieved
A M L N E W S at last to pass some of that job to others.
But what has come of Bensons sacrifice? I feel he
Presidents Message has spawned an explosion of creative feasibilities
paralleling Brook Farm or any other number of his-
Mormon literature. How are we doing? Big ques- torical writing groups. His hope has certainly begun
tion. Not long ago one of our writers on AML-List, to be realized: I felt that if I could create an atmos-
Rob Pannoni, said, I dont read much Mormon lit- phere where all could come together and feed off
erature because I havent encountered many works each others energy, wed all grow, and what was
that appeal to me. good for one was good for all. Now Benson can
If you join the group of Mormon writers who spend more of his time creating those phenomenal-

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ly written novels (his second, Into the Field, has in Japan. I didnt feel so discouraged. I didnt feel so
recently been published by Aspen Book). alone. I felt I was one of a wonderful community
Many others, too, have sacrificed to join the cause and we were all in this together!
for better Mormon letters. Implementing Bensons Enough said.
list as a springboard, Chris Bigelow has helped Marilyn Brown
invent the very professionally created IRREANTUM.
Always, Lavina Fielding Anderson has generously
sacrificed her time and energy to produce the AML New AML Board Member
Annual. Jerry Johnston has long been a champion The AML board welcomes Scott Bronson to its
for Mormon literature. (And by the way, we wish ranks. Scott is a writer and actor who has served as
him a speedy recovery from his recent heart chairman of the science fiction symposium at
attackplease get better fast, Jerry!) Jerry has spent BYUso its no big surprise that his first major
much of his energy reviewing Mormon books for assignment on the AML board is to chair our writ-
the Deseret News and encouraging AML members ers conference this fall. (If you have any suggestions
to consider more accessible material from for the writers conference, e-mail Scott at <bron-
Mormon artists as they scout about to give awards.>.) Scott has produced and
Scott Parkins administration of the awards was very acted in several plays at BYU and elsewhere, and he
successful this past February as he took the helm appears regularly in Utah-produced movies and TV
from dedicated Dennis Clark. It is hard to begin shows, such as Touched by an Angel. Later this sum-
naming people because so many have contributed. mer he is directing a production of Tim Slovers
All of this effort to set up ways to encourage March Tale for Actors Repertory Theatre Ensemble
artists takes sacrifice of time and energytime that (ARTE) at the Castle Theatre in Provo, Utah.
might be used by artists to write their own imagi- Scotts science fiction story And the Moon Became
native literature. But is it important? Yes, it is. as Blood appeared in the Spring 2000 issue of
MaryJan Munger, who willingly gave of her time IRREANTUM.
to serve as president of the AML several years ago,
not only sacrificed for the AML but now continues
to sacrifice for her family. Is she able to continue Call for Papers for Academic Conference
writing? I am because I dont know how not to. . . . The theme of the AMLs next academic confer-
Motherhood, like anything worthwhile, is always ence, scheduled to be held on 24 February 2001 at
demanding, and my life as always is messy, but Ive Westminster College in Salt Lake City, is Zion and
never found the thing yet to cure me of my scrip- New York: Bridges and Innovations.
tophilia. Conference organizer John Bennion writes: In
I wanted to cheer, Yes, thats all of us! I also 1982 Gene England heralded the dawning of a
found this quote on AML-List from Beth Hatch: brighter day, a wave of Mormon writing inside and
One afternoon I was pushing my grocery cart outside Utah that went beyond all anticipations in
down the store aisles, once again trying to figure out terms of volume and quality. I am interested in
what to make for dinner. I didnt want to be there. receiving proposals that describe the various crests
Again, I wanted to be home at the computer writ- of that wave: What are the major trends in Mormon
ing or checking the list or reading. And then I real- writing, past and present? What writing by
ized that all of you were probably in similar situa- Mormons is succeeding with New York publishers?
tions. You would rather be reading or writing also. What regional presses and writers are producing
But you were probably driving home from work, or excellent work? Feel free to submit essays and cre-
finishing up in your offices, or leaving campus, or ative work in any genre, but I encourage sessions on
beginning dinner, or trying to figure out what to historical fiction, drama, film, poetry, short fiction,
make for dinner! And I wondered what time it was devotional literature, writing for children and

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young adults, mystery, and science fiction.

Proposals should be sent by 20 September 2000
to John Bennion at 3170 JKHB, BYU, Provo, UT
84602, fax 801-378-4720, or e-mail <john_ben->.


Dean Hughes
Born in 1943 in Ogden, Utah, Dean Hughes has
published more than 80 books for children, young
adults, and adults. He wrote several Mormon novels
early in his career, including Hooper Haller, Jenny
Haller, Cornbread and Prayer, Under the Same
Stars, and As Wide as the River. He is currently work-
ing on the best-selling Children of the Promise series
of historical novels about World War II, the fifth and
final volume of which will be published by Deseret
Book later this year.
Holder of a B.A. degree from Weber State College
and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of catching grasshoppers and taught me to embroider.
Washington, Hughes was an associate professor of Somehow, along with the desire to do something
English at Central Missouri State from 1972 to 1980 well, she also gave me the feeling that the range of
and a part-time visiting professor at Brigham Young joys in this life is very wide.
University from 1980 to 1982. He has also worked as I started talking about wanting to be a writer
a part-time editor and consultant, guest lecturer, and when I was a kid, and by junior high I told people
workshop leader at various writers conferences. After I was going to be a writer when I grew up. I read a
17 years of full-time writing, he recently returned to lot, started writing stories, had a great creative writ-
the classroom as a creative writing professor at BYU. ing teacher at Ogden High, a man named Wilson
He and his wife Kathleen have three children and three Thornley, and just kept believing I could do it. I
grandsons; he and his son Tom have coauthored three wrote a novela Catcher in the Rye kind of thing
nonfiction books. the summer after I graduated from high school, and
it got rejected. By then I had developed a secret
IRREANTUM: Trace for us how your writing image of myself as sensitive and rather deepbut I
inclination developed and how you first became was still playing football.
a published writer. At Weber State I majored in English, took cre-
Hughes: Back in my childhood days, I somehow ative writing classes from Gordon Allred, and decid-
developed a sense that I was going to do something ed to go on for a masters in creative writing at the
interesting with my life. My teachers told me I was University of Washington. I wrote a novel for my
smartand I was a good student (in spite of talking thesis but didnt publish that one either. I had
too much). But it was really my mother who made already planned to go on for a Ph.D. in literature so
me feel I could do whatever I set my mind to. She I would have a way to make a living. I did that and
read to me and created my first love for books, and then found a job at Central Missouri State
even more importantly she welcomed me in from University. I was teaching a lot of literature classes at

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first and had little time, but I got interested, because along with Family Pose and Team Picture. Another
of a childrens literature festival there, in writing for of my favorites, more about my own life than most,
younger audiences. I wrote a young adult novel, it is The Trophy. I suspect that Children of the Promise
got rejected, and then I did a childrens historical is my best work, although thats difficult for me to
novel about the early Mormon period in Jackson judge. Ive had lots of fun with some funny books
County. In the meantime I had published some about Nutty and Lucky, and I think the sports nov-
childrens nonsense poetry and some stories, but els are good, solid books for kidsespecially some
nothing else, and a lot of years had gone by since I boys who are reluctant readers. Next year I have a
had written that first novel. young adult novel coming out with Atheneum
I was 34 when I finally sold that historical novel, called Soldier Boys. Its also about World War II, and
Under the Same Stars, to Deseret Book, so I had it includes a prominent Mormon character, but its
been trying for 17 years and it was the fourth book for the national market.
I had written. All this was ever so much more com-
plicated than this summary may imply, and the IRREANTUM: Most fiction is a combination of
truth is that I quit a dozen times but then couldnt three elements: what the author has experienced,
ever stay quit. Interestingly, however, after I sold observed, and imagined. How do those three ele-
the sequel to that first novel, I sent a humorous chil- ments work together for you? How much is auto-
drens book to Atheneum in New York and sold it to biographical?
the first editor who read itthe famous Jean Karl Hughes: I think my work is almost never autobi-
and Ive been publishing in both the Mormon and ographical, in one sense, and of course always is. All
general markets ever since. my characters are me, to some degree. When Alex
gives a young woman a blessing in Rumors of War,
IRREANTUM: What are your favorites among feels the Spirit, and then a few minutes later doubts
your works? If someone asked you where to his own faith, thats right out of my experience as a
begin reading your books and how to get the best missionary and right out of my never quite as spir-
overview of your career and writing range, where itual as I would like to be life. But I do think I have
would you point them? one gift: I seem to possess a good deal of capacity for
Hughes: I have written everything from nonsense empathy. I seem to be able to imagine how I would
verse for preschoolers to an adult true crime book. I feel in certain circumstances, and I like to believe I
do sports, but I also do humor, mysteries, historical can imagine myself as older, younger, a woman, and
fiction, and serious young adult novels. I get so of course a soldier, even though Ive never been one.
many ideas that I cant settle down to one thing.
Im concerned that some kids overemphasize ath- IRREANTUM: What works of Mormon literature
letics. Those concerns come out in various ways in have you personally most enjoyed? What works
my Angel Park books. I try to portray Little League of general literature? How have these influenced
the way it should be: with a coach who teaches kids you as a writer?
to play the game well but doesnt pressure them too Hughes: I really read a lot of different kinds of
much about winning. In the soccer and basketball things. During my years as a literature professor, I
books, I raise questions about the relative impor- specialized in 19th-century British lit, with an
tance of sports, the dangers of racism and sexism, emphasis on the novel. So I love the great, classic
and the struggle of growing up in a complicated novels. In Mormon lit, Levi Peterson and Doug
world. I see nothing paradoxical about writing a Thayer are two of my heroes, but I dont think I
fast-action sports book that also raises questions write very much like them (and, of course, not as
about life. well). I love Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy and
I have always enjoyed writing more serious works. Ann Tyler and Ivin Doig, and a lot of other fiction
I loved writing Switch Tracks, a young adult novel, writers. Theyre not much like each other, and Im

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not much like any of them. I guess they have some IRREANTUM: You worked for about 15 years at
influence on me, but I couldnt say exactly what the home as a writer while your wife worked outside.
influence is. I do know that Im limited in my own You served as a bishop during much of that time.
talents, so Ive learned to do what I can do: tell a Tell us more about this side of your career: how
good story and try not to get in the way too much. you got up to full-time writing, how you bal-
When I try to write great sentences, I usually anced art with family and other responsibilities,
embarrass myself. what the bread-winning aspects of your career
have been. How much of your career did you
IRREANTUM: Do you like writing? Tell us more plan, and how much has been serendipity?
about your writing habits: how often you write, Hughes: I quit teaching because I was too naive to
how you balance it with other things, any rituals know better. I dont recommend such stupidity, but I
or conditions you must have for a good writing dont know how I could have done it without being
session, and perhaps some comments about naive. My wife, Kathleen, is a very organized per-
whether you use notes, outlines, research, multi- sona busy school administrator with big responsi-
ple drafts, etc. bilities. And she likes security. But when I told her I
Hughes: I love the process of writing, and I think wanted to give up my tenured teaching position to
I have a good MO. I do a lot of prewritingbrain- write full-time, she leaped off the edge with me, and
storming, outlining, describing characters, etc. she trusted that we would land somewhere.
and I write a fast, sloppy first draft. All of that is cre- At first I taught technical writing for Shipley
ative and fun for me, and then, once I have a draft Associates, did some writing for hire, and made
in my computer, I love to revise more than any- money from school visits. It took six or seven years
thing. Thats the polishing, artistic part of writing, to get to the point where I was making a living.
for me. Kathy provided the steady check and the insurance
I do like to sit down at 8:00 in the morning and benefits, and thats one of the biggest problems for
think of myself as going to work. Usually at 8:00 I a writer: operating without those paid benefits. But
dont feel like writing, but by 8:30 or 9:00 I almost overall its been a fairly easy ride for me, considering
always feel sorry for all the people in the world who what we bit off. I was able to publish consistently,
do anything else. The self-pity usually hits me again find new ideas, move into various markets, etc. I
in the afternoon, by about 4:00, when I stagger was home writing when I was a bishop, and some-
upstairs (I write in a little basement office). I go for times that meant too many telephone calls, but it
a run at noon sometimes, and I can handle inter- also meant I was there when I was needed some-
ruptions without a lot of problem. I know Im not times. My kids were gone away all day at school, so
a great writer, but I do think Im a pro. I pride I had the house to myself most of the year, and
myself on my discipline. when they were home Kathy was home on the same
What motivates me? Thats always so complicat- schedule. I loved being home when my daughter
ed to answer honestly. I started out, like most young needed a ride to dance class or one of my sons had
writers, thinking I would get fame and fortune. The a JV football game or a track meet. I could knock
fame a writer gets is very limited and gradually off and be there for all those things.
means almost nothing, and the money is so unpre- I hate to admit it, but its been a good life. Writers
dictable that its the scariest part of the life. What I love to suffer, I know, and maybe thats why Im no
love is to create the stories. I like responsesletters better than I am. Ive had life too good: lots of free-
from kids or, now, adult readers, or meeting people domeven golf on Friday, like a dentist, some-
who want to talk about the booksand Ive timesand pretty good financial rewards. Would I
enjoyed doing school visits over the years, but for recommend it? Well, it takes a certain personality,
me the great joy of being a writer is the writing maybe, and some luck. I would definitely have
itself. another career option ready.

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IRREANTUM: What have you learned about part of teaching, but I weary of reading student
marketing yourself as a writer and approaching writing (not that its bad, but just that there is so
different publishers? What other things have you much of it). On the other hand, I find that teaching
consciously done to carve out and maintain a forces me to take a harder look at my own writing.
full-time writing career? As I revise, I ask myself how tough I would be on a
Hughes: I think most writers sort of feel their way student for some of my vague descriptions or
along in this business, and thats what Ive done. My maudlin sentiments.
agent thinks I should have developed more of a I do think that creative writing can be taught.
niche, probably stressing my sports fiction, but Ive Talent cant be taught, of course, but thats true in
always done a lot of different kinds of things: mid- any area. I can teach process, and I think thats
dle-grade, young adult, adult, even an early reader something creative writing teachers have tended to
book; fiction, nonfiction; LDS, national; humor, avoid. To me, the idea that each person has some
sports, serious subjects, mysteries. I do what seems magical way to write is nonsense. The creative
fun, and I write the ideas I get. The one obvious process can be improved, adjusted. Just think how
thing Ive had to do is figure out what I can sell and many people opposed using word processors for cre-
what will bring in enough income to feed a family. ative writing when they first came out. Hear anyone
Ive done more series books than I might have done saying that now?
if I hadnt been trying to make a living by writing. So I feel I can teach process, and by workshop-
Series provide security, and they dont have to be ping with students I can see what makes sense in
poorly written, but they do tend to use certain for- their writing and what doesnt. Every semester Im
mulas, and theyre not as satisfying, for the most stunned by how much my students improve. I real-
part, as the more literary novels Ive done. Of ly emphasize revision, and thats something students
course, when I speak of series, Im excluding need to work on more than almost anything. What
Children of the Promise, which is a series but is quite most young writers lack is discipline.
different from the more commercial childrens series
Ive done. IRREANTUM: Will you give us an idea of what
I have written a lot of books, and one thing has your sales have been like? You have published in
sort of led to another. I got interested in a Mormon both the Mormon market and the national mar-
history series because I was living in Missouri and ket. How do they compare?
because I wanted to do childrens books. From there Hughes: Sales have really varied over the years.
I moved to other topics: humor, sports, etc. And Ive had some lean years, but Ive almost always
then other ideas came as I had to take a hard look at done as well as I would have as a professor, and
how a person could actually make a living writing. sometimes much better. Most of my books are out
Children of the Promise was the outgrowth of want- of print nowjust because books do disappear
ing to return to historical fiction and realizing that quickly in the modern market. I think Ive pub-
a period as vast as World War II would work only as lished 83, but I could be one or two off there. In
a big family saga. terms of my total sales, I have no idea. I would
think the number is in the millions.
IRREANTUM: Tell us about your teaching pro- I dont think the national and Mormon markets
fession. How does teaching writing and litera- are so different as people might think. Deseret Book
ture affect you as a writer? Is it even possible to is very professional, and as the organization grows it
teach creative writing? is becoming a little bit too much like the New York
Hughes: I really prefer to write. Now that Im publishers. (Books go out of print faster, you get
teaching at BYU, Im much happier on Monday, your editors phone mail instead of live voice, and
Wednesday, and Friday mornings because I teach all the rest.) Certainly, there are some things a writer
on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I like the classroom cant deal with in the Mormon market, but those

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things are becoming fewer all the time, and most of IRREANTUM: Talk to us in more detail about
the things I cant deal with I wouldnt choose to Children of the Promise. What has been the
write about anyway. For a long time I felt I couldnt response in terms of sales and feedback from
write about Mormons in the national market, but readers? How did you conceive this series, what
Im seeing some better signs there all the time. have been some highlights and challenges in
writing it, and where do you see it going?
IRREANTUM: What are future prospects for Hughes: Children of the Promise was something
Mormon literature? Will anything beyond inspi- my wife got me thinking about: Why dont you
rational romance and historical fiction break out write about the forties? But I spent two years read-
in the Mormon market? Do you think this ing about World War II before I began writing. The
nation will ever have a Mormon Saul Bellow or whole experience has been life-altering. I have put
Flannery OConnor, someone winning a Pulitzer seven years into the project now, and Ive never
or National Book Award for fiction that deals steeped myself in anything so long and thoroughly.
with Mormon themes, settings, and characters? Ive loved it all; I am somewhat tired now but enor-
Hughes: I think the future looks great for mously exhilarated. Ive reached a bigger audience
Mormon literature, but then my assessment of than ever before, even with my national books;
where it is now is not quite so gloomy as your made more money than Im used to; and received
description. People keep saying to me, Thank you an overwhelming response. I get letters from adults,
for telling the truth. I know that my books are who can tell me what they like about the books
pretty safe, but if readers are looking for more real- really wonderful, moving letters. And my name is
ism, less that is promotional and self-satisfying, actually recognized once or twice a month (instead
thats a very good sign. We are getting to be a bigger of once or twice a year).
market, so we can produce books for different tastes So it has made a great difference in my life, at one
and still sell enough to make them worthwhile. level, and finally not that much difference. But
Watch how well move into more genres and styles wow! How many things in life are this dramatic, ful-
in the next twenty years. In 1979, when I sold my filling, and satisfying? I have loved writing the
first novel to Deseret Book, there was almost noth- books. I will finish the last chapter with at least as
ing. In fact, in 1975 a Bookcraft editor told me that much sorrow as relief.
the company had never been able to sell fiction.
Look at us now. But its a very young art form in our IRREANTUM: What do you see in your near
culture, and it takes time. The great mistake is that future?
many fine Mormon writers avoid the market Hughes: When I finish my last volume of
because it isnt good enough. But they are the writ- Children of the Promise, I want to go back and revise
ers who can bring it there. Maybe Ive compromised my first series of childrens books, about the early
on some issues over the years, but I would like to Church. I also have in mind another adult LDS
think Ive helped bring the quality of Mormon fic- series, possibly a spin-off of Children, but Im not
tion to a little higher place. ready to say very much about that yet. Ill keep writ-
Do I think well have Mormon writers winning ing for children and adults and for both the nation-
national awards for writing about our culture? No al and Mormon markets, but I want to slow down
question. But weve got to learn to look at ourselves a little. My goal is to write books that are truly fine
honestly, and not everyone is going to like that. I pieces of art. I dont feel Ive done that yet; I always
just dont think that means we have to give up our think my next book will be the one Ill finally be sat-
faith and commitment. Theres plenty of room for isfied with. I have a feeling I can get better in my old
conversation about who we are without throwing age, and I want to try to do that.
out the basic things we believe and share.

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Bibliography of Dean Hughes library editions: Kickoff Time (1991)*, Defense! (1991)*,
Victory Goal (1992)*, Psyched! (1992)*, Backup Goalie
About the following bibliography, Hughes says: It doesnt (1992)*, Total Soccer (1992)*, Shake-Up (1993)*, Quick
include a few nonsense poems Ive published in childrens Moves (1993)*
magazines and a story or two, but Im not sure you want all Angel Park Hoop Stars series, 4 vols., paperback and
of that. Theres a certain point where a writer becomes library editions: Nothing but Net (1993)*, Point Guard
ashamed of producing too much. After all, anyone who writes (1993)*, Go to the Hoop! (1993)*, On the Line (1993)*
a great deal must be cranking them out. Isnt that what we Angel Park Karate Stars: Find the Power (1994)*
always hear? Note: An asterisk indicates titles that are out of Angel Park Football Stars: Quarterback Hero (1994)*
print. One-Man Team (1994)
Backup Soccer Star [girls team] (1995)
Atheneum Publishers (Simon and Schuster), New York: Baseball Tips [nonfiction, with Tom Hughes] (1993)
Nutty for President (1981)* The Trophy (1994)
Nutty and the Case of the Mastermind Thief (1985)* Brad and Butter: Play Ball! [Stepping Stones series]
Nutty and the Case of the Ski-Slope Spy (1985; Aladdin (1998)
paperback 1990)*
Nutty Cant Miss (1987) Pocket Books (Simon and Schuster), New York:
Nutty Knows All (1988; Aladdin paperback 1991) Lullaby and Goodnight [adult nonfiction] (paperback
Nutty, the Movie Star (1989; Aladdin paperback 1991) only, 1992; British edition, published under name D. T.
Nuttys Ghost (1993) Hughes, Hodder and Stoughton, 1992)
Re-Elect Nutty! (1995)
Honestly, Myron (1982)* Deseret Book, Salt Lake City:
Switching Tracks (1982)* Mormon historical fiction series: Under the Same Stars
Millie Willenheimer and the Chestnut Corporation (1979; paperback 1988)*, As Wide as the River (1980;
(1983)* paperback 1990)*, Facing the Enemy (1982; paperback
Jellys Circus (1986; Aladdin paperback 1989)* 1991)*, Corn Bread and Prayer (1988)*
Theo Zephyr (1987)* Hooper Haller (1981; paperback 1987)*
Family Pose (1989; as Family Picture, Scholastic paper- Jenny Haller (1983; paperback 1987)*
back 1990; French, Clandestin Lhtel, Castor Poche, Brothers (1986; paperback 1990)*
1993)* The Mormon Church: A Basic History [nonfiction]
End of the Race (1993) (1986; paperback 1991)
Team Picture (1996) Lucky series, paperback editions only: Luckys Crash
Scrappers series, 9 vols., Atheneum hardcover, Aladdin Landing (1990), Lucky Breaks Loose (1990)*, Luckys Gold
paperback, all 1999: Play Ball!, Home Run Hero, Team Mine (1990), Lucky Fights Back (1991), Luckys Mud
Player, Now Were Talking, Bases Loaded, No Easy Out, Take Festival (1991), Luckys Tricks (1992), Lucky the Detective
Your Base, No Fear, Grand Slam (1992), Luckys Cool Club (1993), Lucky in Love (1993),
Lucky Comes Home (1994)
Alfred A. Knopf/Random House, New York: Great Stories from Mormon History [nonfiction, with
Angel Park All-Stars series, 14 vols., paperback and Tom Hughes] (1994)
library editions: Making the Team (1990)*, Big Base Hit Well Bring the World His Truth: Missionary Adventures
(1990)*, Winning Streak (1990)*, What a Catch! (1990)*, from Around the World [nonfiction, with Tom Hughes]
Rookie Star (1990)*, Pressure Play (1990)*, Line Drive (1995)
(1990)*, Championship Game (1990)*, Superstar Team Children of the Promise series [adult historical novels
(1991)*, Stroke of Luck (1991)*, Safe at First (1991), Up about World War II], 4 vols. to date: Rumors of War
to Bat (1991)*, Play-Off (1991)*, All Together Now (1991) (1997), Since You Went Away (1997), Far from Home
Angel Park Soccer Stars series, 8 vols., paperback and (1998), Ill Be Seeing You (1999)

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E S S A Y gories, because of space but also because of my lim-

ited knowledge of the others. In attention to voice,
All Is Well in Zion? treatment of issues, grounding in a Christian aes-
Publishing among the Gentiles thetics, and play with form and language, literary
By John Bennion short fiction and young adult writing are remark-
ably similar. The pieces Ive selectedPaul
For nearly a year now, Ive met with a critique Rawlinss Good for What Ails You, collected in
group led by Cheri Earl and Carol Lynch Williams. No Lie Like Love; Mary Clydes Jumping, from
The group focuses on writing books for young peo- Survival Rates; Darrell Spencers The Glue That
ple and publishing these books in the national mar- Binds Us, found in Our Secrets Out; Dean
ket. From these people Ive learned that occasional- Hughess Brad and Butter: Play Ball!, a chapter book
ly my writing is insular, clogged with exposition and for lower-grade readers; Carol Lynch Williamss
meditation, laden with dogmatic issues, disconnect- novel The True Colors of Caitlynne Jackson; and
ed emotionally, and just too fussy; in other words, Louise Plummers The Unlikely Romance of Kate
its academic prose, the product of a system that nat- Bjorkmanare innovative but also rely on the best
urally tends toward constipation. In addition to the fictional traditions. I could have chosen from sever-
problem of writing from an ivory tower, a second al other writers, but these are representative of the
cause of my infirmity may be thinking of myself as best writing done today in these two forms.
a Mormon writer, with the Mormon prior to the
writer. Despite my desire to write fresh and excel- Voice
lent fiction, I recognize that because I am an insid- With each of these writers the narrators voice
er Mormon I sometimes feel privileged, exempt overwhelms the story, not as a foreign conqueror,
from some of the practices, principles, and restraints artificially foisted on the story through clever
of excellent storytelling throughout history. Im spelling and abbreviation, but through the rhythm
sharing my thoughts because I believe Im not the of the words, the angle at which the story comes at
only one in need of a purgative. (I think its time to us. In The True Colors of Caitlynne Jackson,
flush this metaphor.) All of uswriters, readers, Williamss narrator, a 12-year-old girl, and her sister
critics, publishers, and booksellerscan learn from Cara, 11, are sitting on the beach near their house
the best of us who are publishing outside Zion. poking holes in the sand. Its early morning and
Of course there are problems with lusting after their mother is not yet awake.
the gentile press (is this metaphor any better?): New Last night I dreamed that Mom
York has been slow to appreciate the universality in drowned. Cara glanced at me real quick
Mormon material; its a form of snobbery to claim and then back at the holes she had made.
that a writer hasnt made it until she publishes out- Oh, was all I could say.
side Zion; and the big commercial presses want I was sitting on the slide, right by the
slick, fast, sometimes sensationalistic stories. Still, top. The water was black. Mom kept
all the kinds of problems Ive listed depend on a going up and down in it. And then she
destructive opposition between those writing and went down for good.
publishing inside the fold and outside (even my title I looked over to the slide, which stood
participates in that split). in a place that should be shallow because
I identify at least five promising areas in Mormon of its nearness to the shore. We had it
literature outside Utah: (1) playwriting and screen- pointing to a hole where a spring bubbled.
writing, (2) science fiction and fantasy, (3) poetry, The water there was deep, so when we
(4) writing for children and young adults, and (5) came off the slide we were in over our
literary short fiction. heads.
Im going to focus here on the latter two cate- Cara leaned close to me. Her voice

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sounded soft. Caity, I didnt even try to elements of a subject, certainly of a set-
help her. ting, were to need to be super-added. (4)
Dont worry about it, I said, because At the end of his life he turned to rhythmical yet
fat dont sink. convoluted prose, but he is identifying a truth, that
Shes got bones and guts in there, storytelling has always been about the listeners
Cara said. (23) engagement with a particular revelation of self in a
The two girls ambivalence toward their mother, particular context. Mary Clydes A Good Paved
who is verbally and physically abusive, is essential to Road shares, as if among friends, a small epiphany
their language, the way they put words together. that the narrator discovers in a drugstore:
This ambivalence, whether they need their mother, Its while Im reading the label on a Rit
love her in some way, or would rather have her dye bottle in Osco that I notice Frances
gone, is the heart of her story. Bigelow standing in front of the greeting
In similar fashion, Paul Rawlinss stories arise nat- cards. Shes flipped one openmaybe one
urally from the voice and attitudes of the protago- of those funny cartoon kindsand tips
nist. A page into Good for What Ails You, the her head back to read it through her shell-
narrator gives readers the following conversation: rimmed half-glasses. Her gray hair is held
If he doesnt love me anymore, Boo, captive by a too-tight perm, but her
Jean Ann says, the devil damn him. I matching pants, shirt, and vest are a dilut-
never stopped. And at this moment she ed butterscotch. Subtle. An expensive
looks as fine as she ever has, in her wet color. One of those handbags like a little
dress with all the little blue and yellow suitcase sits in the shopping cart baby seat.
flowers bleached almost right out of it, She smiles a quick smile of private amuse-
and soft hair the color of tobacco, with her ment, tucks the card into an aqua blue
blue eyes watering up around the edges. envelope, and wheels away, looking
He isnt dumb, I say, though I catch pleased and perfectly content ten years
myself wishing right then he might do after strangers murdered her son in the
something low to turn her against him desert.
and somehow toward me forever. (85) It stops me right where I stand. I put the
The tension in the story grows out of the characters bottle of 003 Pink back on the shelf. The
admiration for this lovely woman who is his best peace of Frances Bigelows face unnerves
friends wife. What was true for Henry James in me. (35)
writing Portrait of a Lady is true for us as readers of Suddenly its as if were at homemaking meeting, or
this kind of voice-saturated, character-driven fic- talking on the lawn after church, or in a bar, or stop-
tion. James writes in his preface: ping at the door of an office mate. Guess who I saw
Trying to recover here, for recognition, today, the narrator almost says. This I, the teller
the germ of my idea, I see that it must of the story, her attitudes and values, are more
have consisted not at all in any conceit of essential than the simple action. The characters
a plot, nefarious name, in any flash, minor epiphany at seeing a woman who has suf-
upon the fancy, of a set of relations, or in fered tremendously generates the story, which is
any one of those situations that, by a logic largely the narrators meditation about the road her
of their own, immediately fall, for the fab- life has followed. How am I grappling with the
ulist, into movement, into a march or a accidents of my life? she seems to wonder.
rush, a patter of quick steps; but altogeth- How do any of us grapple? Dean Hughess char-
er in the sense of a single character, the acter is a third grade boy whose father expects him
character and aspect of a particular engag- to be a great baseball player, like he was in college.
ing young woman, to which all the usual Butter is Brads best friend, a relief from the seri-

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ousness of his father. Hughes introduces their You know, that disgusting kind with kiss-
friendship almost as if the reader were a third child, es that last three paragraphs and make you
hearing about the experiences that made them close: want to put your finger down your throat
There was the time our kindergarten to induce projectile vomiting. It is one of
teacher, Ms. Larsen, told us that she was those books where the hero has a mascu-
getting married. So Butter started kissing line-sounding name that ends in an
his arm to make smooching noises. unvoiced velar plosive, like CHUCK
I tried not to laugh. But Butter laughs (although that is not my heros name), and
like a trainchug, chug, chug, chug. he has sinewy muscles and makes guttural
When he starts laughing, so do I. Then groanings whenever his beloved is near. In
neither one of us can stop. (5) romance novels, the heroine has a femi-
They are getting ready to play baseball, their first nine-sounding name made up of liquid
experience on an organized team. After making consonants, like FLEUR, and has full,
jokes about the uses of wristbandsto keep their sensuous lipsyearning lips. I think the
hands on, use as slingshots, or hold the coachs pants word yearning will appear at least a
upBrad begins to become anxious. thousand times in this book. The heroine
I was laughing, too, but I told Butter, also has long silky legs and is a virgin. (1)
You know, tomorrow we cant fool She lets readers know that hers is a happy story
around. Weve got to keep our heads in the about falling in love with her dream man at
game. Christmastimea situation which is an invitation
Butter said, I think Ill keep my head to mushy, clichd prose. Kates wit and ironic vision
in my baseball cap. keeps the story from that slough. At the end of the
I tried not to laugh that time. Dad prologue she writes:
always says I have to be serious about base- Im giving this my best shot. Ive got
ball. He wants me to be really good. Like The Romance Writers Phrase Book right
maybe the greatest player in the world. next to the word processor in case Im at a
Thats what I want, too. I want to be a loss for words, as they say. If you are jaded
shortstop in the major leagues. And hit about romance or have PMS or are on the
lonnnnnggg dingers. downside of manic depression and cant
Thats what me and Butter call home stand to read about other peoples happi-
runs. ness, then get real. This book is not for
But sometimes Dad makes me nervous. you. (23)
He acts as if he wants me to be the best In Plummers writing, teller and what is told cannot
player in the world right nowbefore I be separated. Also, as generally happens with non-
turn nine. (89) literary conversations, the dance between teller and
Brads dilemma is how to play well, but he must also listener involves considerable play with the words
know the corollary of that physical knowledge that shape the story. How should Kate describe and
whether to have fun with baseball or take it serious- think about love? Through the book she experiments
ly, the way his father wants. The voice, the way the with the languages of romance books, literary novels,
character forms words out of this inner tension, and stable married love, seldom found in any book,
produces the story. given to us through the voices of Kates parents.
In The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman Louise That every story is also play with words is espe-
Plummer gives us an honest and engaging young cially true of Darrell Spencers work. From the
woman, more spirited than Henry Jamess protago- beginning every teller struggles with the impossible
nist. Kate says in the prologue: tangle of language. In each story the voice of the
This is one of those romance novels. narrator is practically the only touchstone, but even

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his ability to speak truth is uncertain. In The Glue If one writes with a tacit understanding
That Binds Us the gods have intervened in the of truth that excludes most of what the
characters life, but also in his ability to get a story non-Mormon audience views as reality, I
straight: think the writer will have problems. In
Mornings, I wake up, and glumness other words, it is the silent spaces in a text
mugs me before my feet hit the floor. In a which speak the loudest, the assumptions
fit, some spoilsport goaty god has come that one writer or another believes to be
down hard on me. Im Colfisch. The gods? true which need not be spoken, but yet
They interfere, a tort et a travers, without determine the outcome of the plot. These
rhyme or reason. I tiptoe along walls from can be most annoying even within a cul-
corner to corner and hope to avoid the ax. ture. . . . In the end, I guess what I am
(134) talking about is narrative technique and
What is at stake is Colfischs wife, who seems to be closure. While your characters may come
leaving him for another man. How can he use to certain conclusions, your text should be
words, which are always unreliable, to communicate more careful about drawing small circles
to her his sorrow that their love may be over? How of enclosure in a big world. (17 May
can he hope to win her back? His semimute con- 1995)
vulsions in language are the story; teller, mode of Making a story do the work of a sermon, where
telling, plot, and the issues raised are one entity. answers are already known, produces fiction which
feels manipulative and lifeless, like a game where the
Treatment of Issues home team always wins, or like a road trip on a free-
The material which arises in both the literary way, where the getting there doesnt matter. In the
short stories and the books for young readers is fiction Ive considered here, the characters may
risky: impending adultery, child abuse, loss of love know the traditional or dogmatic answers, but they
of wives, boyfriends, or fathers. But stories told in discover that those answers must be expanded, seen
Zion by insider writers also involve risks. What is in a new light, adapted to the new situation the
different is the attitude toward the material and character faces. If a reader wants stock answers, she
toward the issues raised. The narrators and the char- must go elsewhere.
acters in the stories Ive selected all have clear values: In True Colors the protagonist and her sister live
Colfisch loves his wife; Boo resists the impulse to with their abusive mother, who one day at the
love his best friends wife; Brad loves his father; beginning of summer simply takes off. What should
Carol Williamss abused girls know that their moth- they do to take care of themselves and provide for
er is significantly disturbed; Kate is surrounded by food? No social, religious, or even familial system
stable familial love; Clydes character respects her steps forward with easy answers, so they must rely
stable and efficient husband but also values the on themselves, discovering nontraditional ways to
nature of her former, laid-back husband. But each be a family.
author also chooses certain core issues through Spencers Colfisch believes his wife has lost inter-
which traditional values are reexplored. Neither est in him and is drifting toward an affair with her
writer or narrator assumes that she has absolute Mormon friend. Once again traditional answers,
knowledge about how to pass through the experi- such as faith in the institution of marriage itself or
ence facing her characters. Each writer recognizes counseling, are inadequate to deal with his problem.
that her knowledge of the truth is limited and that Eventually he discovers that he had simply misread
answers are seldom easily earned. Several years ago the situation, but in the process he grapples with the
on AML-List, Pauline Mortensen considered why nature of communication, of love, and with the
Mormon writing often offends the sensibilities of ways cultural systems affect love and communica-
national editors and readers: tion.

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Kate Bjorkman, Plummers protagonist, is faced ically full. Youve got love back that way, I remind
with competition for a young man she admires. him to his face while I point up north. What else
Kates rivals each have a different concept of love: have you got to go off looking for? But Kingsley is
one views sexual attraction as a way of defining self, on the raft with a pile of supplies (97). As he floats
one hardly understands that sexual attraction and away, the reader feels the loss of his love for his wife,
familial love can unite in one person. Kate faces the little else.
decision of how to love, and while she comes to Dean Hughess character faces a dilemma far
adopt traditional attitudes about that complicated older than the story of the prodigal sonhow do
human phenomenon, Plummer never allows Kate children who love their parents make their own
to take those values for granted. Her traditional val- decisions? Brad wants to play baseball well and his
ues are stronger because shes honestly tested them. father wants the same thing, but his fathers expla-
In Rawlinss Good for What Ails You the pro- nations of how to stand and swing dont make sense.
tagonist and his depressed friend, who has not How will they solve this dilemma? Mostly through
touched his beautiful wife for five months, take off the help of Brads friend Butter, who shows them
into the desert. Which is less reala love which is both how to relax about baseball and about life. The
disappearing or Lake Sevier, marked on the map as solutions Hughes leads Brad to are creative yet log-
Intermittent, but which may come back any ical. A reader learns to be himself, without rejecting
timewhen Lake Bonneville returns? The protago- the values of his parents.
nists father is a desert rover, wandering on the edge In Mary Clydes A Good Paved Road, the
of society, now living on the shore of the dead lake. woman begins to reexamine her relationship to her
And Ive got a mine out there, Dad current husband, an absolutely reliable man. His
confides to us. only flaw is that he has strictly conservative values
What kind? Kingsley says. He leans and basically a bland personality. She compares him
over to my old man like a partner. to her former husband, who was lazy and irrespon-
Bones, Dad says. Whale. A big one, sible, but incredibly romantic. Has she made a mis-
one of the old buggers, with tusks. take?
On this count, I think Dad might well In this and all the other stories Im considering,
be full of bulldust. the dilemmas are not unique, but no answer is swal-
Where? Kingsley says. lowed unearned. Unusual options are presented. If
Out on the lake, Dad says. A couple the ways the issues are explored are nontraditional
of hours. and unique, then how are the stories moral?
Hours? I say. Conventional wisdom in Zion says that New
Whens Lake B. due back? Kingsley York publications often destroy values, but my sense
says. of these Mormon writers is not that theyve sacri-
Any time, Dad says. Hes got an ficed anything to write in the national market but
inflatable raft strapped to the top of his that they use narrative to deepen and adapt their
truck. Readiness is all. Youve heard the deepest moral impulses.
story of the ten virgins?
Not since high school, Kingsley says, Morality
though its two different stories theyre I believe that these works are moral in three ways.
talking about. (92) First, the stories offer readers the chance to experi-
Characters and readers are led by language to a place ment with making moral decisions in confusing sit-
where reality is uncertain. Perhaps only love is left, uations. Reading good stories is like practice for
and even that is waning. At the end of the story reality. Readers are invited to step vicariously into
Kingsley paddles away across Lake Sevier, which the place of the characters because their dilemmas
through a storm the night before has become mag- are true dilemmas, not part of a Socratic game to

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implant a sermon inside a narrative. When readers through their play with form and language. Perhaps
experience these stories vicariously, they exercise the best examples of play with form are Louise
moral muscles in ways that listening to truth in the Plummers The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman
form of epigrammatic principles cant. We need and Darrell Spencers The Glue That Binds Us.
both the sermonic (Thou shalt love thy mother Because she wishes to examine conventional
and father) and stories which explore how that teenaged (and adult) ways of thinking about love,
happens in a chaotic world. Sermons are essential to Louise Plummer questions the ways stories of love
Mormon culture, but they are listened to different- are told. Her method is to break narrative conven-
ly than stories; the truths received from storytelling tion: readers know the end of the story from the
are kinetic, enabling readers to apply the principles beginning, the narrator admits that she is writing
of the gospel in their own relationships. the book held by the reader, and the narrator
Second, the stories Ive considered today amplify includes her own revision notes in the book. In
and deepen our concepts of morality, giving us these notes, the narrator looks at her story from
human action in a complex manner which is alternative angles, considers what had to be cut,
unavailable to the sermon. For example, if we accept shows how emotion is determined by traditional
the fact that sexual immorality and disobedience to modes of speaking, and observes how language
parents are both destructive, how do we respond breaks down. The narrator herself is a student of
when those we love participate in those sins? Stories language, both through the linguistics of her father
can present us with a second-level moral decision and the literature taught her by her English teacher.
how we can continue to love a sinner. Given the fact Plummers manner of narration takes into account
that we know we are to feel grateful for the gospel readers traditional need for story but also shows her
in the face of death, what is left for us to feel? Stories readers that some stories are unreliable.
can help uncover cruelties we didnt know we were In Darrell Spencers world, all stories are unreli-
perpetuating, subtleties of human love we didnt able. In The Glue That Binds Us the narrators
know existed. They can help us apply Christian mind wrestles with how to interpret two events: a
charity in a sinful world. Instead of destroying self-appointed prophet has given his wife some
morality, the stories weve been exploring today money, claiming it is a gift from the Heavenly
seem to find moral decision making in a wider Parents, and his wife seems to be moving toward an
range than we thought possible. affair with her friend Gust. In both cases, conven-
Third, the moral dilemmas are given in the con- tional modes of telling break down. The journalist
text of a profound love for the characters, manifest- who interviews his wife gets the story all wrong.
ed by the authors careful attention to voice. Close Utah ways of looking at love, morality, and fate
attention to the words, thoughts, and actions of seem all screwed up. His primary concern is that her
even an imagined character can be a kind of affection, like the physical universe and like all ways
Christian empathy. In the pieces weve looked at of telling stories, is subject to entropy. He knows his
today, the difficulty of the choice is represented body is breaking down, and that physical fact is
accurately through careful attention to voice; a char- beyond all the manipulation of any story he can
acters dilemma is never belittled or ridiculed. imagine. Even Colfisch, the narrator, is unreliable,
Readers who struggle with making decisions in their subject to suspicion.
own lives will find these stories instructive but also Spencers play is also on the level of conversation
liberating. The stories dont lead characters or read- and language. His narrator switches in a strange and
ers to feel guilty or inadequate. arbitrary manner between spoken and written lan-
guage, floundering in his inability to hold his wife
Play with Language and Form to him. She is preparing to go out with Gust, the
One of the ways the stories help readers deepen Mormon that the narrator believes is stealing her
and expand traditional modes of thinking is away:

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Inside Im snarling. Ive got the Cubs on The character is forced to examine what she finds
cable when Gloria comes out of the bed- stirring, safety or romance.
room wearing a sundress. Her shoulders In Rawlinss story, the rhythm of the repeated
are tan. In the time weve been here, shes words seduces the narrator into making a rash deci-
filled Gusts closets with new clothes. They sionquitting his job to help save his friends mar-
shop together. They go to malls. Shes riage:
added pottery to his end tables. I told my boss about needing some
Cant you come? she says, and she vacation.
twirls, really gets up on her toes and goes Youre on vacation, he said.
around and around. Get yourself out of I guess I quit then, I said.
the dumps, she says. She and Gust are I guess you do.
going to a car show then to dinner. Its for a friend, I said while he wres-
I say, I dont mind the dumps, and I tled a huge saucepan of refried beans onto
hold up a yellow legal pad as if to say, a burner.
Cant you see when a mans busy as hell? At So go, he said. (85)
the top of the pad Ive written, WHAT He slips into an important decision because of the
ARE TWO JEWS DOING IN SALT rhythm of talk. Later in the story, play on the edge
LAKE CITY, UTAH? of reality seduces his friend to undertake a journey,
Gloria lowers the sound on the TV. leaving his wife behind. Words are powerful and
Colfisch, she says, youre coming dangerous.
apart. (141) Carol Williams shows that the two girls are clos-
And the reader and language and our overweening er than some sisters in more functional families,
confidence in stories come apart with him. simply because they must rely on each other for
While the other stories dont experiment with refuge from their abusive mother. When a boy asks
form to the extent that Plummer and Spencer do, the protagonist to a dance, she begins a rite of pas-
all show characters playing with language as a means sage that affects her most dramatically but which
of exploring understanding of the dilemmas that also affects her younger sister. How will they togeth-
face them. In Mary Clydes A Good Paved Road er adapt to this new condition, and how will they
the conversation helps the narrator to see her own deal with their mothers reaction? Few 12-year-old
culture in a fresh manner, through her first hus- girls could prepare for a dance, a magical dreamlike
bands eyes: event, without help from their mothers. But this
We sit on a middle bench in sacrament mother is cruel in unexpected ways. So the problem
meeting the next day. The missionaries in Williams faces is the one the girls face: what words
front of us have an investigator with them, will take us through this rite of passage? What lan-
someone theyre trying to converta large guage systems will the sisters adopt? The narrator
woman with a dainty face who smells of cig- says:
arettes. On the stand, a lacy tablecloth cov- That night I washed my waist-length
ers the sacrament table. Behind it, teenage hair in the kitchen sink with dish soap. I
priests cradle their heads in their hands. sat out in the evening and let the wind dry
Organ pipes cover the wall behind the choir it.
seats, like rows of obedient whistles. What beautiful tresses, Cara said, act-
The first time I took Lowell to church ing silly. She was on her way down to the
he whispered, Wheres the cross? lake. O sweet maiden, she called, turn-
Dont have them, I whispered back. ing around and walking backward. Wilt
Enjoy a cross, he said, always find thou swim with thy dearest sister?
them stirring. (49) What are you reading in school? I

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called back. The Bible? dead balls around here.

Come, maiden, Cara said, ignoring Be quiet a sec, I said. Im trying to
my question. remember all that stuff. What did he say?
Itll get my tresses wet, I said, but I I have to keep my back foot
ran down to the water, anyway, in my You must be a dog if you have back
shorts and T-shirt. Cara and I played feet. My feet are next to each other.
together till the sun sank and the night sky Come on, Butter, I said. Dont mess
filled up with lightning bugs and the around. What did he say about lifting my
sound of crickets. Then we went to bed. foot?
(22) Dont do that, Brad! You know what a
Again the language the girls use is the locus of the dog does when he lifts his leg.
story. The event that is coming is like a fairy tale, the Oh, brother. I couldnt remember any-
older sisters first dance, but unlike some popular thing. And now Butter had me laughing
fairy tales, this story can end in tragedy. With their again. (3031)
talk the girls move the invitation to the dance into The joking reflects Butters instinctive wisdom that
the realm of dreams, partly to play with it, to adapt what the father expects language to do is impossible.
themselves to this new mode of being, but also to He cannot put in words the complicated kinetic
prepare themselves for the dreams failure. The play knowledge of how to hit a ball. In addition, Hughes
is with words and with story; the girls experiment makes use of the propensity of all humans to play
with possibility, like the reader does, through the with language in conversation. Butters double
language of a fairy tale. entendres are not designed merely to make fun of
What makes the stories so natural is that we all Brad; Brads problem is precisely that he cant loosen
play with language; its how we adapt to new situa- up. The narrative is so clear and unified that the
tions and blunder more closely to clarity. We start second grade readers who are the target audience
doing this play in voice at a very young age. In Dean will sense that what Brad and his father need to do
Hughess story, the character, despite coaching from is just chill.
his father who played college baseball, has just In Plummers Unlikely Romance, the man longed
struck out in his first at-bat experience in his first for by the narrator has come home from college
organized game. How will he and his father and his with a drop-dead beautiful woman. In one of her
friend deal with the stress and embarrassment? Revision Notes Kate tries to figure out how to ask the
Right after that, my dad came down to woman, Fleur, concerning the status of her relation-
the dugout. He talked to me through the ship with Richard. By the end of the section, the
wire fence. He said, Brad, you forgot play with language enables the narrator to reject the
what I told you. kind of destructive malice required in many
I got mixed up, I said. romance novels:
Why were you so bent over? I asked her about Stanford and stuff
I thought thats what you said to do. about California, but really, I didnt hear
No, not at all. Now listen closely. Next any of the answers, because I was thinking
time, hold your bat still. Keep your weight all the time about the THINGS I
on your back foot, but dont lean so much. COULDNT ASK FLEUR ST. GER-
Lift your front foot and stride forward. MAINE:
Swing level. And dont try to kill the ball. a. Are you and Richard lovers? (Geez, I
Okay, I said. But I was already forget- sound like Im writing bad subtitles for an
ting. Italian movie.)
Dad walked back to the bleachers. b. Are you going to be lovers much
Butter said, Hes right. We dont need any longer? (duh!)

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c. What is the chance that you might Spencer, Darrell. The Glue That Binds Us. Our
find someone else and that Richard will Secrets Out. Columbia: University of Missouri Press,
become my lover? (Sounds like a virgins 1993.
fantasy.) Williams, Carol Lynch. The True Colors of
d. If there is a slim chance to no chance Caitlynne Jackson. New York: Bantam Doubleday
at all of your changing lovers, is it possible Dell, 1997.
that you might have some horrific con-
genital disease that could cause your early
(and yes, very sad) demise? E S S A Y
e. Does psychosis leading to suicide run
in your family? Cookies for the World
f. Why is it so hard to hate you? Why I Write Childrens Books
Im completely embarrassed by these By Sharlee Mullins Glenn
questions. Is it possible to make writing
worse with revision? (3738) I ran into an old college professor of mine a cou-
A more important question is, Can mediocre writ- ple of months ago. We exchanged pleasantries, then
ing be made better? Perhaps the recipe Ive outlined he asked me what I was doing with my life. Thats
today is as useless and complicated as the advice exactly how he phrased it.
given by Brads father. Lets see, saturate your story Well, I stammered. My husband and I have
with voice, at the same time remain open to the pos- five children, so that keeps us pretty busy.
sibility of flexible solutions to universal issues, have a He nodded and waited for more.
deep ethical awareness, and play with form and lan- And Im on the PTA board and the Arts Council
guage. Seems ridiculous now. Whether or not my and the Parent Involvement Committee at the jun-
abstractions are useful, I know that reading good fic- ior high. Then theres always church, you know!
tion makes us better writers and that the writers Ive He smiled and waited for more.
considered today are worthy of emulation. And, lets see. . . . Im not teaching anymore, but
I am doing some writing.
John Bennion finished his term as AML president in His face brightened. What kind of writing? he
February 2000. This essay was delivered as his presi- asked.
dential address at the AML conference held on 19 Childrens books, I said. Im writing childrens
February 2000. books.
Oh. He looked visibly disappointed. It was as if
Works Cited I had told him I was working as a chefat Burger
Clyde, Mary. Jumping. Survival Rates. Athens: King.
The University of Georgia Press, 1999. Id like to be able to say that he went on to make
Hughes, Dean. Brad and Butter: Play Ball! New some inane comment like, Why are you wasting
York: Random House, 1998. your prodigious talent on childrens books? I would
James, Henry. Preface. Portrait of a Lady. New have really enjoyed quoting the prodigious talent
York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1975. part here. Plus, I could have lambasted him for his
Mortensen, Pauline. AML-List Archive. 17 May obvious ignorance. But he didnt say anything like
1995 <>. that. He just looked vaguely disapproving.
Plummer, Louise. The Unlikely Romance of Kate Or maybe Im just paranoid.
Bjorkman. New York: Delacorte Press, 1995. Im not usually defensive about my decision to
Rawlins, Paul. Good for What Ails You. No Lie write for children, but this particular encounter left
Like Love. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, me feeling a bit testy. I went right home and began
1996. stockpiling pithy quotes from writers like Lois

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Lowry and Katherine Paterson and Louis Sachar. read her latest work? Its a childrens book. And it
Then I realized that, while I was learning a whole isnt very good. It really isnt.
lot about why these people wrote for children, I was- Okay, end of digression.
nt necessarily answering that question for myself. 2. I write childrens books because I love children
So thats what Im doing now. Here is my grand and I love books. Im completely crazy about them
apologia, my very personal justification for why I, both. They are two of the deepest passions of my
Sharlee Mullins Glenn, write childrens books. very passionate soul (Ive got a little Italian blood
1. I write childrens books because they are short. mixed with that pragmatic Scandinavian stuff back
Okay, so Im being facetious. Sort of. The truth is there in the genetic line). Simple mathematics tells
that while this may not be the most important rea- you that Children + Books = Childrens Books.
son why I write for kids, it is a factor. Pragmatist Okay, so thats not exactly mathematics. Still, it
that I am (I hail from a long line of sturdy makes sense, doesnt it?
Scandinavian widows), I recognize that short suits 3. I write childrens books because I want my own
my current five-kids-under-thirteen Soccer Mom kids to read them. Right now, not when theyre
lifestyle. So right now I am focusing on writing older. Its one of the ways I mother them. Some
poems and picture books. moms bake their kids cookies; I write books for
Actually, thats not entirely true. I am trying to mine.
write another novel too. But its a childrens novel, 4. I write childrens books because my father died
and those tend to be shorter than adult novels. I in a mining accident when I was five years old and
even told the editors of IRREANTUM that I probably then three months later my oldest brother drowned
wouldnt be able to write this essay because I was and my mother fainted at his funeral and I saw her
trying to finish a novel. But here I am. Writing this fall and felt the universe crumble and thought,
essay. And do you know why? Because Im avoiding There goes Mommy. Now what am I going to do?
the novel. Novels are long. Novels are hard. Writing And because I had mentally handicapped twin
a novel is like trying to climb Mount Everest, or aunts who made lettuce and sugar sandwiches and
even Mount Timpanogos, when you barely have who accidentally started brush fires every other year
enough energy to climb into bed at night. or so. And because one of these aunts taught me
So, theres reason number one. I write childrens how to read when I was four. The other one taught
books because theyre short. me how to drive a car about that same time. We
Brief digression: Please note that I said short, ended up in the irrigation canal. And because I lived
not easy. It is not easier is write for children than on an Indian reservation. And because my
for adults. In fact, there are many truly fine, even Grandma waltzed with strangers in her ruby red
great, writers of adult fiction that cannot, simply robe and sang: Have you seen my, have you seen my,
cannot, write a good childrens book. Case in point: have you seen my new shoes? And because my broth-
Toni Morrison. Toni Morrison is, in my opinion, er once caught a rattlesnake and wired its head into
the greatest writer that America has ever produced an aluminum pop can then begged my mom to
(sorry Faulkner!). There are passages in her books drive him over to Grandma and Grandpas house so
that literally take my breath away. When I read he could show them what hed done and all us kids
Beloved I felt exactly as I did when I walked into the piled into our old Chevy station wagon and we were
Sistine Chapel last summer and looked up at that almost there when the snake got loose and boy oh
magnificent ceiling of Michelangelos. I wanted to boy you should have seen what happened next!
fall to my knees and weep. That a human beinga In other words, I have a lot of materialright
poor, bare, forkd animalcould have conceived of, from my own childhood. Loads of material. A
let alone executed, such a work was almost beyond plethora of material. More material than I could
belief. Thats how I feel about Beloved. Morrison is ever use in a lifetime of writing childrens books.
a master. She is brilliant, unparalleled. But have you Plus I have five kids of my own. Five little lives and

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endless fodder for my writing projects. ing out this year: One in a Billion (Cornerstone) and
5. I write childrens books because I was a child Gracie and Roo (G.P. Putnam's Sons). Sharlee lives in
myself when I fell irretrievably in love with litera- Pleasant Grove, Utah, with her husband, James, and
ture. I remember the very moment I knew exactly their five children.
what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was sitting
on an old dead tree trunk that had toppled over in
the weeds behind our house, reading Little Women S T O R Y
and sobbing yet again (this was probably my third
or fourth reading of the book) over Beths tragic and Long after Dark
early death. I knew then that thats what I wanted to By Todd Robert Petersen
do. I wanted to write books. Books that would
make young girls weep. Books that could split the Carol stood, pulling her coat and purse out from
world wide open. Books that could make you forget under her chair. Phillip took the coat and watched
you were reading them on an old dead tree trunk in her turn to greet the Ohrtmans. Their hands
a patch of weeds. swarmed over her shoulders like giant, hairless bees.
6. I write childrens books because kids matter. Unsettled by the attention, she pushed her glasses
They matter in the most fundamental, the most back up onto the bridge of her nose and prepared
profound way that anything can matter. Our chil- herself for the fame of the newly released. Strangely,
dren are worthy of our keenest attention and our Phillip was no longer surprised by his wifes public
finest efforts. As adults I believe we have a special side or by the silver in her hair or the scallops of skin
charge, a God-given mandate, to nurture and care between the tendons of her hands. He knew that
for childrenfor all children. Writing books for this release from her church calling as the stake
them is one way I have chosen to fulfill this charge. Relief Society president was making her crazy. She
Its the plate of cookies I offer to the world. was never one for grand good-byes. Out of reflex,
None of this is to say that writing childrens books Carol smiled and allowed the Ohrtmans to say the
is somehow more noble, more innately virtuous conciliatory things they were obliged to say, then
than writing for adults. Adults matter too. I have to she disappeared into a halo of hair and coat collars
admit that there are times I yearn to explore themes for a moment, reappearing further down the aisle as
that speak more directly to my grownup mind and a log will surface in swift water. When Phillip
heart, to experiment with more complex structures caught up to her, she could barely veil her distress,
and more sophisticated literary devices; in short, to so taking her hand, he announced that people were
write an adult novel. Someday maybe I will. But for waiting for them at home.
now Ill write childrens books. Ill write them with Phone calls from California he said, feigning
love and passion and all the skill I can muster. Ill embarrassment.
write them because they are worth writing, because we told the kids wed be home by 7:30 so they
they need to be written. And also, of course, because could call, Carol finished, smiling weakly.
they are short. She pushed along, leading him through the
throng. He followed a few steps behind with his
Sharlee Mullins Glenn holds a master's degree from hands stuffed deep into his pockets and her overcoat
BYU and taught a writing course for the Honors folded over one arm. Church formalities still vexed
Department there for eight years before giving up aca- Phillip, and she knew it. She turned back and
demia for the writing life ( i.e., poverty). A frequent watched his brow furrow into a grillwork of con-
contributor to academic and literary journals, she has sternation. His hair was still the wild hair of a
recently turned her focus to writing for children. Her philosopher which had been slowly leeched of its
first young adult novel, Circle Dance (Bookcraft), was color and left white as chalk. Reaching back, she
published in 1998, and she has two picture books com- took his hand and pulled him along.

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Im not mad, he said, following her through the and slid her arms around the sides and back of his
vestibule and into the cold night air. shoulders.
Im not either. I just want to get home, she said. Were pregnant, she said quietly into his ear,
Its just going to be strange for you to be calling- then kissed him lightly on the cheek, her lips cool.
less, he observed. Carols uncertainty over the He set down the soldering iron, and turned, his face
release had become, over the course of the last week, an explosion of wonder.
an odd mixture of relief and aimlessness, and Phillip Ready to start a family, Professor Cronin? she
had spent so much of his time during the last few asked.
months feeling like he was down in the bottom of a He started to answer and then balked.
slot canyon that he didnt know what to do to help She smiled. The moment I laid eyes on you, I
his wife overcome the future. knewand you were acting like such a wiener.
As they walked out of the stake center together I just didnt think that missionaries were all that
with a foot or so of space between them and their sexy, thats all. Who would?
aging hands, a light snow began to fall in slight, Well, now youve gotten a missionary pregnant.
almost-imperceptible helixes through the orange- What do you have to say for yourself?
hued street lights of Foothill Boulevard. Phillip I figure that makes me a pretty big temptation.
helped Carol slip her coat around her shoulders. She
buttoned the front and tied the belt together and Carol clicked the power locks, and Phillip walked
then looked up into the sky, blinking when the snow around the front of the car and let himself in. He
brushed her eyelashes. She always said that snow drove home in silence. Lately he was unsure exactly
reminded her of babies, how there were no two alike. what his life meant. All the big decisions in his life
He looked over to see if she would make the same were past. He was now just on a trajectory.
remark. Carol was staring out into the night. Choosing didnt seem to play a part in things any-
People continued to course past them, parting on more.
each side and continuing on, flowing north and In November their boy, Nathan, had become a
south toward their cars. They fell in line and silent- father, and Phillip had found himself in a circle with
ly flowed along. Phillip heard himself say that they his father, brother-in-law, and the bishop as Nathan
needed the snow pack after the last two years blessed the child. The lines of his life curved back
drought, but he knew that he said it more to calm onto themselves, beginning and ending with a
himself than to inform his wife. This down time is name. Nathan spoke of blessings and missions and
going to be harder on her than the call was, he the difficulty of the times that lay ahead. It was joy-
thought, watching as she brushed the snowflakes ous and grave. Phillip was struck more profoundly
out of her hair. Shes going to obsess on all the people by his granddaughters blessing than by her birth.
she couldnt help. With so many sisters, births had become somewhat
Carol stood back from the door and let Phillip commonplace, but blessings, even christenings,
open it for her. She moved past him and sat down, were rare on his avowedly agnostic side of the fam-
pulling the bottom of her overcoat in after. ily. Religion was not a reality for them, not even
something to consider. It was a shock to the whole
In the garage of their first house in Boise, she had family that he had become a Mormon at all, some-
snuck up behind him and touched him lightly on thing he wasnt completely used to. Philosophy,
the neck. He was bent over an old radio, trying to when it did dream of such things, did not consider
solder a new wire onto the speaker, so he ignored them worthy of elevation. They were too concrete
her, the flux sizzling, and the bead of tin and lead and bound up in time to be of universal impor-
rolling on the plywood where he missed his con- tance.
nection. She drew a hank of hair back from in front Phillip fiddled with the heater vents and turned
of her eyes so that she could see him more clearly to Carol, his granddaughters namesake. He

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thought of saying something to her about having Periodically Phillip glanced over at Carol, who
magnified her calling and having done exactly as the leaned up against the car door with her forehead
Lord had hoped for her in everything, in their mar- against the window, her breath fogging the glass. In
riage, as a mother and as a woman, but it all seemed that light she seemed half her age. Phillip started to
foolish. He didnt have the right language for fool- say her name but stopped himself. Though it had
ishness anymore, and he missed it. been a slow lesson, he had learned when to ask deep
questions and when to leave well enough alone.
Thirty-five years ago, Carol and her companion, As he pulled into the driveway Carol said, Youre
a girl from Snowflake, Arizona, named Rebecca not asking me what Im thinking on purpose. You
Udall, had been waiting to catch a bus back to their know I hate it when you do that. He was going to
apartment in downtown Toronto. Phillip sat in the say that he was sure shed tell him whatever she
bus stop, hunched over a book, a pencil stuck needed to when she felt like it, but she stopped him.
behind his ear, his hair dark and unkempt. His lips And none of that Im-sure-youll-tell-me-when-
were moving and he hummed somewhat as he read. youre-ready garbage. Its like youre trying to read
Carol leaned over and peered across his shoulder my mind.
and down at the book. I gave that up twenty years ago.
Hes reading Greek, she whispered to Sister It doesnt matter what youre trying to do. What
Udall, who just nodded and said, M-hmm. matters is what I think youre trying to do.
Dont you think thats kind of strange? she Phillip hit the automatic garage door opener.
asked. Okay, he said.
Her companion shrugged. And dont start in with me about Plato, she told
Im going to ask him about it, she said and then him.
tapped him on the shoulder. Phillip pretended not What about Homer? he asked. He looked
to notice, and so she tapped again. He stopped straight into her eyes as they flickered about. Age
humming and pulled the pencil down from his ear, had richened her face. She blinked and the red cres-
placing it in the book and slowly closing the cover. cent of her mouth flexed as she tightened her jaw
Thats Greek, right? she asked. and relaxed it. Its strange for you to be so impor-
Isocrates, he said, the Encomium of Helen. tant to the church, he said suddenly. She looked
You in school? she asked. away, watching snow disappear into the deep green
He nodded. boughs of the yellow cedar in the side yard. This
What are you studying? religion is real for you, he said. That still amazes
He raised the book slightly and then set it back me.
down on his lap. Carols eyes drifted out into the darkness.
Youre just studying one book? she asked, pre-
tending to be surprised. When he met Carol and Sister Udall, Phillip had
He hadnt yet looked up at her, but he said, No, been an avowed agnostic and empiricist, insistent
I meant philosophy in general. Classical philosophy, that no one could know what lay beyond the sens-
Plato, Aristotle and so forth. es. But when Sister Udall taught him the word teles-
The Odyssey? They make you read that? tial and suggested that ours was a world that had
Its not really philosophy, but yeah, Ive read it. fallen from Gods presence, the idea of religion con-
I know, its not philosophy, but I like what it says nected back to Plato and began, for once, to make
about home, she said, elbowing her companion. I sense. Phillip did not know that it was possible to
like what it says about families. fall away from grace or that God was anything more
than an opiate or a golden calf. It didnt really mat-
The roads were dusted in white, and black tire ter.
paths wove through the cones of their headlights. The Lord will sanctify the earth, Phillip, Sister

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Udall said. Jesus Christ is going to come again and

make everything whole. While Carol closed the car door, Phillip stood in
Hes going to have to, because Im a bundle of the darkness, watching the snow spiral starlessly to
broken mirrors right now and its your fault, he the ground. After she went inside, Phillip stooped
said, quoting Ezra Pound so he wouldnt have to down in the garage and picked up the bag of rock
think for himself and risk understanding what these salt, took it out to the front walk, and shook out
women were teaching. measured amounts onto the slowly accumulating
Carol sat quietly on the couch in his apartment snow, the memory of that Canadian day fading
with her hands folded in her lap, a Book of from his mind. He had never regretted joining the
Mormon between her hands and the corduroy folds Church or having to turn his back on everyone who
of her skirt. Even though he knew he shouldnt thought he was insane for becoming a Christian,
have, he looked down at her breasts and then up at even worse a Mormon. He had some sense now of
her name tag. Sister Udall was talking and pointing where he was headed cosmically, a sense of family
into one of her booklets. Phillip looked away in and place and history that had been missing before.
shame, and when he looked up again, Sister Udall Phillip paused and stared at his house. His hands
was leaning forward with a Book of Mormon in her were cold, and he thought briefly about shoveling
hand and her finger pointing to a passage. off the driveway and then realized that hed have to
Phillip read it aloud and when Sister Udall asked do it again in the morning. It occurred to him, too,
him if he had any feelings about the scripture, he that perhaps he had wasted the rock salt, but knew
concocted enough of a response so that she would that he was really just buying some time alone. He
continue on with the discussion and leave him to saw the kitchen light switch on, throwing a skewed
his thoughts. Carol sat silently listening to her com- yellow box on the snow in the side yard.
panion, bathed in a steady emanation of something Carol had gone inside and stood in the living
Phillip could not even begin to describe. It was as if room without taking off her coat. She heard Phillip
a storm had suddenly and completely dispersed clunking around in the garage. God bless him, she
itself back into stillness. It was not logic but poetry, thought. The house was absolutely still, unbearably,
a symphonic play of language, sense, and meaning wonderfully still. Months ago when the twins left
mixed like silt into water. The womens words on their missions, the emptiness had been a bless-
seemed foolish in his ear, Manichaean, Augustinian ing, the quiet, the peace, even the satisfaction of the
without Augustines elegance. Floating there too emptiness of the bedrooms and hallways which
was his desire for Carol, the quiet one. She was meant that the kids were falling into their own lives,
abstractly beautiful. The normal linearity of his and that the world was unfolding as it should. But
mind gave way to a crawling of filaments. Past. this contentment soon gave way to a deeper empti-
Future. Potential. He expected to feel his stomach ness that she had only been given glimpses of.
turn, to have found flaws in their logic, to have
pointed out their excluded middles and post hoc Mom, I didnt look like this, did I? Nathan
assertions. In losing its logical validity, Phillip asked, poking into the folds of the baby blanket,
hoped the conclusions would tumble, but they did saying Hi in a tinny and affected voice.
not engage him. For these women there was no Worse, she said. I wanted them to put you
metaphysics; everything was actual. Religion was back for a few more days to see if that would take
not a spiritual exercise for them, it was a way of the wrinkles out.
breathing that struck him as something more pro- Come on, Kelly, one of the twins, said. You
found than ethics, but these feelings oscillated back tell that story on all of us.
to desire, lust, fear of change, skepticism. He want- Thats because its true.
ed to call it the sublime, but all of his Kant had Kelly threw a pillow, which struck Carol in the
evaporated into the ether. chin as she caught it. She threw it back and then

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went over and lifted the baby from Nathans arms. Phillip is skittish. He sat still for the first discus-
Grandmothers privilege, she said, parting the sion. If we miss the second one, we might not get
blankets. another chance.
Oh, Maria, she said to Nathans wife. Youve Still, Sister Udall said.
cleaned up the gene pool. This baby is beautiful. Listen, Carol said through her teeth, if women
Maria looked up from the hospital bed and always waited for men to get their acts together, Eve
smiled. I told Nathan, I want to name her after would still be stuck in Eden and none of us would
you. be alive, she said, adjusting her pantyhose. Ring
Carol stopped, the room swelling around her, the the bell, and be polite.
noise of her family collapsing upon itself until an
envelope of silence sealed itself around her. She felt Carol caught herself smiling at the memory, at
immediately bound to the baby and separated from the infinite history of that transgression. She pulled
herself. Carol knew she would one day be gone and open the dishwasher and began emptying the dirty
tethered to her family by ritual and ordinance alone. dishes back out of the machine, stacking them on
the counter next to the sink. When she had fin-
Carol was still holding her coat. The furnace had ished, she fit the drain stop into the sink and turned
switched on and the house was full of the hollow on the faucet. Adding soap, she let the water rise,
rumbling of ductwork. What in the world could testing it with her fingertips. When the window
possibly be next? She imagined that enduring would began to fog, Carol shut off the water and again let
be more difficult than this, that their lives would her gaze drift out across the blur of city lights.
grow swollen with illness. As she crossed the living Everything she had ever really known, except for
room, she half-wished that the furnace would pop 18 months in Toronto and the year in Boise, was
like a ragged tire and burst into flames so there aflicker out in that valley. She stood over the sink,
would be something for her to attend to. She hung washing the dishes, feeling the slight texture of the
her coat carefully on the coat rack by the utility glaze as she passed her hand over them. The garage
room and slipped her shoes off. She grabbed hold of door rattled down, and Phillip came in from the
the edge of the sink, her thumbs locked under the garage, banging his shoes on the door jam.
lip of Formica, her forearms rigid. She listened Its snowing pretty hard out there, he said.
again: the furnace was still on and Phillip was still Carol lifted her head and saw him bent over in
outside puttering. the window reflection, tugging off his shoes. His
hair was lightly dusted in white crystals which
He had been so self-absorbed when they first met, blended in with his hair and the lights of the city as
poring over his books like some medieval scholar. if he were a figure in a mosaic.
Sister Udall did not like him, which angered Carol. What? he asked.
Smart people never get baptized, Sister Udall said. Carol hadnt noticed that she was staring. I did-
Theyre waiting for their brains to convert them. nt say anything.
They teach you that at BYU? Carol asked. Are you okay?
Sister Udall rolled her eyes and refused to answer. She fidgeted a little and then set another dish in
Carol pushed the crosswalk button and a truck the dish rack.
drew to a stop. They crossed the street and turned Carol, Phillip said, noticing the clean dishes
into the entryway of Phillips building. We should- and the sink full of suds, whats wrong?
nt be here, Sister Udall complained. Its against Carol let a fork slide back down into the dishwa-
mission rules. ter and sighed. Phillip came up behind her, watch-
Brother Boothe was supposed to be here, wasnt ing her eyes in the windows reflection, and touched
he? Carol asked. her lightly on the neck. She was wringing out a
I know, but we should try to reschedule. dishcloth, a thin stream of water dribbling into the

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sink. She looked up at him, drawing a hank of hair herself into the winter-brown fields of Idaho and
behind her ear so that she could see him more clear- then Utah as they rattled pastto be there chasing
ly. chickens or running a pail of blueberry muffins out
Phillip, she said, staring out the window across to brothers or hoeing up matted leaves on a garden
the valley, her hands still in the dishwater, I want plot. As far as she was concerned, her father could
to make love. Tonight. In the living room. Phillip barrel down the interstate without her in his faded
stared at her with her blouse half-untucked and blue pickup truck. But Amelia needed to get to Oz
spotted with dishwater. She was still full of light, to ask the wizard for a new uterus. To get rid of the
which radiated out of her the way heat seeps out of pain.
stone long after dark. He felt the bones of her pelvis Mother had stayed home to show the vet around
with his hands and the familiar weight of her body to Bessiethe mare would be foaling soonand to
against his. She relaxed slightly and leaned against make bread and vacuum the upstairs and do the
his chest until they buttressed one another. houseplants and probably crochet when the real
work was done. Dad watched TV for retirement,
Todd Robert Petersens stories have appeared in but Mom crocheted until her fingers got stiff. She
Dialogue, Sunstone, Rough Draft, Mid-American often said that if Verl would use all the time and
Review, Pleiades, Third Coast, and other journals. A energy he spent zapping the TV on a hobby, their
Ph.D. candidate in creative writing at Oklahoma house would be full of something, she didnt know
State University, he has been a visiting faculty member what. Mother had tried to get Amelia to crochet in
at BYU and is an associate editor of Cimarron her sick bed, but the closest Amelia ever came was
Review. poking her fingers endlessly through the yarn cir-
clets of her afghan, to the rhythm of her ache.
Ammy, youre gonna be all right. That was the
S T O R Y only thing her father had said on the trip down this
morning. Even when he didnt have a shaft of grass
Daughters of Hysteria or a wad of gum in his mouth, Dad had a way of
By Christopher K. Bigelow swiveling his jaw from side to side when he was
thinking. Amelia had noticed his temples pulsing
Amelia lay watching a bowl of chicken broth beneath his tan cowboy hat from the time they left
steam on the nightstand next to brown pharmacy the house at daybreak.
bottles of Percocet and Halcyon and a glass of water I have to pull over now was the only thing shed
and a dog-eared copy of The Road Less Traveled. Her said, when she spotted the Flying J just outside
auburn hair, usually curling out in every direction, Brigham Cityand she was lucky only to have to
was matted greasily to her head, and the loose skin say it once on the four-hour trip, because usually
under her large, dull eyes appeared puckered and she had to change her pad every three hours. Shed
reddened. With her knees drawn up under the spa- also wanted to buy one of those gigantic conven-
cious, striped nightshirt her mother had made her, ience store cups of Diet Mountain Dew, which she
Amelia pressed a finger on her tender solar plexus in normally couldnt drink around her overly Word-of-
an attempt to detour her awareness from the ache a Wisdom mother. The soda soothed her stomach
foot below, at her core. Dads TV murmured from and the caffeine helped cut through the pain killers
down the hall, beckoning her to a kinetic, air- and sleeping pills. Whenever her dad smuggled a
brushed world she was too tired and sore to sit up Diet Mountain Dew home to her from town (along
and enter. with his own equally taboo Dr. Pepper), Amelia
Amelia had been to see Doctor Lythgoe in Salt imagined it was the secret antidote that could save
Lake City this morning. Shed cradled herself the her uterus.
whole way down I-15 in the dawn, trying to project Shed been on her period for two months straight

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now, three weeks longer than Doctor Lythgoe had But she especially hated the happy, harried preg-
said hed allow her to go; it wasnt a period anymore, nant Mormon women she sometimes had to wait
it was an exclamation point, a whole row of them. with, all smiling and red-cheeked and thinking
Not that she hadnt always had a rough period. Ever about their other six children at home while Amelia
since she was thirteen, her curse had kept her home sat there cradling her stomach, wondering if shed
in bed with cramps for at least three days out of ever be able to give birth even once. Would she ever
every month. At the first of this year, her cycle had have babies with hair or eyes just like her own? Most
unexplainably shortened from twenty-eight days to women had to hurt for only a few hours and look
fifteen, and then to eight. By March she was bleed- what they got for their pains. Amelias pain was pur-
ing constantly and had to give up her Salt Lake City poseless, even diabolical. It wasnt part of Gods plan
apartment and move back north to her parents at all. In fact, sometimes she thought of God as hav-
house. Shed been changing her pads at least seven ing put a lump of coal in her stocking instead of an
times a day for weeks now, giving up tampons at orange. Why?
Doctor Lythgoes request, which shed preferred ever Occasionally, one of the Mormon mothers would
since she got over thinking that Toxic Shock ask Amelia how far along she was. Amelia would
Syndrome was another latter-day plague like AIDS. say, Im not expectingIm ill, and the woman
Lately, shed been having a recurring nightmare of would murmur an apology and go back to scrib-
Turners Market running out of Playtex Maxi-pads, bling her grocery list or thumbing through diaper
and shed asked her mother to start stockpiling and formula ads. Once, a lady had launched into
boxes in the food storage roombut she was kid- the story of her Aunt LaFarne whod suffered prob-
ding herself. Even before what happened this morn- lems with her own plumbing and couldnt bear
ing, she knew that Doctor Lythgoe wasnt going to children for eight years, until a priesthood blessing
let this go much further. from her husband and the hometeachers had mirac-
ulously freed up her fountains and shed birthed
Amelia rolled over and stared at the ceiling of her four boys before they dried up again. Amelia too
bedroom, where she could almost see Doctor had received blessings from her priesthood men, but
Lythgoes butterflies moving crazily like they did on they hadnt worked yetand her patriarchal bless-
the wallpaper in his waiting room. The butterflies ing said that she would have children, though no
always had Amelia quite annoyed by the time she one could ever be sure if a patriarchal blessing
was admitted to the inner sanctum, which often meant now or during the Millennium. Once, lock-
took hours because the best gynecologist in the state ing his office door as if ashamed to be practicing
was always behind schedule. The only reason she some kind of quackery, Doctor Lythgoe himself had
could tolerate waiting for Doctor Lythgoe was that given her a priesthood blessing of strength and heal-
he always spent a long time with her once she got in, ing.
probing her gently in the white examination room After the cold, white, antiseptic-smelling exami-
and then counseling with her in his plush office. nation room this morning, Amelia had lowered her-
But she hated his waiting room. She hated the self carefully into the stout wicker chair in Dr.
wallpaper and the butterfly-shaped lamp fixtures Lythgoes office, gingerly settling her sterile weight
that looked sick and jaundiced with their low- on an ivory-colored pillow that had been smashed
wattage bulbs under yellow shades. She hated the flat by many well-ballasted pregnant patients. As the
surly, jealous receptionist Julie and the white ceram- doctor moved around to his leather chair, she
ic mother-with-child hanging over the blue sofa and snatched a pink tissue that was taunting her from
the Parenting, New Mother, and Working Mother the brass cover on the corner of the desk: Come on,
magazines scattered on the coffee table and the rack honey. Youll be needing me any moment now. You
of pamphlets on the wall about breast-feeding and always do when you come see Dr. Lythgoe.
natural childbirth. Amelia knew that he had been a Mormon bishop

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in his personal lifethat was the main reason she termed a chemical hysterectomy, meant to be
trusted him with more than just her medical prob- temporary because Amelia would keep her uterus in
lems. He knew how to counsel people better than the long run. Sometimes the bleeding tapered off
her parents Bishop Jacobi up in Blackfoot, Idaho, for a day or two but it was always back, flowing
who always opened his desk drawer and fiddled thick and dark and bringing the cramps back with
with rubber bands and paper clips while she talked, it, making her nauseous when she caught scent of it
and who usually responded with, Read the scrip- in the bathroom.
tures and pray about it, like a doctor saying, Take Somethings got to be done right away. We just
two aspirin. As usual, shed let loose to Doctor cant have you bleeding and suffering like this,
Lythgoe this morning about how sick she was of Amelia. I recommend an immediate hysterectomy.
pain and being in bed all the time and missing work Doctor Lythgoes eyebrows collapsed, and he placed
at Giovannis Cabaret and missing her morning his palms on the desktop.
accounting class at the community college and At the word hysterectomy, Amelia felt her uterus
changing her pad and feeling so doped up she kick like there was a baby in it. A hysterectomy was
couldnt do anything meaningful or productive, not the worst-case contingency. No. Absolutely not. Im
even crochet or watch TV with her dad. Even as she having kids. She wanted to stand up and tell the
let her frustrations spew, she knew she wasnt help- doctor that he was wrong and that he had no right
ing her caseshe was just giving Dr. Lythgoe more to practice medicine if he couldnt help her with
reasons to take drastic steps. But she couldnt help something like this. If you took my heart youd have
herself. to give me a new one, wouldnt you, Doctor Lythgoe.
The doctor had listened this morning with his Well, its the same with my uterus.
lips pursed and his wispy, silver eyebrows bobbing On the other hand, shed wanted to just get up
up and down at just the right moments. When he and leave, drop her wadded pink tissue on the floor
sat up straighter and rolled his finger along the side and walk out the door. Go find another doctor who
of his nose, as he did whenever it was getting close could help her. Call Massachusetts herself. But
to his turn to speak wisdom, Amelia had felt relief instead, shed calmed herself down by staring at her
start to spread over her like shed just taken a belly and fingering the protective roll around it. She
Percocet for the soul. But instead of counseling her had come to feel that her body purposely deposited
spiritually this morningthe good stuff, about the fat around her middle instead of so much in her
purpose of suffering and how to maintain inner thighs and buttocks because it was extra padding for
peace and balancethe doctor had talked straight her fragile reproductive organs, even if it did make
medicine. The bad kind of medicine. her look like a pear.
Im afraid there isnt any improvement in your What would I do with myself, Doctor Lythgoe?
condition, Amelia, and Ive run out of options. Who would marry me if I couldnt have kids? She
Youve practically been in mild labor for over a began to cry again.
month. If I didnt know better, Id say your uterus Amelia, no one can marry you if youre too sick
was trying to give birth to itself. My associates in to attend the ceremony. Or if youre not around at
Massachusetts and California havent come up with all.
anything either. You dont have endometriosis. No
sign of cancer or cysts. The shots should have Father had spent his time in Salt Lake this morn-
worked by now. ing shopping at the big wholesale farmer-supply
Doctor Lythgoes course of action so far had been outlets: hed loaded up the back of the pickup with
to douse Amelias system with hormones to trick her packages of seeds and peat moss for the spring gar-
rebelling uterus. Theyd started with regular birth den, which would be bigger than Amelias whole
control pills and moved up to injected male and Salt Lake apartment had been. When they got
female hormones, to achieve what Doctor Lythgoe home, Mother had taken Amelias arm and helped

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her down the stairs to her girlhood bedroom in the in the morning, when shed have to get up to change
basement, where Amelia insisted she stay though her pad and take another Percocet.
Mother had tried to put her upstairs in the guest Should she reach for another pain pill now? She
room. A bottle of Diet Mountain Dew dropped out did ache, but the nightstand was so far away and she
of Amelias handbag when she tossed it on the bed, didnt want to dip her fingers in cold soup or knock
and Mother snatched it up, clucking. Amelia pic- the bowl to the floor, both of which shed done
tured it fizzing down the drain, yellow-green like before. She turned over, rolling with the cramp, and
urine. was groping to switch off the heating pad when the
Her middle was so sore after the day of walking clouds started.
around and bumping in the truck that Amelia went They issued from under the windows floor-
straight to the nightstand and swallowed a couple of length curtains, gray-white billows that looked
extra pain killers and one more sleeping pill than thicker and softer than smoke or steam. They
usualshe could feel them all whispering together brought light into the room with them, a soft
now in her head as she lay trying to fall asleep. brightness reflected from somewhere. Amelia
Halcyon especially had a way of making her eyeballs watched as the curtains disappeared, the closet
feel like they were deflating through a slow leak at doors, the dresser. She wasnt alarmed because some-
the tear duct. By the time Amelia had returned from times Halcyon did things like this, but usually in
the bathroom, Mother had brought soup and psychedelic colors instead of just white. She noticed
turned down her bed and was waiting on her knees, dreamily that the fog had begun swirling into a
ready to say a bedtime prayer with her daughter at whirlpool shape. She thought she could smell cot-
8:00 in the evening. ton candy.
Then Amelia clutched the sheet under her chin Her breath hitched in sharply: a little girl was just
and let Mother push the stringy hair back from her sort of there in front of the clouds, about three feet
forehead. Mom, Doctor Lythgoe wants me to have from the side of the bed. She wore a creamy beige
a hysterectomy. blouse with long sleeves and no collar, and she was
Maybe you have to, Amelia. Doctor Lythgoe barefoot. Her hair was long and blonde, and it bil-
knows best. lowed behind her in the swirling clouds. She looked
Amelia could discern no mourning for lost maybe eight years old. Her eyes were blue, and she
grandchildren in her mothers smile. Mother too was crying, holding her cheek with one hand. She
had suffered feminine problems, had been able to glared down at Amelia.
have only one childbut at least she had that. Mother! The childs sob sounded strangely flat
Amelia took Mothers hand and pulled it under the and distant in the vapors. If you have that opera-
sheet, placing it just above her pubis. tion you wont have me!
Will you rub me for awhile? The girl stepped backwards into the clouds.
Mother had slipped away when she thought Amelia wrenched the sheet up over her head. Its my
Amelia was asleep, but Amelia wasnt. She was still daughter, its my daughter, and if I get a hysterectomy
trying to focus on her solar plexus and think about she wont ever be born and it will be my fault. Shell be
her uterus at the same time. Wasnt she good stuck in the preexistence as a disembodied spirit and
enough to bring children into the world? Heavenly Father will blame me.
She had to get some air, get away from the smell
Amelia woke suddenly, feeling sweat between her of her own bad blood. When she lowered the sheet,
legs and on her forehead. She threw the blanket off the little girl was gone. Amelia took a deep breath
to her waist and breathed in the night air. The dig- and felt tears on her face in the chill air. No more
ital clock on the dresser read 1:05. She couldnt extra sleeping pills for me. She glimpsed a red 1:26
imagine what had awakened hereven one floating in the clouds where the dresser would be.
Halcyon usually took her through till 3:00 or 4:00 The white swirled thickly near her bedside again,

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and another little girl appeared. Amelia moaned and Christopher K. Bigelow holds an M.A. in English
hugged herself, closing her eyes. She felt as if shed from Brigham Young University and a B.F.A. in writ-
been vomiting and a second wave was coming on ing, literature, and publishing from Emerson College,
now. This child had brown hair and eyes. Her nose Boston. He has worked as an editor at the Ensign mag-
had more of a swell to it than her predecessors, and azine and is founder and comanaging editor of
her chin was longer. Her blouse was blue. Amelia IRREANTUM. He lives in Provo, Utah. This story previ-
wanted to plug her ears, but she couldnt let go of ously appeared in somewhat different form in Entropy.
her stomach. Was this another daughter come to
torment her?
Then she felt a cold, soft hand on her slick cheek.
She opened her eyes, and the girl smiled down at N O V E L
her. You better have that operation, Mother, or you E X C E R P T
might die. Ill still come to you.
The girl stepped back, folding herself into the
white. Amelia cried out to the clouds, but she was
The Bond of Love
By Margaret Young and Darius Gray
gone. She watched the vapors flow under her bed-
room door until the last wisp disappeared into the
[An excerpt from One More River to Cross, the
crack of darkness, leaving the room in shadow.
first novel in the fact-based trilogy Standing on the
Amelias hands and feet were tingling. The clock on
Promises, forthcoming from Bookcraft. Elijah Abel,
the dresser glowed 1:34.
one of the first black Mormon converts, and his family
She let herself lie back slowly, aware again of the
have taken the Underground Railroad to Canada.
throbbing pain below her stomach. Halcyon
From this point, Abel will head toward Ohio, where he
snowflakes of blue and pink swirled in the air above
will meet the Mormons. The year is 1831.]
her. She closed her eyes and realized that the first
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples
girl had looked much like the girlhood pictures of
(John 13:35).
Amelias own mother.
In the dark, Amelia put her hand to her cheek
Delilah Abel lived a few more months, until some
where the second girl had touched her. She felt her-
hints of spring appeared, though the ground was
self slipping down the shaft of a new reality.
still hard. Daniel and Jeremiah had left hernot

because they wanted to, but because she insisted.
Mother came in soon after dawn to replace the
Parting time had come, and the Abels had divided
cold bowl on the nightstand with one of steaming,
themselves freely here in the Lions Paw. Elijah, with
hot cereal and to open the curtains. She shook out
his manumission papershe was safe. And Mama
the first pills of the day next to the stale-beaded glass
declared shed be perfectly safe herself before long,
of water that seemed forever half-full and lukewarm
curled in the bosom of Jesus. But she wanted Daniel
to Amelia. Immediately upon awaking, Amelia nes-
and Jeremiah further north. Rumor had it there was
tled her finger in the indentation of her solar plexus
gold up there. A fine life might be waiting for them,
and began to push.
so she told them to set forth and discover it. They
My broth not have enough flavor last night?
resisted some, but not for long. Elijah gave them his
Usually you at least eat some. Mother sat on the
cloak as a good-bye gift, telling them theyd surely
edge of the bed, bustling against Amelias pain.
meet againthe Abels were meant to be together
Youd better call Dr. Lythgoe, Mom. Amelia
and hed more than likely want it back, so theyd
winced as she pulled herself up against her wooden
best care for it well. The boys had nodded, hugged
headboard. Im ready to do the hysterectomy.
Mama close, then set out.
In the poor shelterpart dugout, part cabin
which the brothers had framed from half-burned

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wood and rusty, bent nails from an abandoned He shrugged again. I aint askin does you pray.
camp, Elijah held his mamas hand in her last hour. Askin does you believe. For sure.
She said simply, Better. She looked at him long, her face so full of pity
You feelin better, Mama? he asked. and love, it would haunt him for the rest of his life.
No. You be better, son. I know you prays, Mama, he breathed, not
Im fine, Mama. moving his eyes from hers. What I dont know is if
She gazed at him. Her eyes and skin were already God ever hear your prayers. It just seems you aint
wearing the death sheen. Listen. You be better, been treated fair. Thats all. If theres a God.
Lijah. She coughed. Another prelude, not a long spell.
Now Mama, he laughed, I aint the one sick. Lijah, she said, you listen. He had to come close
Make yoself better. She coughed. He wiped her to her lips to hear. They is a God. There is a God.
chin with her good head wrapthe white one He answered quietly, Massa say to me once, the
stiff with blood, though he snow-washed it daily. All devil love black flesh.
her coughs had blood in them now. Massa? It sounded like she was damning Massa
Massa told me, he said, theres to be a college. by hissing his title with one of her last draws of air.
Down Ohio. They take black and white. He was part jokin.
Her eyes went wide. Back in United States? You Not much joke, Mama whispered.
plan on What if Elijah started, then turned his head
Ohio. away. What if God dont love black flesh?
Slave country? God. She sighed out long, like this would be
WellOhio. her final word. God know colored folks even bet-
Lijah. She coughed. Don you know? Even ter than he know white. Thats the biggest secret this
with them papers you got, down in the United side of heaven.
States, some mean soul might take you for a run- Know us better?
away and sell you south. She took in a deep, rattly breath, trying to gather
He wiped her chin, then took her hands. Not if enough air to make a fine departing speech. Gods
I outruns em. got him one good heart, Lijah. The best heart of
You outrun a musket ball, do you, son? any. Another cough. That heart ache for the one
Oh I be fast! what suffers most. Ache for us, Lijah.
What you need to be is careful. Preacher say that? He couldnt recall any
He smiled, then dropped it. Mama, you believe preachment about Gods heart, couldnt even recall
in the devil? he asked. any particular preacher words, only the hand-rais-
She closed her eyes, didnt answer for quite a ing energy behind them and the mention of what
while. Then, Man make enough wickedness with- kind of soap God usedsoap so strong it could
out no devil helpin, she said. Thats what I bleach blood. Not lye soap, but something like
thinks. Though I guess theres a devil somewheres, whole soap or full soap. Who preached that? he
laughing away. She watched Elijah, her eyes glassy, asked, for he truly wished to remember.
waitingeither for his words or for the real cough No preacher. Just my own self. What I feels.
spell they both knew was building. You got the call, Mama? he chuckled.
You believe in God? Elijah asked. She gave him a wry look. Oh, the call comin,
Her face wrinkled itself up. Now why do you ask she said, and then once more: God.
that? You know I prays. This was the weak version Who is God? he asked as though she could really
of her scold voice. Years ago, she couldve used it like tell him. What you feel when God be talkin to you?
thunder and stopped a body in its tracks. Now it Well, aint you feeled it yoself?
was the echo of what it once had been. You sees me He shrugged. Not for sure.
pray. Some nights when the stars is fallin, aint you

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feeled it? Now her words were gone dreamy. wasnt long after. Now that was another picture
Not too much. Elijah kept in his head, though he never did actual-
Like them stars is set to rip the night open and ly see it: his daddy standing like a statue on a block.
show us the very face of God with tears streaming He could not remember his daddys face, but fig-
down his cheeks just for us? Oh, I feel that some ured it mustve looked like his own face did now.
nights! Aint you? Yes, Andrew Abel wouldve been near Elijahs age
He wanted to say yes, but couldnt. Not any I when he tried running off.
recall just now. He wondered if Gods face looked With great effortso strong it showed her neck
like a bright version of Massas, or if a colored mans tendons like bonesDelilah lifted her head,
God wore a colored mans face. How were His eyes? propped herself on one elbow. Jesus know you,
Did He smile? son. Jesus got big plans for you. Settin you free!
Mama grasped his hand. Hers was cold and dry. The words were rasps. Her face lines were looking
Jesus, she said. more like silver than charcoal, and he knew she was
Pictures of Jesus most generally showed reddish going fast, all her blood coming to a halt, settling
hair, blue eyes. So was that Jesus? He wondered if down for a long rest, no more running through this
his mama might be seeing the Lord this very particular body.
moment. What bout Jesus? he asked. Then why Elijah began.
Lijah, Jesus feel the whip ever time it hit black Why He let us get hurt? She took in wind that
skin. Jesus knows, honey. And if they do be a devil, sounded more like dry grain. It makes us brave.
you know what I thinks? Son, that be the refiners fire. That be the fuller
No maam. soap.
She tried for a smile, which didnt amount to There it wasthe name of Gods soap! Fuller.
much. I thinks every time he watch that ol cow Gods was fuller soap than any human could con-
skin lash up slave flesh, it make him laugh same way coct. One whiff would clean out a set of lungs.
it done when they hit Jesus. That ol devil, he know Elijah repeated the name so he wouldnt forget it.
Jesus love us. Every time Mr. Devil watch us suffer, Fuller soap.
why thats like watching Jesus gettin one more hit. Jesus, she said again, He want us glitterin like
Thats what I thinks. Must make the old devil a diamond, same as Him.
howl. Her mouth puckered like she was set to kiss I believe in God, he said.
her son good-bye. Instead, she expelled a little He had considered God seriously years ago. He
cough, still nothing serious. And then the white had said those very words to himself one afternoon,
folks go to church, dont they, and fold they hands and not resaid them until this day.
under the man on the cross. They never even imag- Before the rest of the slaves had got themselves
ine they doin Jesus torture all over again, every time sold off, they had had a happy church with good
they rope up slave hands and pull out that whip. singing and sometimes a circuit preacher to quote
Good joke, aint it. them Bible verses. Later, there hadnt seemed much
Not much, Elijah said. He had seen only one point to church, besides which the nearest black
slave whippedhis own daddy, Andrew Abel. That congregation was a half-days ride from Massas
was the first memory of his life: the long-gone over- place. So they had pretty much quit religion
seer taking a curling whip to Andrew Abels back though indeed, Mama still prayed every day of her
and cutting to blood with every lick. The whipping life, and many times in the day. And there had been
was because Andrew had run off. But he had not that particular afternoonoh, so many years back
run far enough. Dogs smelled him out within two he had mostly forgotten itwhen Elijah himself
days. Delilah Abel had wrapped her husbands back had declared there was a God, though he didnt
in a grease-cloth after that punishment. Andrew know how to picture this God or even if a body
stank of lard until the day he got sold off, which could picture God or even if a body should. Then

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he had said those words that if a preacher had heard waiting inside him if God would hear his request
him say before a congregation, wouldve been fol- and answer it so quick.
lowed by everyones shout of Hallelujah! But he He didnt weep. Elijah Abel had never been a
had said them alone, in private, talking to a half-fin- weeper. He built his mamas coffinthe very first
ished table. He hadnt repeated them until now, nor he ever made. He used wood from the strangers
made any steady progress toward whatever or who- shanty, and a rusty old saw the stranger had left as
ever God was. Only at this moment, next to his though for this very purpose. Then he heated tin
dying mother, did he recall having declared himself after tin of water and poured it on the ground until
a believer. the dirt was soft enough to dig. The stranger had
Delilah traced his nose and jawbones with her provided him a half-broken shovel too, which
finger. I done this when you was born, she said. worked fine enough for this end.
You know that? The moment his mama passed, an other-world
Dont remember so far back, Mama. peace filled him. But the deeper he dug, the thinner
Well I done it. I touch yo face. My first baby got that peace stretched, the more his sorrow had
took away fore I ever see him. They say he be dead, turned the edge toward anger, until he had sweated
but I never know for sure. away every drop of comfort, and was out loud curs-
You aint ever told me. ing the dirt, then cursing Massa, then cursing what-
Then Jeremiah come, then Daniel. I make sure ever slave ship it was kidnapped his kin from Africa,
every time, my baby was full-made and lively. And and finally even cursing the very God he had said he
then you. Her coughs were not growing deeper, believed in. By the time he buried his mama, he was
just weaker, and her words were coming so soft and fit to find someone to kill. He had never suspected
slow. I try to picture how you might look this very there was such fury inside him, and such an ability
day, in your manhood. My my, you even better than to shout when nobody was around to hear. But
I thought! Lijah, you everything to me. every inch he dug into the earth, he was digging
And you everything to me too. I do anything in into his own soulthe soul Massa said he didnt
this world for you. haveand finding not any residue of peace, only
She smiled dimly, then asked him to pray God let anger and ice.
her die quick, not drawn out over days. She didnt
want to go hacking and breathless the way she had Margaret Young, a creative writing instructor at
seen some go, when it was consumption strangling BYU, is the author of the novels House without Walls
them so tight their souls could hardly find a path- (Deseret Book, 1991) and Salvador (Aspen, 1992),
way out of their bodies. and the story collections Elegies and Love Songs
He didnt want to pray this woman dead, but he (University of Idaho Press, 1992) and Love Chains
did itin the first out-loud prayer of his life: (Signature, 1997).
God? Whoever or whatever you be, if you wants
her that bad, would you please take her quick and Darius Gray is the president of Genesis, a Church-
dont make her to suffer any worse than she already sponsored support group for African-American
done. Mormons. He has worked as a broadcast journalist
Say Jesus, she whispered. and administrator for KBYU and KSL, and helped
You see Him, Mama? produce the PBS series Ancestors.
My Lord! Delilah inhaled deep, lungs rattling.
Jesus! he said, and repeated the name as a breeze Notes
came around him. Oh, Jesus! Take my mama! The chapter title, The Bond of Love is taken
And with those words, on the wings of that from hymn 544 in Hymns for the Family of God.
breeze, Delilah Abel passed. Words by Otis Skillings.
Elijah wondered what kind of power might be According to Lester Bush, Abel was born in

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Maryland, [but] his family was later from Canada, Call for Fiction and Drama
raising the question of his having made use of the IRREANTUM is actively seeking submissions of fic-
underground railroad (Negro Policy in Neither tion and drama with Mormon characters and
White Nor Black, p. 33). themes. With all rights reverting to the author upon
According to Marie Taylors research, Elijah Abels publication, we encourage professional writers to
missionary certificate reports his father as Andrew preview in IRREANTUM excerpts from forthcoming
Abel, which dispels the once popular rumor that novels, story collections, plays, and filmsinclud-
Elijah Abel was a fair-skinned mulatto, possibly his ing works in progress. We encourage developing
masters son. We must assume that Andrew Abel writers to send us their best work. For more infor-
for whatever reasondid not remain with his fam- mation on what were looking for, please see
ily, for Elijahs patriarchal blessing mentions that Send
Elijahs father [had] not done his duty towards queries and manuscripts to <> or
him. IRREANTUM, c/o the Association for Mormon
According to the records of baptisms for the Letters, 1925 Terrace Drive, Orem, UT 84097.
dead, Elijahs mother (for whom he was baptized)
was named Delilah, as was a daughter (of whom we
have no record other than this ordinance).
Bringhursts Changing Status article (see full ref- P O E T R Y
erence below) cites the Nauvoo Temple records
Book A100 as follows: Delila Abel bapt. In the April 1996
instance of Elisha [sic] Abel. Rel Son. Bapt. 1840,
Book A Page 1 and Delila Abel bapt. In the Earth rushes up to catch him
instance of Elijah Abel, 1841, Rel. Dau. Book A cushions, embraces, then releases
page 5. In Elijahs ordination to the priesthood flings him high toward the heavens
office of a Seventy, his mother is listed as Elila so blue
rather than Delilah. She is reported to have been and blue
originally from South Carolina. and endless blue
sunlight splashes in his eyes
Works Consulted five springs old
Bringhurst, Newell. Elijah Abel and the he wrestles clouds
Changing Status of Blacks in the Mormon swallows butterflies
Church. In Lester Bush and Armand Mauss, eds. bathes in dirt
Neither White Nor Black. Midvale, Utah: Signature,
1984. I watch, entranced
Bush, Lester. Mormonisms Negro Policy. In wrist-deep in suds
Lester Bush and Armand Mauss, eds., Neither White held hostage by a greasy pot
Nor Black. until a joy (or is it longing?)
Taylor, Marie. Personal interview with authors, so deep and sharp it cuts
10 February 2000. releases
sends me bounding
hands still dripping
out into that place
that vast expanse of time and space
where I can leap and run
and drink the wind
together with my child

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We dance and to that small and cherished captor at my

and then with outstretched arms breast.
we touch the sky
residual suds on hands Sharlee Mullins Glenn
and wrists
both his and mine (I shared) A biographical note for Sharlee Mullins Glenn
catch the light appears with her essay earlier in this issue of
break it into a thousand tiny IRREANTUM.
shimmering rainbows
that pop!
Gold Time
and then are gone.
My aunt in heaven
Sharlee Mullins Glenn laughs
as she stands close
in this moment
Blood and Milk knowing Ive quit
my job to do what I love
I dreamed of Oxford . . . knowing fear
(spires a thousand spires and endless lectures and hope slice me
in musty halls a solitary self in a Bodleian as oranges for breakfast
A good life my dear Wormwood. An orderly she laughs heaven side
life.) celebrating
then awakened to laundry sound glancing
and things to be wiped glacier to glacier
(countertops, noses, bottoms) in Uintahs
gold filled still
How did this happen? And when, exactly? under true blue October skies
Time flows, it flows, it flows the sound falling white
And there are choices to be made: upon me rinsing
left or right? off fear
paper or plastic? off sins and mortality
blood or milk? like hers
three years ago
Which will it be? The latitude of blood
or the servitude of milk? rinsed clear
the casket and pall
Ah, but its an empty freedom; a holy bondage the body
A sweet and holy bondage. her clothing
all white
Five times I chose the chains, those tender chains, like her hair
(though once will bind you just as well!) since twenty-one
and checked the crimson flow. red roses and red
Suckled while dreaming of Trinity Term nails
but awakened, always awakened, to the laundry the only color

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like drops of blood in Provo, Utah, with her husband and children, where
on a white handkerchief she is working on a series of fantasy novels.
among pale people
Broken Pansy*
but she stood
beyond in the choir seats Wind and sun in your eyes
windows pouring gold you withstand harsh mornings,
standing in blue circles quiet evenings, and frail seasons.
of love
met by husband You are witness
two sons whose blood to those who mourn
would not clot and those merely passing through
by family with callous curious glance.
by friends
gathering Some of this earths humanity
like we at her funeral are brilliant perennials undaunted
even by drought. Others tacitly emerge
but not to mourn in tight-budded promise only to wither
no time in the first killing frost.
greeting this One
and that For you, it doesnt matter. You
no time for music resonating stand the post, as guard, sentinel,
loss marble reminder
for words sighed out of purple and gold in summer
spread silk to hold her gardens of the living.
Mildred Barthel
my dear dead
departed aunt * Marble grave marker for Lallis Thatcher, infant
her laughter great-grandson of Brigham Young and wife Mary
mists off a warm earth Ann Angell, Logan, Utah, cemetery.
ringing blue carillon bells
as we stand together
as I choose my gold time You Know Scent of Beauty
my yes time (for sons when they marry)
and move my earthside closer
to Home so I trust you to pick a woman
who in friction of needs
Jolayne Call can trellis morning glories

piece together trembling worlds

Jolayne Call was born and raised in southern with small stitches
Alberta, Canada. She graduated from the University of smooth disarray
Alberta and holds a masters degree from BYU. She has with songs that reach your
thirteen brothers and sisters and six children. She lives finger-touch memory

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of a mother that sends you Your wrinkles are small pleats of furrowed silk,
to commitment armed with Gathers of time sewn on your face.
fragrant bouquets. I want to sweep you up into a waltz,
both of us moving gracefully, unbound,
You know how to sift out weeds unfettered to the rhythm of His feet
and send flowers. Especially send beyond the cruel confines of beauty.
hand picked, heart chosen, armsfull
for air-grown-stiff-Decembers. Carol Clark Ottesen

Mildred Barthel
The Sweet Potato Man
Mildred Barthel was born in 1924 of New York Jinan, Shandong, China
Dutch ancestry and graduated from Western Maryland
College in 1946. She and her medical doctor husband What does it matter in the bloody history of this
joined the Church in Iowa in 1965, where she served place
as Relief Society president for the five years prior to how you lost your leg.
their 1995 move to Utahand the five years after. You sit on a small stool in the dirt
Ill get it right soon, she says. In the meantime I am face a yellow raisin, brown hands caked with soil,
having a ball. stump covered by pants drawn up with a pin,
beside you a rusty drum yields
steaming potatoes you hold with bare hands.
Woman with Bound Feet
Christian Church, Jinan, Shandong, China Eating as we walk, we do not think of you.
Only sometimes I wonder if once
You, in black, sit primly on the bench, feet when you worked among the vines
Just above the floor a steaming girl came by with buttered lips
What distortions fill your padded shoes? to say come with me to my cornfield,
Did you weep the day they bound your feet? my sweet potato man.
How did you balance water on your back,
plow the field, follow water buffalo? Carol Clark Ottesen

In China Church is not wholly acceptable.

You risk. And wear the clothes of every day. The Crow at 4:00 A.M.
Perhaps you come to see the nail marks in His feet,
the body a grim monument to pain, A crow swoops low and sharp across my morning
see suffering as a cloak of holiness, cutting a swath through silence
or maybe there is no where else to go. of dark dreams that fall
in glittering pieces on my bed.
I think my feet hurt, bound as in a dream
of trying to get somewhere and not. The baby in the next room purrs;
My mother standing at the mirror says, I rise to shut the windows against the raucous dark.
It takes pains to be beautiful, my dear. I would stay the world block the sound
I work and try again to fix my eyes. that covers both of us
Vanity crushes spirit, with a price
too high for what we get or give. but he was born in violence,
conceived in passion

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I shall learn to love the crow The earth so dry that not a cricket stirs.
who tears the light of morning with his cry. Nothing stirs. The bees are quiet.
The air is like lead.
Carol Clark Ottesen Nothing will unlatch the belt around our necks
But to hold out for a breath of prayer.
Carol Clark Ottesen taught in the Honors And wait through the dark hot fire.
Department at BYU; at California State University,
Dominguez Hills; and at Los Angeles Harbor Marilyn Brown
Community College. She also taught English at
Shandong Medical University, Jinan, China, for a Marilyn Brown began as a poet at BYU. Now liv-
year. She has a book of poetry published by Bookcraft, ing in Hobble Creek Canyon in Springville, Utah, she
a nonfiction book published by University Press of and her husband, Bill Brown, have founded the Villa
America, and poems in Sunstone and Dialogue. She Institute of the Performing Arts. She is the author of
is a winner of the Sunstone Foundations D.K. Brown several novels, including Thorns of the Sun, which
Short Story contest and won first place in the essay con- draws its title from the phrase in this poem.
test at the Mormon Arts Festival 1999. The poems in
this issue come from a new manuscript, Dance
Squarely on the Stones. Carol lives in Mapleton, Rx
Utah, with her retired dentist husband.
My silent pharmacist
Takes bowl and pestle,
Heat Lines cut-glass antique
Bottles on blue shelves
The heat sits around growing fat: Removes the cloud-glass
A woman with a soiled apron Stoppers and begins His
Sucking up summers fruit Measure
Blotting up the morning air
By the size of her flesh, Into a bowl of solitude,
Extracting the moisture like milk Tinctured with Darkness
And holding it so fast in her pores from a cloud-decked
That it crawls gluttonous into every room. sky
Mix well, in equal parts:
A man whose pockets are already full The scent of apricots
Taking cherries and crushing The gloss of lemon leaves
The seeds in his teeth The tang of sweet geraniums
Until the fire in his mouth burns The breath of apples round and ripe
While his gums fatten and spread,
While the fire smokes in his eyes With admixture of silent Birdflight
And settles, curling like a cat on his neck Butterflys erratic fancy
And crawls down his spine to his feet Cats quietude
Girdling him like a new tree.
Color to pleasure with
Nothing between the man and the woman skies and seas and eyes
Will be sane Inhale deeply daily
After these thorns of the sun
Burn and scrape Michael Collings

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Michael R. Collings is professor of English, director world? In searching for the answer to this question,
of creative writing, and poet-in-residence at she consults a wise old man who sends her on a
Pepperdine University, where he has taught for over 21 strange journey. Tathea travels through many coun-
years. His professional interests include poetry; science tries, accompanied by a mysterious stranger, and at
fiction, fantasy, and horror literature and theory; epic the end is given a beautiful book in which is written
theory and practice (he is the author of a full-length the truth she seeks. She returns with the book to
Renaissance-style epic drawn from Book of Mormon discover that in fact only a single night has passed.
narratives); and writing in any of its forms. He has Tathea sets out to read and understand the message
written studies of fantasists including Orson Scott in the book, and then to carry this message to all the
Card, Stephen King, and Dean R. Koontz, as well as people of the world. In this she is opposed by
bibliographies for Card, King, Peter Straub, and oth- Asmodeus, a fallen spirit dedicated to the destruc-
ers. He is the stake organ specialist in Thousand Oaks, tion of humanity and Tatheas personal enemy.
California, where he lives with his wife in close prox- Mormon readers will not find it difficult to see
imity to their four children and two grandchildren. the deeper meaning beneath the fantasy story: the
book Tathea brings to the world contains the gospel
as taught by the Church, and the story is in general
an explanation of gospel principles for non-LDS
R E V I E W S readers. It is not, however, a straightforward
retelling of the Joseph Smith story or even of the
Fractured Fantasy history of creation, despite an early scene in which
A review of Anne Perrys Tathea (Shadow Tathea witnesses the council in heaven. At one
Mountain, 1999) point we learn that Tathea lives in a world in the
By Melissa Proffitt same universe as our own, one of those worlds
without number created by God (see Moses 1:33).
I am a devoted reader of fantasy fiction, so I There is no Christ here; his atonement is acknowl-
approached Anne Perrys latest novel, Tathea, with edged to have happened on another world (i.e. our
some trepidation. Since Perry is famous for her own) but has effect even for the people of Tatheas.
Victorian mystery novels, I questioned how well she Perrys method is to draw elements from all eras of
would be able to make the switch to a different Christianity: there is, naturally, the golden book,
genre. Complicating this task is the fact that not analogous to the golden plates as well as to the book
only is Tathea a fantasy, its a fantasy-allegory depict- John the Revelator saw in vision; there is a spiritual
ing the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of leader, Tugomir, who is the exact equivalent of
Latter-day Saints in a fictional setting. While I Saul/Paul; the techniques Asmodeus uses to tempt
respect both Perrys courage in trying something men and women are the same used by Satan in our
new and her desire to write about her belief in the world. Tathea is therefore neither strict allegory nor
gospel, I cant call Tathea an unqualified success. loose reinterpretation, but I am inclined to class it
Perrys testimony of faith is resoundingly clear, but as allegory nevertheless. The essence of the novel is
the rest of the novel is a dull and unsatisfactory fan- the fictionalized treatment of the gospel itself, rather
tasy. than a retelling of related historical events such as
Tathea opens with a scene of destruction and the restoration.
betrayal. Rebels murder the Isarch of Shinabar and In addition to the basic facts of the gospel, Perry
his young heir, and the widowed and childless also touches on the challenges faced by individuals
Empress Tathea must flee for her life. Devastated by who try to live by its tenets. Often in LDS popular
her loss, Tathea begins to wonder whether anyones fiction, people are introduced to the gospel, have
life has meaning. Why live, only to die never having their new-won testimony challenged, and maintain
done anything of worth beyond ones own small their faith nevertheless. Perry doesnt take this route,

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which is admittedly an emotionally satisfying one likely to win many fans of fantasy.
but is also fairly simplistic. In Tathea, as in life, there Perry tells us too much, weighing down her nar-
are people who hear the teachings of the book and rative with unnecessary details of her world. Epic
are antagonistic to them, or indifferent, or who fantasy does contain a lot of detail, since it usually
believe but are unwilling to change their lives deals with made-up worlds that the writer must
accordingly. As a result, the ending might be seen flesh out. But Perrys world is essentially our own
either as a triumph or a failure for the longsuffering and familiar enough to require little description.
Tathea, depending on the readers attitude. On a Despite cosmetic changes, Shinabar is still basically
personal level, Tathea has lost a lot by the end of the a Babylonian/Egyptian culture, Camassia essentially
book, but from a broader perspective, she has suc- Roman. Perry spends too much time trying to con-
ceeded in her mission. vince us of the reality of her world and not enough
Anne Perrys stated intention in writing Tathea is establishing the elements that make it and her char-
to convey the ideas and teachings of the Church to acters unique. There are a few episodes that are
an audience which might not otherwise hear them, intriguing, particularly Tatheas vision-journey into
in a form that they might accept more easily than the North with a band of warriors, and the seem-
active proselytizing.1 She has accomplished the first ingly hopeless defense of a Camassian outpost by
goal; her representation of Mormon doctrine is clear the sea; the conversion and ministry of Tugomir is
and unambiguous, at least to this Mormon reader. also fascinating. But as a fantasy novel, Tathea is not
What non-Mormon readers will make of it, and very original.
whether they will accept it readily, I dont know. I felt cheated by Tathea, and it was very difficult
However, there is nothing contrary to established for me to finish reading it. Perrys prose is unmusi-
mainstream LDS doctrine in this novel and nothing cal, and the way she writes highly emotional scenes
terribly incomprehensible to the uninitiated. leaves me cold rather than engaging my sympathies.
But as fantasy, Tathea largely fails. Though Perry Her characterization lacks complexity. But most of
understands the trappings of fantasy, she fails to all, I dislike her handling of the fantasy elements of
grasp how it works on a deeper level. The novel the story. She is right to think that fantasy is the best
quickly bogs down as Tathea has a string of seem- genre for Tathea. Fantasy allows her the freedom to
ingly meaningful encounters that lead nowhere. discuss religion and miracles without having to
One universal theme in fantasy is that of appear- come up with rational explanations for them. But
ances being at odds with reality: the old beggar Perry writes as though all there is to the genre is
woman who is really a powerful witch, the prince magic and a pretechnological society. I found this
disguised as a pig-boy, the beautiful maiden dressed off-putting enough to affect my enjoyment of the
in the rough skin of a donkey. Readers of fantasy entire novel.
learn quickly to look for hints of the reality peeking However, when I described the plot of Tathea to
through the sham. And yet the woman who shelters a friend, he said, What youve just told me makes
Tathea from the pursuing assassins, who is unnatu- me want to read it. The idea is definitely interest-
rally wise and whose features are unusual for a ing, and I cant deny the experiences of those who
Shinabari, is . . . just a peasant woman, who plays have been deeply moved by it. It filled me with
no further role in the story after page 13. Right such awe, such love as I read it, and helped me bet-
from the beginning, the elements a reader expects in ter understand Gods plan, one reader posted to
a fantasy novel are missing, and the story starts to the website; another said, I think the
sound like a novel about our world with all the power of love will reach out to readers and make
names changed. It is as if Perrys main effort has many love this book as I did. Tathea reflects clear-
gone into the allegory, rather than into the fantasy. ly the authors devotion to, and love for, her chosen
While this may appeal to LDS readers in general, faith. Readers who care most of all that a novel be
and possibly to Perrys existing fan base, it is not uplifting and spiritually stimulating will find much

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to like about this book. But readers who are, like expects in a fantasy novel are missing is a legitimate
me, more interested in a well-wrought fantasy personal expression of a certain aesthetic, but miss-
would do better to look elsewhere. es the novels accomplishment outside the purview
of fantasy and does not explain why so many other
Melissa Proffitt is a reader, a mother, and a fledgling thoughtful people have responded so enthusiastical-
writer. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. ly to it, as Proffitt herself acknowledges.
Let me tell a few stories to demonstrate why
Note Tathea need not succeed as fantasy to fully engage
1. This is for those who will take spiritual doc- and move its intended audience. My LDS literature
trine only if it is dressed as a story. . . . If somebody class at BYU devotes a whole week to speculative
read this who had no knowledge of the church fiction. Along with other works, we read Orson
whatsoever and then a missionary taught them, they Scott Cards Seventh Son and his short story The
would not find much basic that was a surprise (in Fringe from his collection Folk of the Fringe. To any
Joan OBrien, For Perry, New Book Was 40 Years seasoned speculative fiction reader, it is obvious that
in the Making, Salt Lake Tribune, 27 Nov. 1999). Seventh Son is alternate history with American folk-
lore serving a role parallel to Nordic folklores in The
Lord of the Rings. The Fringe is clearly futuristic,
Another View of Tathea post-apocalyptic, but not quite dystopian fiction set
By Eric A. Eliason among Mormons trying to rebuild civilization after
a limited nuclear exchange that happened in a pro-
I imagine I was asked to respond to Melissa jected 1990s. The Fringe, written quite a few
Proffitts well-reasoned and well-written review of years ago, is also beginning to read more and more
Tathea in anticipation that my interpretation of the like alternative history, the main divergence being
novels merits would counter-balance Proffitts neg- that the Soviet Union no longer existed by the time
ative review of this years AML Best Novel award the real 1990s rolled around, as was required by
winner. True, Tatheas style can be, at times, a bit Cards background scenario. Such obsolescence is
frosty and distant; and Perrys fantasy setting may be the fate of all fiction written about the future
derivative of Egypt, Babylon, and Romebut not except, of course, for the hypothetically most per-
nearly so derivative as Tolkien was of the Norse fectly prophetic kind which has yet to appear.
Poetic Edda and no more so than lots of other Anyway, all of this is very easy to figure out for
authors have been of Tolkien. Despite these qualifi- fantasy/SF readers. But the nonfantasy/SF types in
cations, the books accomplishment in more impor- my class are usually briefly baffled, nonplussed, or
tant areas is a landmark achievement. just plain put off by the disequilibrium of such real-
The core of Proffitts argument seems to be that ity tweaking. One particularly bright nonfantasy/SF
Tathea fails as fantasy because it does not show the student this semester was so perplexed at his inabil-
proper knowledge of, and respect for, the conven- ity to fit either story into any real time or place that
tions of this genre. In fact, it is in this very respect he called my office to try to figure out what on earth
that the novel succeedsnot because there is any- was going on. (Of course, that none of the action
thing inherently deficient with the conventions of was going on on earth was exactly what he was
fantasy, but because Tathea is not best understood as missing.) Despite the fact that Card is well known
a fantasy novel at all. It is, rather, a haunting genre to AML types as one of the most conservative and
bender unfit for any conventional category into faithful of LDS writers, this student suspected that
which it might be crammed. Tathea works so well Card had some warped anti-Mormon agenda and
because it is so poised with potential for charting said that both stories did nothing for me. For
new genre territory. To judge the book as unsatisfy- many BYU students, my class is their first and last
ing because, as Proffitt says, the elements a reader brush with fantasy/SF. This is not because Scott

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Cards work poorly represents the genre but because much better in the philosophical/moral-treatise-in-
they realize that the whole enterprise is not for story-form genre of books which occasionally have
them. Most readers of Tathea will not be primarily fantasy elements but are not fantasy per se. Such
fantasy fans. They probably would find slavish books include Richard Bachs Jonathan Livingston
adherence to fantasys conventions an obstacle to Seagull, Og Mandinos The Richest Man in Babylon,
appreciating the novel rather than a catalyst to make James Redfields The Celestine Prophecy, Ayn Rands
it more fulfilling. For most readers, then, Anne The Fountainhead, Fritjof Capras The Turning Point
Perrys evasion of fantasys genre conventions stands (made into the movie Mindwalk), or Charles M.
to broaden her audience rather than constrict it. Sheltons In His Steps, from which American popu-
One more story: After the AML conference this lar Evangelical Protestant culture gets the ubiqui-
month, I had a telling conversation with one of our tous motto WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?).
up-and-coming LDS SF writers. We were dis- Such books do not strive for the fully multivocalic
cussing the concerns some fantasy/SF readers have nature that Russian critic M. M. Bakhtin claims is
expressed about Tathea not following the rules. I the hallmark of a true novel.
asked him what fantasy readers thought of Mary Rather, such works are treatises in story form pre-
Shelleys Frankenstein, Orwells 1984, Huxleys senting one point of view with consistent clarity.
Brave New World, or Thomas Moores Utopia. He They are defined by an ideological unity and confi-
replied with a wry smile that the fantasy literature dence so strong that characters who differ with
community can be every bit as condescending and these works prevailing worldview only serve to bol-
elitist as the academic literary community. While I ster that view by breaking themselves against it or
appreciated the gesture, I think academic literary otherwise coming up short and miserable when
types still have a corner on the condescension mar- measured by it.
ket in the world of reading and still jealously tend Within the conventions of this genre, Tathea not
the reigns harnessing the admittedly very small only succeeds but also excels. It pushes genre
horse of literary interpretive authority in contempo- boundaries by giving equal weight to the story of
rary American culture. the journey as it does to the seriousness of the prin-
Now, about Tathea: Despite some flaws, I think ciples being taught. Perrys epic is as sweeping, as
the novel works very well and deserves the thought- engaging, and as creative in realizing its purpose as
ful fans it has already earned as well as the many this genre has ever seen. Some of Perrys success aris-
more sure to find it. As alluded to above, the digni- es from the ideas she espouses. With revealed truth
fied and ethereal prose in the book has understand- that will resonate with the light of Christ in every
ably struck some readers as boring and detached in reader, she has chosen good material to work with.
places. I noticed this too but imagined that Perry The oblique stabs at truth found in Bachs allegory
felt that this stylistic choice was necessary to show of self-improvement through yogic self-discipline,
the right sort of reverence in exploring the near-vir- Rands radical rationalistic individualism, Capras
gin territory of fictive gospel philosophizing that quantum mysticism as social theory, Sheltons theo-
Tathea enters. Perhaps Perry erred on the side of logically milky experimentation, and Mandinos
caution, or perhaps caution is nine-tenths of wis- pseudo-ancient step-by-step gospel of personal
dom. wealth attainment pale in comparison to Perrys
The sense that Perry has taken a light touch at profound exploration of the fundamental meta-
best, or committed a stupendous bungle at worst, physical conditions of human existence and agency.
with respect to the fantasy-like elements of her Tathea is more than fantasy and more than fictive
novel has more to do with the fact that she is more polemic. It is Mormon metaphysics unraveling in
interested in fashioning an allegory and revealing grandiose story form. It is Mormon literature in the
principles than she is in creating a fully-realized fan- fullest and richest sense of all that the term poten-
tasy world. If Tathea must be pigeonholed, it fits tially implies. Tathea really has only two peers in its

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sweeping panoramic look at LDS ideas and con- new tenderness, one that was not paid for
cepts: Nephi Andersons Added Upon and Levi in jewels, but loneliness. And in that
Petersons The Backslidertwo very different books moment, without her finding words to
that are similar only in that they take LDS ideas seri- frame it, he knew that their parting had
ously as primary fictive fodder. However, while also cost her, not in cheap physical loss of
Added Upon has some touches of science fiction money or pleasure, but in the tearing of
toward the end and The Backslider almost has to be love. All the years he had known her he
read as alternate history occurring in a skewed paral- had taken her for granted. She was some-
lel universe ruled by an almost Calvinistic predesti- one he had bought, a woman trading in
narian grace (where no effort to repent ever suc- her beauty. Now when it was in so many
ceeds) to have any resonance with the lived theology ways too late, he realized he had purchased
of most Mormons, both novels present themselves as nothing. Everything of worth that he had
taking place among regular folks on this planet. had from her had been a gift. He was
No novel that I know of besides Tathea has ever ashamed of himself for the meanness of
explored the possibility, lying virtually unused at his judgment, and humbled by the grace
our feet for over 150 years, of setting Mormon fic- that extended to him something he had so
tion on one of Elohim and Jehovahs other peopled little treasured or deserved.
worlds. Who else has even dared to imagine, let How could he let her know without
alone fully flesh out, as Perry does in Tatheas appen- misleading her? And he must not do that.
dix The Book, what a book of scripture from such He must betray neither of them.
a world might look like? Tathea has burst genre bar- I wish I had known I loved you when
riers and raises new questions about what genre I still could have told you so, he said qui-
standards apply to such new and uniquely propri- etly. Now I cannot.
etary developments in Mormon literature. We will She smiled tears bright in her eyes. I
only know when a new genre emerges as others fol- know that, she said softly. You dont
low in Perrys footsteps. need to explain. (254, 256, 257)
Perry herself explores some aesthetic principles In Tatheas forthcoming sequel we can hope Perry
worth considering as a foundation. After watching a will reach new heights in achieving the aesthetic
melodrama uncomfortably reminiscent of too goals she has Isadorus voice and act out so subtly
much contemporary Mormon popular culture, with Tissarel. Tathea is the most ambitious book of
Tatheas friend Isadorus runs into his former mis- Mormon theology-as-story since Added Upon and
tress, Tissarel, whom he has abandoned for the sake seems poised to match Added Upons success among
of truth. Isadorus ponders the play and says to her: Mormons and reach a popular Gentile audience
Every virtue had been hammered home that Nephi Anderson only dreamed of. Perry
like a nail. The wicked were irredeemable attempts to take a big bite. The marvelous thing is
and unexplained. The good were flawless not that she triedanyone can do thatbut that
and without humor or humanity. He ached she pulled it off. If Perrys attempt at times seems a
for a little laughter amid the well-meaning little strained in its stylistic earnestness and expan-
gravity, a little scarlet or even gray to soften sive scope, this is understandable considering the
the blacks and whites. circumstances and should not detract from the
Real virtue springs from conflict and overall success of the effort. Tathea is about big,
from choices that are so terrible they cost transcendent ideas. Since its ambition is so large and
more than you believe you have. Goodness important, it is crucial to realize that a fully compe-
without the temptation of evil is an illusion, tent fictive rendering of big issues is more signifi-
as is evil without a knowledge of good. cant than a stylistically superb rendering of little
I know. Her voice was gentle with issues. Tathea is a big book in more ways than one.

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Eric A. Eliason is an assistant professor of English at They share an apartment with four other mis-
Brigham Young University, where he teaches folklore sionaries. The practical jokes and general levity
and Mormon literature. He has published on pioneers among the six rings just as true as the Okay-lets-
in Mormon popular historical expression, Western get-down-to-business attitude that eventually pre-
American folk heroes, conversion narratives, the civil vails. Furthermore, the investigators concerns, the
rights of Mormons, and the economics of womens reactions of people on the street, Daltons never-say-
handicrafts on the Dutch Caribbean island of Saba. die spirit, and Allens sweet-faced innocence all
He holds a B.A. in linguistics from BYU and an M.A. remind a returned missionary of specific people and
in anthropology and a Ph.D. in American studies from circumstances he or she knew while out in the field.
the University of Texas at Austin. It shouldnt surprise me that mission life is por-
trayed so realisticallyafter all, Dutcher did serve a
mission himselfbut it does. Maybe thats because
The Real Deal few other films, including (especially) ones made by
A review of Gods Army, a film written and direct- the LDS Church, have ever done a good job at show-
ed by Richard Dutcher ing what life as an elder is really like. They tend to
By Eric D. Snider focus on the positive aspects, leaving aside the fact
that the job is often more painful than pleasant. For
In speaking of Elder Dalton, the hard-working the most part, Gods Army portrays missionary life the
missionary played by Richard Dutcher (left, below) way it is: You get out of it what you put into it (that
in Gods Army, someone says, He means well; I is, the happy missionaries are the ones who are work-
think he tries a little too hard. ing hard, and with the Spirit), but even when youre
I jotted that line down because I knew there was a doing whats right, youre still in for some heartache.
chance the sentiment could wind up applying to
Dutcher himselfstar, writer, and director of the first
major motion picture about Mormon missionaries.
Could it be that Gods Army, while full of good
intentions, would come off as just another preachy,
overblown seminary film that Mormons would
watch because its about them, without regard to
whether its any good or not?
It could have been that way. But its not. Gods
Army is the real deal, a funny and touching fiction-
al story about several Los Angeles missionaries, and
it manages to be realistic as well as entertaining, and
uplifting without (for the most part) becoming
emotionally manipulative.
In other words, this movie is actually good.
At the center of the film is Elder Allen (Matthew
Brown), a brand-new missionary who, while a life-
long member, is unsure of his testimony and
whether he wants to be on a mission. (He tries to go
home the first night.) His trainer is Elder Dalton, a
29-year-old former medical student, and a convert
who is, as they say, on fire for missionary work.
He has Allen tracting even before dropping his lug-
gage off at the apartment.

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Missionaries arent perfect, either. Elder Kinegar natural causes while in the field).
(Michael Buster) reads too much anti-Mormon lit- More than that, though, Daltons death is also
erature, eventually ruining his fragile testimony. unnecessary. The film has its emotional climaxes
Elder Sandoval (Luis Robledo) flirts with a cafe already (Allens conversion, Bennys healing), and
waitress. Sister Fronk (Jacque Gray) is haughty. those seem at least plausible. Daltons death manip-
Dalton loses his temper. Allen doodles in his note- ulates the audience. The tears come because movies
book instead of writing in his journal. This aint have taught us to cry when someone dies (its even
exactly the Called to Serve video. cancer, which I believe is taught on the first day of
While Gods Army is realistic, it is by no means a Screenwriting 101: Cancer = Sad), and not
documentary. A few bits of dialogue really are because of successful filmmaking. Its a shame a film
cheesy, Daltons initial use of his Lets do some this good would resort to something so amateurish
good slogan being the most flagrant example. And in an attempt to jerk tears out of people.
most of the stories wrap up neatlya little too neat- Elder Allens trial of faithseeing Kinegar lose
ly, in fact, with almost no investigators left unbap- his testimony while already unsure of his ownis
tized. (The film focuses more on the missionaries what gives the film its real emotional climax.
than on their convertswise, since thats where the Though for a while Allen seems to exist merely so
really interesting and true-to-life stories are.) The the other characters have someone to tell their back-
few threads that are left tangled seem to be left that stories to, here he finally takes center stage, seeking
way mainly so no one can accuse the movie of answers for himself in a scene with details that
wrapping everything up nicely. should subtly remind LDS viewers of Joseph Smiths
One event late in the film involving the healing First Vision.
of a young man could have come off as unbeliev- The acting is solid all the way around, with
able; in context, though, and as crafted with finesse Matthew Browns sweet, understated performance
by Dutcher, it works perfectly. The Mormon side of as Elder Allen pulling more weight than you might
me cried because it felt the Spirit; the film critic side give him credit for, since he spends a lot of time just
of me cried because of the beautiful way in which standing around watching. Look at him, though:
the film had set up the characters and led up to the Theres more going on than you think. And
moment. Dutcher plays Dalton with amazing sincerity. By
Another major event, howeverthe one that is the end, his Lets do some good line no longer
allegedly the emotional climax of the movieis seems trite, because you can tell Dalton really means
both unrealistic and unnecessary. (Spoiler alert: If it.
you havent seen the movie you may want to skip Will non-Mormons like this movie? I think they
the next two paragraphs.) This is the death of Elder might. It is genuinely interesting, and while a few
Dalton, as he finally succumbs to brain cancer. For bits of terminology might fly past them, the stories
a movie that has up to this point been so careful to are compelling and the characters generally well
be a realistic rendering of missionary life, this devel- drawn. When the film does bring up LDS doctrine,
opment is astoundingly maudlin and its done without a soapbox, so no one will feel like
Hollywoodized. In real life, the number of mission- theyre being force-fed the discussions.
aries who die while serving is very small, and those Will Mormons like this movie? Oh, yeah. Many
are almost always due to accidents or foul play. The of them would like it anyway, just because it shows
number who die of natural causes is downright Mormons in a positive light and doesnt have any
miniscule, if there are any at all. And the idea that swearing. But for those who actually want to discern
Daltons brain cancer was already known and he just good movies from poor movies, this one is good. Its
refused to stop working is ludicrous: There comes a a triumph in the category of films about
point when a missionary can be sent home for med- Mormons. As a regular old movie, judged like any
ical reasons (which is probably why so few die of other, it gets a little awkward, fumbles here and

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there with its stories, but ultimately does extremely tions are excerpts of modern-day atrocities such as
well for itself. genetically altered animals with glowing ears, the
power of multinational corporations, and rampant
Eric D. Snider is features editor for the Provo Daily ecological destruction. She interweaves a personal
Herald, for which he writes theater and film reviews. narrative that describes the moment she and her
He is also author of the Snide Remarks column that husband, disenchanted with institutions that no
appeared in BYUs Daily Universe and now in the longer serve the truth of our own experience (117),
Provo Daily Herald, and has published two compila- burn their temple wedding certificate and throw
tions of those columns. He is originally from Lake their wedding bands into the waters of the Great
Elsinore, California, and now lives in Provo. A version Salt Lake.
of this review appeared in the Provo Daily Herald on Yet between the polarities of Paradise and
10 March 2000. Hell, Williams finds Earthly Delights, the cen-
ter panel of Boschs triptych and the middle road
that she discovers in her middle age. Though she
A Leap of Faith admits that she is not attracted to moderation, she
A review of Terry Tempest Williamss Leap realizes that in the right and left worlds ideas are
(Pantheon Books, 2000) formulaic and rigid, and the middle path is a walk
By Jana Bouck Remy with wisdom where conversations of complexity can
be found. . . . It is the path of movement (188).
In Leap, Terry Tempest Williams travels from her Traveling this middle road, she describes various
familiar Utah landscape to Spain, where she finds meaningful religious experiences: studying the writ-
Hieronymous Boschs El Jardin de Delicias (The ings of St. Teresa, healing from a bicycle accident,
Garden of Delights). Her encounter with the paint- and attending the sesquicentennial celebration of
ing in the Prado museum leaves her stunned and the pioneers exodus. She reveals her interest in spir-
light-headed. She remembers that as a child her ituality, her grounding in Mormonism, but her dif-
grandmother had thumb-tacked Paradise and Hell, ficulty with organized religion, which she
two sections of the triptych (three-part painting), describes as the difference between the mysticism of
over her bed. But Williams had never seen the third Joseph Smith and the pragmatism of Brigham
section, Earthly Delights. Thus begins her obsession Young.
with the artwork that frames the reality of her life As with most of Williamss writings, Leap is writ-
for seven years. ten with a medley of creative narrative techniques.
In Paradise, the first chapter of Leap, Williams Her words arc down the page as she describes her
recalls her childhood and the foundation of her descent from a cathedral bell tower. At moments of
upbringing as a Mormon. She describes her bap- intense emotion she abandons punctuation, even
tism, confirmation, and other religious experiences eliminating the spaces between words. She inte-
that bring her to the temple at age 18 to marry grates news articles, poetry excerpts, and lines from
Brooke Williams. Paralleling her reminiscences are hymns and scriptures seamlessly into her text.
the images from the first panel which depict the Indeed, a lengthy Notes section is included to
innocence of Adam and Eve in Eden. Williams inform the reader of the sources of her allusions.
imagines herself as Eve and eats the forbidden fruit. This style of writing, better developed in Leap than
She writes, I grow taller, my feet feel the ground in her earlier work, mirrors what she describes as the
and my forehead touches stars. I turn toward Adam language of women, which is about meanderings,
and share the fruit (41). like a river: You may go through eddies and spiral in
Williams then jumps to Hell. She discusses the one place again and again. You may enter white
grotesque and torturous imagery of Boschs panel of water, full of risk and danger. . . . You may just
the same name. Juxtaposed with her artistic descrip- decide to take the flat water very slowly. It is lan-

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guage without self-consciousness.1 Williams has Jana Bouck Remy has a B.S. from the University of
taken criticism for the slow pace of her writing California, Irvine. She lives in Southern California
style.2 Yet she seems to glory in the languorous pace with her husband, John, and their two children.
of her words. She writes of Earthly Delights: The
most luxurious gift in this garden is time. Time to Notes
talk, time to eat, time to love, time to drink, dis- 1. Pearlman, Mickey. Listen to Their Voices: 20
cover, uncover, expose, explore, ponder, dream, cre- Interviews with Women Who Write. (Houghton
ate, time to do nothing but sit and stare, look and Mifflin, 1993) p. 129.
listen and wonder how it is, why it is, that we have 2. For more on this subject, see The Works of Terry
strayed so far from this world of Naked Truth Tempest Williams, a panel discussion recorded in the
(132). 1999 AML Annual, pp. 2838.
The final chapter of Williamss narrative describes
the restoration of her now-beloved painting. Along
with the renewal of El Jardin de Delicias, she For Without Me Ye Can Do Nothing
describes her new marriage to Brooke, before the A review of Benson Parkinsons Into the Field
Elders of Time and the painted panel of the (Aspen Books, 2000)
desert (261). She also affirms her faith, as learned By Neal W. Kramer
from her seven years with Bosch:
This is my living faith, and active faith, Since I thoroughly enjoyed Benson Parkinsons
a faith of verbs: to question, explore, first novel, The MTC: Set Apart, I have really looked
experiment, . . . kneel, pray, bow, rise, forward to the follow-up, the second in what should
stand, look, laugh, cajole, create, confront, be at least a three-novel series. Into the Field did not
confound, walk back, walk forward, circle, disappoint, though it did surprise. The adventures
hide and seek. of Elders Wilberg, Rignell, Jeppsen, Anthon, and
To seek: to embrace the questions, be Fergason are even more intense and challenging
wary of answers. than their preparation for missions and the two
Hieronymous Bosch invited me to seek. months they spent together in the MTC, which
Joseph Smith taught me to seek truth in a were the focus of the first novel. The language, cul-
grove of trees. We can have visions. We ture, and weather of France all require significant
can have our own personal relationship adjustment. The details of daily missionary life are
with God. We can participate in our own hard to master, from riding bicycles in the rain to
healing. . . . I choose to believe in the learning to limit pastry intake. Their new compan-
power of restoration, the restoration of ions are less-than-perfect missionaries. The few
our faith, even within my own Church of investigators they do teach break their hearts. The
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Faith is local members arent always helpful or friendly. At
not about finding meaning in the world, first, it seems like these young men will not be
there may be no such thingFaith is the describing their 22 months in France as the best
belief in our capacity to create meaningful two years of their lives.
lives. (264) Parkinson is not one to sugarcoat the missionary
To close this book, Williams describes the envi- experience. His fictional MTC was very like the real
rons of her new home in southern Utah. She prais- place. Elders and sisters struggled with homesick-
es its wide-open spaces and compares it to her sub- ness, companions did not like each other, some eld-
mersion in El Jardin. She explains that she is finally ers were aloof, others light-minded, thinking more
home after having wandered through a painting of girlfriends than the gospel. Parkinsons elders
(266). even broke the rules, though they were always anx-
ious to be good. Some couldnt learn the language,

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some struggled with memorizing the discussions, chastised. Through this missionary underground we
but all were blessed enough to survive the Provo even hear of mission presidents suddenly released or
compound and enter the field. His fictional France church troubleshooters coming to clean up the
Toulouse Mission provides more of the same. From mess. So I was beginning to wonder whether I was
perpetual rain to blighted government housing, we feeling honest suspense (how and when will this
are shown a gray world in which discouragement is change?) or reading the overwhelmingly bitter expe-
never more than an angry womans curse away. rience of an elder beaten down by his mission (not
Even with all these challenges, though, Elders unusual for European missionaries at all).
Wilberg and Jeppsen sadly have their missionary Thank goodness for the Burns conference! Hope
experience first corrupted by their fellow elders. arrives just in time in the form of an inspired church
Lazy, discouraged missionaries populate their dis- leader who confronts the missionaries with their
tricts and zone. They waste time everywhere, anx- failings and inspires them to repentor be sent
iously avoiding contact with anybody except other home. We are not surprised that our MTC elders
missionaries. When they do visit a nonmember, work hard to pull it togethereach in his own way,
they have lost the courage to teach discussions. building on strengths we saw or suspected while
They look more like Americans in a study abroad they were in the MTC. I must admit that Parkinson
program than servants of the Lord. Anthon and had me practically on my knees, praying that each
Rignell have a little better luck. Rignells companion of these missionaries would have good missions,
is a devoted, hard worker. But he has no creativity, filled with spiritual vitality and just enough success
and his perspiration outweighs his inspiration. He is to keep them humble instead of discouraged. The
not happy to tract the days and weeks away, but he second half of the novel begins their salvation and
is certainly willing. Rignell obediently follows. But my relief. I think many readers will need to be fore-
despair will be their ultimate destination, if some- warned that the first few chapters are disheartening.
thing does not change. Anthon is sent to an I also think that is a fairly accurate view of the feel-
unorthodox, somewhat rebellious, successful mis- ings of many young missionaries, though the lazi-
sionary. Beach, as he is infamously known ness of some elders seems slightly exaggerated to
throughout the mission, is a native elder who bap- me.
tizes wherever he goes. He also shows little respect Ultimately, however, this is a book about surviv-
for traditional missionary methods or the mission ing adversity by receiving small gifts of grace. Each
rules. His success is still transitory though, as his missionary who honestly seeks to serve finally finds
converts remain active only as long as he stays in the a blessing. The challenge for readers and characters
area. I was surprised at the physically and spiritual- alike, though, is learning to recognize the blessings
ly dreary world these elders entered. I was also angry in the midst of the harsh reality of missionary life in
for them. They deserved better from their compan- France. The blessings appear in the daily effort to
ions. work harder, to leave the apartment on time, to
At this point in the storyabout 100 pages in keep studying the discussions, to listen to the Spirit,
I wondered whether I was reading a novel or a to be more friendly with investigators and mem-
memoir. I had to shake myself a little to remember bers, to suddenly discover that you really do love
I was reading LDS fiction. Mormon fiction has not these wonderful people. I especially enjoyed how
shown us many missions in this much turmoil. Parkinson allowed these little revelations to sneak
Missionary stories have tended to focus on the up on you. One moment, the work is distressingly
teaching and the baptizingor the sexual misad- difficult; the next moment, you can know the mis-
ventures of individual elders and sisters. Mormon sionaries are on the Lords errand and that He is
folklore, on the other hand, is replete with whis- walking beside them. Exactly like a real mission.
pered rumors of missions or zones gone bad, with Therein lay my relief following the revelations of a
elders being rebuked, sent home, and generally mission gone "pagan" in the earlier chapters.

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Another strength of the novel is Parkinsons tempered by Ill go where you want me to go dear
understanding that missionary work can become a Lord . . . Ill do what you want me to do, letting
tedious grind for even the best elders or sisters. He God give the increase (Neal A. Maxwell, Men and
also understands that the most effective way to do Women of Christ [Salt Lake: Bookcraft, 1991], 25).
the work has yet to be discovered. Therefore, We can only hope that LDS publishers will take
through a variety of crises, he invites us to think more risks in the future on books like this one and
carefully about how we honestly want to do this that the growing LDS audience for spiritually com-
work. The crises are common to missionaries every- pelling, serious fiction will buy books like Into the
where. Tracting is endlessly dull, yet it is the most Fieldand even give copies to their friends.
obvious way to try to contact people. But it is often
a monumental waste of time because it returns so Neal W. Kramer, a past president of the AML, is an
few investigators for the amount of time invested. instructor in the English department at BYU. He has
Friendshipping and fellowshipping are more suc- previously taught at Ricks College and the Illinois
cessful, but they require the members to know and Institute of Technology. He earned his B.A. in English
trust you. Teaching by the Spirit is very difficult. with university honors from BYU and his M.A. from
And even when investigators decide to be baptized, the University of Chicago, where he is completing a
it is tricky business to know whether they have truly Ph.D. He has also served as assistant dean of students
been converted. Within months, even days, of their at the University of Chicago and assistant dean of
baptism, many new members simply disappear. General Education and Honors at BYU. He has pub-
Retention rates are low. This all raises questions lished critical essays and reviews on literature and cul-
whose answers are crucial to the success of mission- ture in BYU Studies, New Perspectives, F.A.R.M.S.
ary work throughout the church. Should missionar- Review of Books, and the AML Annual.
ies focus only on baptizing? How should members
be included in the work? Why does the Lord send
so much inspiration so freely and then allow the Brief Notices
would-be convert to back out at the last minute? Allen, Nancy Campbell. No Time for Love,
Why do the lukewarm get baptized, while those Covenant, $13.95. Connor OBrian knows his
who would be strong, committed members often engagement is a mistake, but before he can take
decide against joining? Parkinson offers no simplis- steps to end it, his fiance is dead and FBI agents are
tic answers, but he helps us see how central they are on his doorstep. Then Liz Saxton, a resourceful and
to the work. That, in turn, invites each of us some- self-assured private investigator, shows up looking
times too tepid members to reconsider our commit- dangerously like the woman that he thought he
ment to the work and support for missionaries loved. Before they know it, Liz and Connor find
around the world. themselves on a chase across continents and oceans
Should you buy this book? Absolutely. Should in a race to find the evidence they need before a bul-
you read it? Absolutely. Should you be more anx- let finds them.
iously engaged in this work? Yes, indeed. We can Arnold, Marilyn. Sky Full of Ribbons,
only hope that more writers will work this hard to Covenant, $13.95. Polly McGrath is a widow who
engage us spiritually and intellectually about issues is busily fighting off the advances of Anthon
fundamental to our church membership. Benson Clemmer, a poet, philosopher, and carjacker who
Parkinson encourages us through his fiction to has suddenly decided to purchase the neighbors
move beyond our flighty enthusiasm for missionary place. Pollys disgust with him is equaled only by his
work to the bedrock principles of hard work, deep mischievous desire to woo her. Pollys daughter
commitment, and simple faith. Indeed, he follows Delia has worries of her ownshe thinks she may
the admonition of Elder Maxwell: The enthusiasm be the only witness to an apparent homicide. And
of Ill baptize a thousand on my mission! is best with the cast on her leg, the only car shell fit in is

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her neighbors lurching Pontiac convertible. upside down. A middle-age veterinarian who is
Dewey, Richard Lloyd. The Porter Rockwell seeking a wife must learn what love is all about. A
Chronicles, Vol. 1, Paramount Books, $21.94. This single mom with a checkered past is making a
biographical novel shows Porter Rockwells close comeback to Church life. A fragile and terminally
friendship as a youngster with Joseph Smith, and shy woman puzzles the group at first, until they pull
follows his teenage years through an engaging yet together to protect her from an abusive ex-spouse.
humorous courtship with a young woman he meets Singled Out is based on the authors play The Way
and is determined to marry. Along the way, he faces Were Wired, which had a successful run at BYU in
foes from New York to Missouri that outnumber his May 1999.
band of friends, yet often he prevails. Stansfield, Anita. Gables against the Sky,
Gardner, Lynn. Amethysts and Arson, Covenant, $14.95. It has been nearly two decades
Covenant, $13.95. Barts uncle, an arson investiga- since Alexa Byrnehouse and Jess Davies married and
tor, has been receiving anonymous clues to crimes started a family, and their twins, Emma and Tyson,
planned but not yet committed. Allison and Bart have now grown to young adulthood. The
must call on an antiterrorist agencys resources to Byrnehouse-Davies family is one of the richest in
stop a madman from killing hundreds of people and Australia, known for its exceptional handling of
destroying significant historical sites out of an unex- horses and abandoned boys. Michael Hamilton,
plainable drive for revenge. one such troubled youth, holds a special place in
McCloud, Susan Evans. The Last Suspect, Alexas heart. He loves Emma helplessly, hopelessly
Deseret Book, $5.99. A London executive has been from a distance as he works in the stables.
murdered, and Inspector Callan MacGregor must Williams, Brooke. Halflives: Reconciling Work
act quickly to save the mans nine-year-old daughter. and Wildness, Island Press, $22.95. Speaking as a
Nunes, Rachel. Love on the Run, Covenant, family man, plumber, and direct descendent of
$13.95. Jared and Cassi Landine are celebrating Brigham Young, author Brooke Williams offers this
their recent marriage together in a quaint mountain memoir about finding a balance between the call to
cabin when a strange thump at their door in the duty and the call of the wild. Like his wife, Terry
middle of the night changes everything. A beautiful Tempest Williams, Brooke uses a journal-like narra-
blonde woman wants to see Jared and Cassi both tive to combine stories from the natural world,
deadalong with an entire congregation of unsus- scenes from his marriage, memories of a mothers
pecting Latter-day Saints. death, and reflections on human nature.
Pratt, James Michael. The Lighthouse Keeper,
St. Martins Press, $23.95. Kathleen OBanyon
returns to be with her aging father, Peter, in the
now-retired lighthouse. As Peter reminisces about M O R M O N
the past and his childhood with Uncle Billie, he tells L I T E R A R Y
of his familys fortunes through illness, death, and
two world wars. S C E N E
Ritchey, Michael. Disoriented, Cornerstone,
$14.95. A story about an attack on earths resources Compiled by Kent Larsen and Christopher K. Bigelow
inspired by forces from the unseen world. When an
uncertain prayer for help is offered by a young biol- Gods Army Reveals
ogist, the answer is a witness to the power of God Untapped LDS Market
and His love for those who seek Him.
Samuelsen, Eric. Singled Out, Cornerstone, After premiering in Utah on March 9, Richard
$8.95. New faces at an adult singles activity in Dutchers LDS-oriented film Gods Army rapidly
Indiana turn the lives of the established group spread to screens via a platform release throughout

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the western United States and Alaska. Made for become this huge crossover hit.
$300,000 and with grosses as of May 29 exceeding The film gives a realistic view of LDS missionary
$1.85 million, the profitable film is considered rev- life, portraying the struggles missionaries face and
olutionary by many because its the first film aimed their daily failures and successes, from apartment
at Latter-day Saints to successfully reach its audi- pranks to miraculous healings. This honesty has
ence through commercial theaters. In Utah the film won the film critical praise. For instance, a Los
was this years top grosser as of May 25 with Angeles Times reviewer wrote that the film is not a
$867,588, beating competition such as Gladiator, movie heavy on proselytizing and is a mostly non-
Erin Brockovich, U-571, and Galaxy Quest. sentimental look at a world of believers and issues of
Entertainment Weekly made Gods Army exhibit A faith, both of which we rarely see in movies. The
in a recent article about the indies of the indies, review continued, The movie is actually a sensitive
calling it one of a new breed of stealth features and thoughtful probe into questions of faith and the
independently financed and distributed, and seen difficulties faced by those who are called to teach
by audiences largely ignored by Hollywoodthat others. L.A. Weekly favorably compared Gods Army
have been climbing the box office charts without with Glengarry Glenn Ross and The Apostle and
any national awareness. The magazine reported encouraged its mainstream distribution.
that Gods Army made it as high as number 37 in Of particular note are the comments of national-
Varietys ranking of the top 60 films and noted that ly known film reviewer Michael Medved, who gave
Dutcher personally convinced theater owners in Gods Army three and a half stars out of four. He said
Salt Lake City to show his film, going door-to-door the film is an amazingly accomplished effort and
with publicity materials and prints, not unlike the is fascinating, riveting, and emotionally satisfying,
missionaries the film portrays. and he praised its realistic appraisal of the struggles
Dutcher, who wrote, produced, directed, and that everyone, including missionaries, has with
starred in Gods Army, began to think about the con- faith. Medved said the performances are superi-
cept of a Mormon cinema after he noticed that spe- orsome of them superbwith a level of acting
cialized films are regularly successful in other limit- that most mainstream releases could rightly envy,
ed marketing niches, such as black, gay and lesbian, and he praised the treatment of spiritual matters as
and Asian. Theres enough interest and theres never seeming cheap or manipulative. While the
enough of an LDS market to sustain our own little film makes a case for the LDS faith, it does so in a
film community, Dutcher told Meridian magazine. surprisingly subtle, balanced, sophisticated way.
For me its not just Gods Army. Its Gods Army as a Dutcher leaves unresolved questions, refusing to
beginning of an LDS movement. wrap up his gripping story in a neatly tied, berib-
Elaborating on these points to the Salt Lake boned package. Medved continues, You leave the
Tribune, Dutcher said: Even if it only reaches an film feeling the same way Ive always felt about the
LDS audience, it has enough of an audience to sus- LDS members I know well in real life: whatever my
tain itself in just about every major city in the doubts (and they are big ones) about their theology,
United States and even most of the minor ones. you cant help liking these people.
Whether we go to Indianapolis or Pittsburgh or On the critical downside, the Los Angeles Times
Fort Lauderdale, anywhere where theres four or five reviewer didnt like the movies title, saying that it
wards in a town, thats enough people to open it for communicates zealotry of the most off-putting
a week. Most of the art houses out there that show kind. A Phoenix New Times reviewer wrote, Gods
foreign films or independent stuff, if they have 50 Army doesnt really seem to be aimed at non-
people on a Friday night, they think thats a pretty Mormonsit has more the feel of a sort of train-
good house, and theyre able to stay afloat like that. ing/morale propaganda film for missionary kids
He continued, I made the film for the LDS audi- who may be struggling with the urge to ditch. A
ence, so Im not all that concerned when it doesnt reviewer for the Las Vegas weekly City Life said the

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movie sets up compelling dramatic situations but which tells the story of how a family stayed close
resolves them all undramatically. together when one member was dying from cancer,
Describing ticket sales for Gods Army, Dutcher also received the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle
told the Salt Lake Tribune that in most cities audi- and the National Educational Media Networks
ences have been 80 to 85 percent LDS and the Silver Apple and will represent the United States in
people they bring. He continued, Our Sundays, international film festivals. Encore Cable has chosen
of course, are almost nonexistent and our Mondays the film for broadcast on their True Stories and
are so huge. Because theaters expect small audi- Drama cable channel.
ences on Mondays, they often have too few people Kemps idea for Fedora came when he spotted a
working at the theater and not enough people picture in People magazine. It was a photo of this
behind the candy counter. guy sitting in a wheelchair, surrounded by family
Speaking of his hopes for more movies in a mode and friendsand they all had their heads shaved. I
similar to Gods Army, Dutcher told Meridian: I just knew there was a story there, even before I read
think one of the reasons we havent [started a the article. The article was about Manuel Garcia, a
Mormon cinema] yet is because Mormon filmmak- Minneapolis sanitation worker whose cancer threat-
ers have been worldly cowards. To be really honest, ened to separate him from his family and friends
I think weve been really focused on worldly success even before it took his life. I went through this
and weve been really ashamed of Mormonism, of when my father was dying of Lou Gehrigs disease.
our faith. I think its really criminal, and I think we I discovered that sometimes the leastand the
need to repent. Referring to President Spencer W. mostwe can do is to be there, to share their
Kimballs well-known July 1977 First Presidency ordeal. And that is what Manuel Garcias family and
message about LDS arts, Dutcher noted that friends did. That simple but powerful truth is the
President Kimball singled out filmmakers and said core of a wonderful story.
that tomorrow we should be able to make these Kemp said he made the film on a shoestring
films that will fill the world with our faith and our budget in Salt Lake City. And I mean a threadbare
culture, and theyll play in every movie center in shoestring! But that didnt hurt us, because like all
every part of the world. good stories, you just need to get out of the way and
The film, together with the success of LDS tell it as simply as possible. And it resonates.
Church President Gordon B. Hinckleys book Known among LDS audiences for his books I
Standing for Something, demonstrates the existence Hated Heaven and Dad Was a Carpenter, Kemp made
of a national LDS market that can support major an earlier film titled Wildest Dream, the story of a
films and books if quality and marketing are suffi- young rock composer who is creatively blocked. A
cient. The films distributor, Excel Entertainment, School Library Journal reviewer wrote, This video
which is best known for producing LDS-oriented will be enjoyed for its music and the force of its mes-
music, plans to continue the films release to major sage. Young adults are sure to identify with [the
cities such as Portland, Seattle, Houston, Denver, heros] frustrations as he makes excuses for himself
Dallas, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and New York and finally awakens to where his real problems are.
City. For more information, visit Kemps next film is called What the Bear Said, an update of the classic Aesop fable The Bear and the
Travelers. With plans to shoot the film in the Utah
mountains, Kemp has cast the eight-foot-tall grizzly
Fedora Wins Accolades bear who appeared in the recent thriller The Edge,
starring Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins. Bart
LDS author and filmmaker Kenny Kemps film lives with his trainer Doug Seus in Heber City,
Fedora was recently chosen by the American Library about 45 minutes from Salt Lake, says Kemp.
Association as a Notable Childrens Video. The film, Bart alone will make the film compelling, but the

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story, about choosing your friends wisely, stands spection and disclosurethe title reached the New
alone. York Times and other closely watched best-seller
For more information about Kemps films, visit lists. Several LDS-related web magazines are publish-
ing literary material. Meridian magazine
(, owned by a sub-
News and Notes sidiary of the LDS Churchs Deseret Book, runs
contemporary film commentary by Kieth [sic]
Publishing Merrill; LDS music commentary by Steven Kapp
LDS writer James Michael Pratts novel The Perry; book, film, and video reviews; and occasion-
Last Valentine, about a Navy fighter pilot and his al articles on Mormon literary artists such as Anne
young wife during World War II, reached number Perry and Richard Dutcher. Harvest magazine
29 on the New York Times best-seller list in 1998, ( recently ran an article
has more than half a million copies in print, and is by former AML board member Valerie Holladay
currently under negotiation for movie develop- about her experiences with Mormon literature and
ment. His second book, The Lighthouse Keeper features a column by humorist Edgar Snow,
which also takes place during World War II, involv- IRREANTUMs essay editor. The Mormon section of
ing Irish-American immigrants and centered the interfaith web site Beliefnet
around the Port Hope Lighthouse in ( features original writing by
Massachusettswas released by St. Martins Press author Orson Scott Card, critic and scholar Eugene
earlier this year. He seems to really reach into the England, historian Jan Shipps, former Dialogue edi-
heartland of America, St. Martins executive editor tor Robert Rees, and poet Emma Lou Thayne.
Jennifer Enderlin told the Ogden Standard- News that the LDS Church printed its 100 mil-
Examiner. In New York City, people tend to forget lionth copy of the Book of Mormon on 29
what the rest of the country wants. But James writes February culminates nearly 20 years of heavy print-
what everyday, ordinary Americans want to read ing of the book. As recently as 1981, the LDS
aboutcourage, honor, love. People magazine, Churchs printing department estimated that only
with what might seem a backhanded compliment to 27 million copies had been printed, and the Church
some, called the first novel a return ticket to Bridges was then printing about 1 million copies a year.
of Madison County territory, and a senior editor at Now the Church is printing more than 5 million
Doubleday Book Club wrote that it was the most copies a year, and copies in print have reached more
powerful love story Ive read in years. About the than three times the number printed during the
second novel, a Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote, books first 150 years.
His simple story will please readers ready for a The independent LDS intellectual quarterly
good cry. Dialogue is now represented on the Internet and
Random House, publisher of LDS Church has caught up with delayed publication following a
President Gordon B. Hinckleys recent book recent move to Ohio, where new editors Neal and
Standing for Something, reports 470,000 copies of Rebecca Chandler reside. The well-known journal,
the book in print. Despite Hinckleys aim to reach a founded in 1966 by a group that included LDS
broader audience, industry reports indicate that a author and former BYU professor Eugene England
large proportion of the books sales are to LDS and current LDS Apostle Dallin Oaks, is using its
Church members. A handful of negative reviews web site ( to inform the
notwithstandingfor instance, a Los Angeles Times public about the publication, including full tables
reviewer wrote that Standing for Something ulti- of contents for current and recent issues.
mately rings hollow because the book lacks philo- Walker & Company has published John
sophical heft; it fails to engage in meaningful intro- Gatess novel Brighams Day, in which the 19th-cen-

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tury Mountain Meadows Massacre provides the years. The second title, What Love Is: A Fable for
impetus for a present-day mystery. The story is set Our Times, has sold nearly 20,000 copies. All three
in motion with the killing of a Utah man who pos- gift books are illustrated by Utah artist Kathleen
sesses a document supposedly proving Brigham Peterson. My books are not Mormon booksits
Youngs guilt. To defend the accused murderer, important to me that they have universal appeal
attorney Brigham Bybee must raise questions about but they are infused with all of the good Mormon
the massacre that many locals dont want to face. stuff, Pearson told the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
Gates, 53, was born and raised in Kanab, Utah, near I have one foot firmly placed in Mormonism and
the massacre site. He wrote the novel over seven the other one tap dancing all over the world.
years while he was a criminal defense attorney; hes Pearson has a fourth gift book titled Girlfriend, You
now an assistant city attorney in El Paso. Anti- Are the Best! due from Gibbs Smith later this year, as
Mormons frequently seize on aspects of the well as a longer work titled Fuzzy Red Bathrobe:
Churchs history to condemn the religion, Gates Questions from the Heart for Mothers and Daughters,
said. The Churchs reaction has often been to sup- coauthored with Pearsons daughter Emily. Pearson
press its bad history and focus on its good present reports she is also writing and rewriting plays and
instead. I think [Mormons will] find this book searching for an appropriate subject for a book
enlightening. Although a Publishers Weekly review- about fathers and sons.
er described the book as formulaic and as using After a previous publisher took Brent Rowleys
stock characters and creaky plotting, the reviewer Light Traveler series out of print nearly a year and a
also said that Gates keeps his story moving briskly half ago, the series, aimed at youth readers, has a
and garnishes his tale with well-chosen local details new publisher: Evans Books. Missing Children,
and enough Mormon history and lore to awaken Rowleys latest book in the series, was expected to
the readers interest in the alternate culture that ship to bookstores in early June. The first book in
thrives in Utah. the series, initially published under the title My
The LDS Churchs Deseret Book is among sev- Body Fell Off, was considered quite popular follow-
eral companies that have signed licenses allowing ing its release in August 1997. The second title,
them to produce Olympic-branded goods. Deseret Silver Hawks Revenge, was released in August 1998.
Books license allows it to produce pre-Olympic Rowley is now writing the next book in the series,
hardbound books using the 2002 Winter Games which he expects to publish in March 2001. In
trademarked logo and terminology. In exchange for addition, he says a new series is in the works, with a
the license, Deseret Book agreed to pay SLOC an first volume expected for Christmas.
advance against future royalty payments. The Leap is the title of Terry Tempest Williamss
amount of the advance was not disclosed, nor were newest book. Hieronymus Boschs 15th century
Deseret Books specific plans for the license. painting The Garden of Delights is one of the wildest
Licensees have together paid about $22 million in pictures in Western art, but it may have met its
royalties to the Salt Lake Olympic Committee. match for feverish description in this books hallu-
Carol Lynn Pearsons latest work is a small, cinogenic meditation on it, wrote a Time magazine
inspirational book titled Will You Still Be My reviewer. With cinematic fluency, Williams slips in
Daughter? and subtitled A Fable for Our Times. and out of the painting, riffing on everything from
Published by Gibbs Smith of Layton, Utah, the 32- her Mormon upbringing to the survival of the
page book is the third in a series of inspirational gift monarch butterfly. Strange and endlessly fascinat-
books. The story involves a mature oak tree who ing, her reflections on Boschs images of Heaven,
watches one of her acorns take root and grow a Hell and Earth take on the burning urgency of a
daughter tree. Pearsons first book in the series, The dream. A Chicago Tribune reviewer wrote, The
Lesson: A Fable for Our Times, is now in its sixth recognition of the significance of personal revela-
printing and has sold about 50,000 copies in two tions, and of the sanctity of the earth, resonate pro-

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foundly for Williams, and become key themes in enthused reader stated on that the
her bold and fluent interpretation of Bosch, which, book is the American Angelas Ashes.
in turn, inspires candid, often provocative musings
on the difference between religion and spirituality, Theater
and fresh insights into our complicated and crucial I Am Jane, LDS author and BYU instructor
relationship with nature. Margaret Youngs play about African-American
Former BYU English professor Darrell Spencer Mormon pioneer Jane Manning James, premiered
is the third Mormon-affiliated writer to win the March 5 at the Genesis meetinghouse in Salt Lake
Flannery OConnor Award. His winning story col- City. This summer the play will make its public
lection, Caution: Men in Trees, was recently released debut at the Villa Theater in Springville, Utah, and
by University of Georgia Press. A Book magazine will be performed in Chicago. With dialogue taken
reviewer described the collection as covering an from letters, journals, and an interview transcript,
array of familiar topicsaging, religion, deeply dis- the play tells the story of James, who traveled from
turbed small-town neighbors, death, superstition Connecticut to Nauvoo to meet the Prophet Joseph
and popular culture. The reviewer concluded that Smith and then crossed the plains with the rest of
Spencers wry, gentle vernacular lightens what are, the LDS Church, living in Utah until her death in
for the most part, heavy and rather depressing sub- 1908 at age 95. Young is cowriting a trilogy on the
jects. But while its neatly unified in theme and contributions of African-Americans to Mormon
tone, the collection is somewhat predictable. The history with Genesis president Darius Gray. The
writing itself occasionally redeems this problem, but first novel in the trilogy is expected from Deseret
not quite often enough. Spencer now teaches at an Books Bookcraft imprint later this year; a chapter is
Ohio university and serves on the editorial board of excerpted in this issue of IRREANTUM.
Dialogue. LDS theater producer Fred Adamss Utah
TV correspondent Jon Du Pres new book, The Shakespearean Festival was awarded a Tony for the
Prodigal Father: A True Story of Tragedy, Survival, best regional theater in the United States for 1999.
and Reconciliation in an American Family, has been The award, which was presented June 4, validates
published in trade paperback by Hay House. The 39 years of effort that have made the festival one of
book is Du Pres memoir about finding his homeless the top Shakespearean festivals worldwide and a
father and dealing with all the related baggage from major tourist attraction for southern Utah. The fes-
childhood, including the authors own post-trau- tival has also become a venue for workshopping
matic stress disorder. When asked by Salt Lake City plays by Mormon playwrights, through its reading
Weekly if Deseret Book would carry the title, Du Pre and playwright-in-residence programs. Works by
expressed doubts because its a book that deals with LDS playwrights Eric Samuelsen, Tim Slover, and
a subject that is not very pleasant, and it deals with others have been presented there, and LDS play-
it in a very honest way. Du Pre confirmed telling wright Marianne Hales Harding will be the festivals
members of his ward in Simi, California, not to read playwright in residence for 2000. The Tony
the book because it contains rough language. He includes a cash award of $25,000, which theater
commented, I was more than a little nervous about officials said would probably be used for further
the idea that people I go to church with would . . . expansion. The festival has a long-running capital
be offended. With author appearances booked on campaign for creation of a $55 million
several TV talk showsincluding Oprahthe Shakespearean Center for the Performing Arts,
books first printing was doubled to 80,000, and a planned to occupy several blocks just off the cam-
second printing is anticipated. Movie rights were pus of Southern Utah University in Cedar City.
purchased by Hollywood Pictures for $850,000, Marianne Hales Harding reported the follow-
but rights were allowed to revert to the author after ing on AML-List: My New York playwriting debut
Disney downsized that movie division. One went so well that my play Hold Me is being pro-

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duced again in New York as a part of the New York including his Sundance winner In the Company of
Playwrights Festival September 22 and 23. Hales Men and off-Broadway set of one-act plays, Bash:
recently arrived in Cedar City, Utah, to begin her Latterday [sic] Plays.
tenure as playwright-in-residence at the Utah Originally titled Captain Sunshine, a screenplay
Shakespearean Festival, where her play Next Rest conceived and coauthored by LDS writer David
Stop 78 Miles will be read on July 28 at midnight. Howard was made last year into the science fiction
Hales also reported that interest has been expressed comedy Galaxy Quest. Starring Tim Allen,
in making a film of Hold Me. Sigourney Weaver, and Alan Rickman, the
Two-Headed, playwright Julie Jensens look at DreamWorks release earned over $70 million dur-
the lives of two girls in the wake of the Mountain ing its U.S. run. One of the films coproducers was
Meadows Massacre and polygamy, opened off- Sona Gourgouris, a Brigham Young University
Broadway at the Womens Project Theatre in New graduate. Im still in shock, Howard told Salt
York City on May 11. Described by the New Yorker Lake Citys Deseret News. People who work in the
as a tragicomedy and by the New York Times as industry tell me this kind of thing never happens
elegant and meaningful, the play has only two or that, at best, theres a one-in-10,000 chance of it
characters, Lavinia and Hattie, who are 10-year-olds happening. Adding to his surprise, he said, was the
when the play begins soon after the 1857 massacre. scripts relatively fast turnaround time of four years.
As the play progresses, the audience meets the girls One AML-List observer, however, reported: Dave
at 10-year intervals and witnesses their discussions is a great writer whose screenplay was 95-percent
of the massacre and their polygamous marriages. rewritten by an A-list Hollywood writer, and Dave
Although she grew up an LDS Church member, had to threaten a lawsuit to get his name on the
Jensen said she no longer considers herself a mem- film. Howard, whose play Adam Alone was per-
ber. The play premiered professionally at the Salt formed at this years Sunstone West Symposium,
Lake Acting Company and has also been performed holds a masters degree in theater from Penn State
in Southern California. Another SLAC-premiered and an M.F.A. in playwriting from the University of
Jensen drama, Last Lists of My Mad Mother, recent- Utah. He has more than 50 productions and read-
ly received an extended run at the Hudson Theatre ings to his credit, and his works include The Rose,
Guild in Hollywood and was filmed for PBS. which had a successful five-week run in Venice,
California; Electric Roses, published by Samuel
Film French Books; and The Rite of Spring, produced in
LDS filmmaker Neil LaBute will write and Southern California.
direct the film version of David Ebershoff s novel LDS Oscar-winner Kieth [sic] Merrill directed
The Danish Girl, reported Entertainment Weekly. In the LDS Churchs new film The Testaments: Of One
other LaBute news, the directors most recent proj- Fold and One Shepherd, now being shown in the
ect, Nurse Betty, won best screenplay at this years Legacy Theater in the Joseph Smith Memorial
Cannes Film Festival and is scheduled for U.S. Building in Salt Lake City. Set in the Book of
release on September 29. Starring Chris Rock, Mormon era, the film tells the story of a fictional
Morgan Freeman, Rene Zellweger, and BYU-alum character known as Helam who faces persecution
Aaron Eckhart, the filmwhich was not written by and personal tragedy. The film replaces the popular
LaButehas been described as a dark, film Legacy, which has been moved to a smaller the-
Tarantinoesque comedy about a nurse who, after ater on Temple Square. In other Merrill news, the
her husband is killed by two hitmen, becomes delu- filmmaker is writing, producing, and directing a $6-
sional and goes on a cross-country trek to confess million IMAX film about Utah.
her love to her favorite soap star, while mobsters Two Brigham Young University students
pursue her in the belief that she was a witness. received awards in the Twelfth Annual Christopher
LaBute is known for controversial plays and films, Video Contest for College Students. Brian Brough,

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a film major from Roswell, Georgia, received first Gilmore, who was famously executed for murder in
prize for his film In Time of Need. Christopher Utah in 1977. Among the bizarre-by-any-standards
Watt, a film major from Fernandina, Florida, was Mormon-related imagery in the film is the follow-
awarded honorable mention for his film The ing scene: Gilmore rides a bull in the midst of a
Christmas Kite. Both films appeared in the April 24 salten rodeo ring festooned with beehives and
episode of Christopher Close-up, a syndicated televi- attended by Utah state troopers wielding the twelve
sion series. The Christophers, a nonprofit organiza- flags of the lost tribes of Mormon. The New York
tion founded in 1945 by the late Father James Times has described Barney as the most crucial
Keller and based in New York City, uses print and artist of his generation, and some critics are com-
electronic media to spread a message of hope and paring his work to Richard Wagners Ring cycle.
understanding to people of all faiths and of no par-
ticular faith. Miscellany
BYU alumnus Ryan Littles film The Last Good Just weeks after Utah Valley State College
War recently won a student Emmy for dramatic named well-known LDS scholar and author
film from the Academy of Television and Film. Shot Eugene England as its first writer-in-residence, the
in Utah County using authentic World War II cos- college held its first conference about the study of
tumes, guns, pictures, vehicles, and supplies, the Mormon culture. England, who spearheaded the
film centers around service and charity, according to conference, said his goal is to start a center for
Little. The film was previously honored with the Mormon cultural studies at UVSC as part of the
Judges/Audience Choice Award at the Final Cut colleges religious studies program. We wish to
Film Festival and with the Jimmy Stewart Memorial introduce to the UVSC community, and also the
Crystal Heart Award at the Heartland Film Festival. local community that supports it, what the scientif-
Little graduated from Ricks College in theater stud- ic study of Mormon culture is, and what value it has
ies and from BYU in film studies in August 1999, for them, he said. An increasing number of schol-
and he currently works as a camera assistant at the ars and their students recognize that religious and
LDS Motion Picture Studio in Provo. ethnic identity is a huge part of human life, and so
New York Citys Village Voice reported that the more and more ethnic and religious study centers
story of a document forged by former LDS Church are being created. Mormons are a strong ethnic and
member Mark Hofmann may be made into a film. religious group, and we are finding that academic
The purported Emily Dickenson poem was sold at study of Mormon culture can help both Mormons
auction by Sothebys in 1997 to the Jones Library in and non-Mormons understand their experience and
Amherst, Massachusetts, but the forgery was later live better lives together in our increasingly diverse
discovered through the efforts of a librarian there. world. A major conference theme was Mormon
Author Simon Worrall has sold versions of the missionary culture, with discussions of missionary
story to the Manchester Guardian, Sydney Morning folklore, creative writing about missionaries, and
Herald and Paris Review and put the movie rights up the film Gods Army. Participating LDS writers
for sale. included Lee Mortensen, Karin Anderson England,
Cremaster 2, the latest in Matthew Barneys Richard Dutcher, Barbara Bannon, Chris Hicks,
nonsequentially numbered, avant-garde films, has Tim Slover, and Sharon Swenson.
been released. A Harpers reviewer said the film is People who want to stay informed about Life,
about the metaphysical difficulty of becoming a the Universe, and Everything, BYUs annual sci-
man. The Mormons, Barney suggests, with their ence fiction convention, may subscribe to the con-
weird religion and taste for polygamy, are very ventions new e-mail list by sending a message to
much like a beehive, which works to suppress the <>. The moderated list
masculine power latent in any one drone. The will provide official announcements, calls for
films main character is a fictionalized Gary papers, and summaries of planning meetings, and

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list subscribers may give feedback and ask questions. Atlantis, the author includes lyrics from the 1957
LDS-owned retailer Deseret Book recently song Black Slacks by Joe Bennett and the
introduced its own auction site to compete with the Sparkletones. But Bennett, a Latter-day Saint,
major auction sites at eBay and objected to Kings explicit and offensive language in
Located at, the site hosts the book. I dont want to seem pious, but this is
material that is aimed at but not exclusively for LDS absolutely not endorsed by me, Bennett said.
Church members. To launch the site, Deseret Book Thats the bottom line. This is just shock stuff.
received help from used and rare books dealer Rights to the song are owned by MCA, which
Benchmark Books, which provided a selection of received $10,000 from King. Bennett didnt know
material. the song was in the novel until he received a royalty
Eighty-two Western American studies scholars statement. He wrote a letter to King asking him not
met at the Provo Marriott Hotel and BYU from 30 to use his songs in the future. But if he wants to,
March to 1 April to discuss the role of religion and Bennett commented, we dont have any legal
values in literature. Titled Spiritual Frontiers ground to stand on.
2000: Belief and Values in the Literary West, the A judge dismissed an Ogden womans claims
conference featured 12 plenary speakers and 20 that LDS author Richard Paul Evans used ideas
symposium fellows who examined the work of such from her manuscript in his best-selling 1998 novel
writers as Owen Wister, Cormac McCarthy, The Locket. The lawsuit claimed Evanss book
Norman Maclean, Willa Cather, Mark Twain, and includes distinctive sequences of events, distinctive
Jack London. locale, similarity of characters, similar plot, and
Karl Sandberg, a prominent LDS Church other original ideas from a novel manuscript hand-
member and former professor of French at ed to Evans at a 1995 writers conference in Provo.
Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, passed In his 24-page opinion, the judge ruled that any
away in St George, Utah, of complications from thematic or plot similarities could not be called
diabetes. Sandberg, who also taught at Duke, the copyright infringement. Otherwise, forbidden
University of Arizona, and the University of romance stories would have ended with
Minnesota, was 69. He was a frequent writer and Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet, or sooner, he
speaker on topics related to Mormon history and wrote. Evans, 37, is best known for The Christmas
philosophy, and his poems appeared in Dialogue Box, a book he self-published before selling it and
and Sunstone magazines. his second novel to Simon & Schuster for more
The Mormon Arts Festival, held annually for than $4 million. He has also published The
the past few years, has changed to every two years. Christmas Candle, The Letter, The Timepiece, The
As a result, the next festival will be held 1214 April Dance, and The Looking Glass.
2001 at Tuacahn, the arts complex near St. George, Writers Digest reported that LDS science fiction
Utah. The festival will not be held this year. and fantasy author Dave Wolverton set a new
A California judge recently took unusual meas- world record in Los Angeles for the largest single-
ures to make the punishment for vandalism of an author book signing. Wolverton signed 1,845
LDS chapel fit the crime. Judge Vilia Sherman, copies of A Very Strange Trip, which he based on a
after deciding the crime was motivated by religious short story coauthored by the late L. Ron Hubbard,
hatred, required the two vandals to read the Book of who also previously held the book-signing record.
Mormon and write a 2,000 word essay about it. I Heres a new literary community service idea for
believe religious hatred is based on ignorance, full-time missionaries: providing distraction for
Judge Sherman told the two defendants, both of struggling, homebound novelists. Oprah-anointed,
whom wore starched white shirts, ties, and dark best-selling novelist Wally Lamb, author of Shes
slacks, ironically similar to LDS missionaries. Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True,
In Stephen Kings recent novel Hearts in described to the Chronicle of Higher Education his

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agony getting started on his second novel: By the UT, 84103; phone 801-355-5926, fax 801-355-
end of that endless first week, I had come to rely 4043, e-mail <>.
hungrily on the arrival of the mailman, the alu- Although not directly connected to
minum-siding and gutter salesmen, the random Mormonism, two upcoming Salt Lake City writing
pairs of religious missionaries-young men, usually, conferences may be of interest to visiting or resident
wearing conservative suits and just barely shaving, Mormon writers. Writers at Work, Utahs national-
the ink still wet on their high school diplomas, ly prominent annual writing conference, will hold
standing at my door to show me the light. My busy workshops and discussions July 914 at
life and I had shooed them away for years, but now, Westminster College in Salt Lake City. For infor-
Come in, come in. After salesmen and missionaries, mation about topics, faculty members, visiting
Lamb sought escape in paddleball and paper-clip agents and editors, and registration, see www.ihi-
games. Also, the League of Utah
Emma Lou Thayne recently received an hon- Writers will hold its annual conference September
orary doctorate of humane letters from the 1516 at the Salt Lake Airport Hilton Hotel.
University of Utah. The citation read, in part: In Offerings include workshops, guest speakers, con-
consideration of her lifes work dedicated to the bet- test awards, one-on-one sessions with a literary
terment of her family, community, and state; for her agent, tables for selling self-published books, and
prolific record as the author of 13 books in poetry, more. For information, contact LUW president
fiction, and nonfiction; for her service to the Dorothy Crofts at 801-964-0861 or visit luwrite.tri-
University of Utah as both associate instructor of
English and coach of the womens tennis team; for Writing Your Way into Print, BYUs first
her trailblazing service as the only woman on the Writing for Young Readers workshop, will be held
board of directors of the Deseret News from 1977 to July 1720 at the universitys Provo campus. Billed
1994; for her constant advocacy of worthwhile as a four-day workshop for aspiring writers on the art
causes and her unwavering support of the arts and of publishing books for teenagers and children, the
humanities. conference offers participants tutoring by published
authors, sessions to network with authors and edi-
Especially for Writers tors, open microphone readings, daily writing con-
The Sunstone Foundation is accepting entries tests, informal evening critique groups, and more.
postmarked by June 30 for its annual fiction con- For information, see
test. Stories submitted to the contest must relate to While youve got your planner open, be sure to
Latter-day experience, theology, or worldview and mark two upcoming dates for Association for
fit in either of two categories: short short story (less Mormon Letters events: The tentative date for our
than 1,000 words) and short story (less than 6,000 annual Mormon writers conference at UVSC in
words). The foundation will award prizes of up to Orem, Utah, is 11 November. For more informa-
$400 per story in the two categories. Each entry tion, watch IRREANTUM and your mail, or contact
requires a $5 entry fee; please contact Sunstone for conference chairperson Scott Bronson at <bronson-
other entrance requirements. Also, Sunstone is seek->. Also, see the call for papers in
ing proposals for the 2000 Sunstone Symposium, this issues AML News section for more information
which will be held 25 August at the Salt Lake about next years annual scholarly conference,
Marriott Hotel. Sessions may feature scholarly scheduled for 24 February 2001. For updated infor-
papers, panel discussions, interviews, personal mation on all things AML, keep an eye on
essays, sermons, dramatic performances, literary
readings, debates, comic routines, art displays, or
music presentations. Contact the Sunstone
Foundation at 343 N. Third West, Salt Lake City,

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Note: If you have a Mormon literary news item or Dutcher, Richard. Gods Army (film) [ACS]
notice a relevant item in another publication, please Video: Movie Made by LDS Filmmaker to
send the information to <>. Portray Missionary Life as It Is, Deric Nance,
KBYU, 14 February
Films Coming This Spring to a Theater Near
Recent Mormon-Related Reviews You, Deseret News, 3 March
Filmmaker Sees Gods Army as a Study of
Note: The following codes indicate why each review was Faith, Jerry Johnston, Deseret News, 4 March
included in this selective listing; please inform the magazine Gods Army Starts Strong but Finishes
of any corrections. Sappy, Sean P. Means, Salt Lake Tribune, 9 March
[A] LDS author or author with Mormon heritage LDS Moviegoers May Give Gods Army a
[C] LDS characters Boost, Chris Hicks, Deseret News, 10 March
[S] LDS subject or theme Likable Gods Army Only Wobbles a Little
Bit, Jeff Vice, Deseret News, 10 March
Adams, William Jenson. Sanpete Tales (Signature Director/Writer Says He Made Film for His
Books, 2000) [CS] Fellow Mormons, Steve Salles, Ogden Standard-
2 Books Tell of Western Epic through Very Examiner, 10 March
Different Eyes, Carma Wadley, Salt Lake Tribune, Gods Army Describes Missionary
27 February Experience, Steve Salles, Ogden Standard-Examiner,
Barber, Phyllis. Parting the Veil: Stories from a 10 March
Mormon Imagination (Signature Books, 2000) [ACS] Gods Army, Eric D. Snider, Provo Daily
Parting the Veil: Stories from a Mormon Herald, 10 March
Imagination, Martin Naparsteck, Salt Lake Four Days after First Screening, Gods Army
Tribune, 5 March Conquers Utah Movie Box Office, Sean P. Means,
Barney, Matthew. Cremaster 2 (film) [ACS] Salt Lake Tribune, 15 March
Onan the Magnificent, Harpers Magazine, March Gods Army Returned Me to Trenches,
Beck, Martha Nibley. Expecting Adam: A True Story of Lee Benson, Deseret News, 17 March
Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic (Random House, Gods Army Is Really Taking Off, Jeff Vice,
1999) [AS] Deseret News, 24 March
Mormon Letters Group Honors Elder For LDS Filmmaker, Movie Was Nothing
Maxwell, Deseret News, 4 March Short of a Miracle, Peggy Fletcher Stack, Salt Lake
Supernatural Beings, Kathleen Housley, The Tribune, 25 March
Christian Century, 5 April Notes from the Dark, Rick Brough, Park
Brady, Josh. Great Gardens (drama) [ACS] City Record, 8 April
Great Gardens, Deseret News, 7 May Gods Army Marches on to Hollywood,
Clyde, Mary. Survival Rates (University of Georgia Sean P. Means, Salt Lake Tribune, 27 April
Press, 1999) [ACS] A Mormon Mission to L.A. in Gods Army,
Mormon Letters Group Honors Elder Kathleen Craughwell, Los Angeles Times, 28 April
Maxwell, Deseret News, 4 March Gonzalez S., Sylvia. Dont Promise (drama) [S]
Cracroft, Paul. Sams Place (drama) [AC] Small-Town Confessions, Lawrence
Sams Place, Deseret News, 7 May Bommer, Chicago Tribune, 21 April
Day, Diane. Death Train to Boston (Doubleday, 1999) Harrell, Jack. Every Knee Shall Bow (unpublished)
[C] [ACS]
On the Right Track, Ed Kelly, Buffalo News, Novel Nets Ricks Teacher $1,000 from LDS
12 March group, Deseret News, 25 March

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Hinckley, Gordon B. Standing for Something: 10 Pyrah, Ogden Standard-Examiner, 20 March

Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and New Movie Replaces Legacy, Joe Pyrah,
Homes (Times Books, 2000) [ACS] Ogden Standard-Examiner, 20 March
Hinckleys Book Hits #34 on USA Today Livin Large: Former Utahn is the Godfather
List, Kent Larsen, Mormon News, 29 February of IMAX, Jeff Vice, Deseret News, 31 March
LDS Prophets Book Targets Mainstream Pearson, Carol Lynn. Will You Still Be My Daughter?
Readers, Hannah Wolfson, Associated Press, 6 (Gibbs Smith, 2000) [AS]
March Inspirational Messages Pour from Authors
From Mormons Leader, 10 Worthwhile Tomes, Marlin Stum, Ogden Standard-Examiner,
Virtues to Live By, Gustav Niebuhr, New York 23 April
Times, 11 March Perry, Anne. Half Moon Street (Ballantine Books, 2000)
President Hinckleys Book Making Milestones [A]
for LDS Church, Daniel Hodson, BYU Daily Half Moon Street Is EnthrallingBut Also
Universe, 22 March Dark, Graphic Mystery, Susan Whitney, Deseret
Lack of Depth Weakens Guide to Moral News, 16 April
Living, Ralph Frammolino, Los Angeles Times, 22 Perrys Work Ethic Assures that Success Is No
April Mystery, Melinda Miller, Salt Lake Tribune, 16
Standing Sales are outstanding, Dennis April
Lythgoe, Deseret News, 11 May Perry, Anne. Tathea (Deseret Book, 1999) [AS]
Jensen, Julie. Two-Headed (drama) [ACS] Mormon Letters Group Honors Elder
After the Massacre: Two-Headed Looks at Maxwell, Deseret News, 4 March
Emotional Spillover, Celia R. Baker, Salt Lake Perry, Stephen Kapp. Polly (drama) [ACS]
Tribune, 30 January Finding Family Relatives, Tinah Saunders,
Two-Headed Opens for Three-Week Run in Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 3 February
New York City, Kent Larsen, Mormon News, 12 Polly Offers Slice of One Womans Life,
May Eric D. Snider, Provo Daily Herald, 3 March
Joffe, Roland. Goodbye Lover (film) [CS] PollyLike the Shows NamesakeStands
Nice Comic Touch, Mike Bruce, The Press the Test of Time, Laurie Williams Sowby, Utah
(Auckland, New Zealand), 10 March County Journal, 8 March
LaBute, Neil. Bash: Latterday Plays (drama) [ACS] Perry, Stephen Kapp and Marvin Payne. Wedlocked
A London Season with the Stamp Made in (drama) [ACS]
the U.S., Matt Wolf, New York Times, 5 March Like Marriage, Play Offers Ups and Downs,
Bash: Enduring Myth Meets Modern Sharon Haddock, Deseret News, 12 April
Mush, William Triplett, Washington Post, 7 March Marrieds Should See WedlockedThen
Bash: Latterday Plays, William Triplett, Talk about It, Laurie Williams Sowby, Utah County
Washington Post, 10 March Journal, 23 April
Maxwell, Neal A. One More Strain of Praise (Deseret Pratt, James Michael. The Last Valentine (St. Martins
Book, 1999) [AS] Press, 1998) and The Lighthouse Keeper (2000) [A]
Mormon Letters Group Honors Elder The Last Valentine and The Lighthouse
Maxwell, Deseret News, 4 March Keeper Are Inspired by Life Events, Amy Schoon,
Merrill, Kieth. The Testaments: Of One Fold and One Ogden Standard-Examiner, 7 May
Shepherd (LDS Church, 2000) [ACS] Samuelsen, Eric. A Love Affair with Electrons (drama)
One Fold, One Shepherd to Replace Legacy [AC]
in LDS Big-screen Theater, Carrie A. Moore, 8 Productions Plus One Premiere Open This
Deseret News, 20 March Week, Deseret News, 5 March
LDS Film Was a Major Job to Produce, Joe Love Affair with Electrons Is Inventive

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Drama, Sharon Haddock, Deseret News, 15 March Contributions to Mormon History, Beverly Beal,
Eric Samuelsen, Eric D. Snider, Provo Daily BYU Daily Universe, 28 February
Herald, 19 March New Play Commemorates African-American
Samuelsen, Eric. The Way Were Wired (drama) [ACS] Womans Courageous Journey to the Salt Lake
Mormon Letters Group Honors Elder Valley, Bob Mims, Salt Lake Tribune, 4 March
Maxwell, Deseret News, 4 March
Tuckett, Phil. Faces of Evil (documentary film) [A]
A Documentary Goes to Hell and Back A M L - L I S T
Again, Jim Beckerman, Bergen Record, 6 April
Tunnell, Michael. Mailing May (Greenwillow, 1997)
BYU Professor an Award-Winning Childrens Compiled by Jonathan Langford
Author, Amber Meager, BYU Daily Universe, 6
March AML-List provides an ongoing forum for broad-
Ure, James W. Leaving the Fold: Conversations with ranging conversation and a stimulating exchange of
Inactive Mormons (Signature Books, 1999) [S] opinions related to Mormon literature. Two espe-
Ure Lets Inactive Mormons Air Their Views cially rich topics during February, March, and April
on the Church, Martin Naparsteck, Salt Lake 2000 were the release of Richard Dutchers movie
Tribune, 13 February Gods Army, about a set of LDS missionaries, and
Van Wagoner, Robert Hodgson. Dancing Naked the question of how family responsibilities and
(Signature Books, 1999) [A] artistic creation can be effectively juggled. Read on
The Controversy over Dancing Naked, for a sampling of the sentiment on these and other
Marlin Stum, Ogden Standard-Examiner, 12 March topics. If you find yourself champing to chime in,
Naked in Zion, Andrea Malouf, Salt Lake send an e-mail message to <majordomo@xmis-
City Weekly, 27 April> that reads: subscribe aml-list. A confirma-
Walton, Rick. Once There Was a Bull . . . frog (Paper tion request will be sent to your e-mail address; fol-
Star, 1998) [A] low the directions to complete your subscription.
Childrens Author Comes to Lindon AML-List is moderated by Jonathan Langford, who
Elementary, Harlow Clark, Pleasant Grove Review, recently took over the reins from list founder and
19 April longtime moderator Benson Parkinson.
Williams, Terry Tempest. Leap (Pantheon, 2000) [AS]
Leap, Charlotte Abbott, Sarah F Gold, and Willy Wonka Allegory
Mark Rotella, Publishers Weekly, 3 April Chris Bigelow (Mar. 8): Last night I was talking
Terry Tempest Williams Leaps into a New to my wife about how Charlie and the Chocolate
Landscape, Melinda Miller, Salt Lake Tribune, 30 Factory is an allegory for the plan of salvation. . . .
April Im thinking of the movie rather than the book
Williams, Terry Tempest, William B. Smart, and Gibbs (its been decades since I read the book, but Ive seen
M. Smith, editors. New Genesis: A Mormon Reader on the movie six times in the last year because my kids
Land and Community (Gibbs Smith, 1999) [AS] like itand I like it too). Anyway, I was thinking of
New Genesis: A Mormon Reader on Land the chocolate factory as the temple, and Willy
and Community, Michael K. Stone, Whole Earth, Wonka as the Savior. (Try not to laugh.) And the
Spring 2000 five kids are on a quest like earthly probation, to see
Young, Margaret B. Standing on the Promises (Deseret if they will obey the commandments so that Willy
Book, forthcoming) and untitled drama on Jane Wonka can decide who to give all that he hath unto.
Manning James [ACS] Admission is only by golden ticket, which doesnt
LDS Author, Support Group Honor Black parallel temple recommends very well. But there

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could be some magic at work in determining who that you mentioned and some that you didnt:
gets the tickets, and indeed spiritual forces guide 1. The greatest possible reward in Charlies imag-
people to get temple recommends. ination is a lifetime supply of chocolate, but what
And Im sorry, but the oompa loompas are a lot he winds up with is all that the Father hath (eye
like temple workers. They dress in white, perform hath not seen nor ear heard . . . ).
menial tasks to keep the factory going, and offer 2. When Violet confronts Wonka on the
moral wisdom. And that opening edible paradise snozzberry issue in the lickable wallpaper scene, he
within the factory is very much like the Garden of responds in [a] genuinely parable-like way (we are
Eden. the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of
One by one the kids fall prey to temptations and dreams) that has at once nothing and everything to
lose their celestial inheritance. The worst tempta- do with her comment.
tion is orchestrated by the devil figure Slugworth, 3. I think the oompa-loompas are like general
the head of a competing kingdom who tempts the authorities (President Monson springs most imme-
kids to take fruit from the tree of life for ulterior diately to mind) who crystallize the kids experi-
motives of industrial espionage (the everlasting gob- ences into little moralized statements of principle. I
stopper is a brilliant spiritual symbol in of itself ). In always imagine their tunes beginning with and
the end Slugworth turns out to be an agent of Willy thus we see. . . .
Wonka; while our real devil is not apparently a will- 4. At the beginning of the journey through the
ing agent of God, he certainly is helping fulfill factory, each kid is asked to sign an impossibly long
Gods plan. and complex contract without reading it, and they
Charlie falls prey to temptation as well, but in the all wind up shrugging their shoulders and signing it
end he repents and redeems himself by the sacrifice in good faith anyway (how many of us knew just
of his everlasting gobstopper. And Willy Wonka what we were getting into when we were baptized?).
rewards him with inheritance of the whole factory 5. Even little things seem significant in weird
and leadership role. Charlie has been exalted. ways, like the geography teacher citing the musical
Okay, okay, its full of holes and perhaps a bit code to the chocolate garden room as by
irreverent. But I find it quite fascinating. Perhaps Rachmaninoff when its really Mozart, or the wacky
some of our most successful storytellers are success- cream-spurting car going through the device that
ful because they echo eternal truths, often without cleanses it or (perhaps especially) the ride through
even consciously knowing it. I find this story closer the tunnel on the boat where all you can do is hold
in parallel to the plan of salvation than most, and as on and trust the driver, even though what hes say-
my kids get older I intend to speak about the gospel ing seems like nonsense and even though this par-
with them in terms of the Willy Wonka story. . . . ticular part of the journey scares the bejeebers out of
Dont get me started on The Wizard of Oz . . . you.
Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury (Mar. 9): I have
had similar thoughts about that movie, but I have Gods Army
come to the conclusion that Willy Wonka is a false AML-List subscriber and newspaper movie critic
Savior (Antichrist, perhaps?) because he sets each of Eric Snider started off a discussion of the movie Gods
the children up to fail, and he seems to like sending Army, produced by Richard Dutcher, by posting a
them to their doom. The use of the servant who draft version of the review he was writing for the Provo
tempts the children is just another nail in that cof- Daily Herald. A revised version of this review appears
fin as far as Im concerned. in the reviews section of this issue of IRREANTUM. The
Im sorry, but I believe that Christ is pulling for discussion picked up from there. (Comments specifical-
us, not setting us up. ly about the miracle scene in Gods Army are listed
Sam Payne (Mar. 11): There are a number of separately below.)
things [about this movie] that blow me away, some R.W. Rasband (Mar. 3): Ive seen the trailer for

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this movie, and some of them elders are a little hairi- edged matter-of-factly. The issue of blacks is raised
er than the standard missionary cut. On a more seri- in an open, unfiltered, and deeply personal way and
ous note, there are issues I would like to see dealt is never neatly resolved.
with in an honest missionary movie. My mission To his non-Mormon audience, Dutcher will not
was a good experience, but in addition to experi- defer. He stands courageously before them and says,
encing the usual distinction between elders and sis- miracles do occur on missions, and Im going to
ters who wanted to be there and wanted to work show one. People experience conversions by the
and those that didnt, I also saw elders who enjoyed Spirit, and my characters will experience them
the exercise of arbitrary power and competition for too. . . .
status. There was . . . a certain Lord of the Flies aspect I say, every LDS filmmaker with dreams of fol-
to some of it, which I suppose is inevitable in any lowing in Dutchers footsteps ought to be trembling
setting largely composed of young men. . . . My first in their moccasins right now, because Gods Army
mission president was a good man but he had a will be a tough act to follow.
house in Salt Lakes Capitol Hill district and most- Benson Parkinson (Mar. 23): Judging from the
ly enjoyed the company of elders whose parents had buzz around my office (in Salt Lake), people like
money. . . . It looks like Gods Army is much more Gods Army very well and are quite excited about it.
candid than other depictions of missionary life but One coworker who saw it last night (I think) said
it doesnt sound like it gets down to the nitty-gritty. people in the audiences keep whispering, Yeah,
Well see. thats just right, or They got that too, and that all
Eric Snider (Mar. 6): Gods Army is definitely a over the audience afterwards people were telling
more honest depiction of missionaries than any- each other missionary stories. One person didnt
thing Ive seen before. It certainly doesnt address like the miracle. A couple were bothered by the mis-
every single aspect, but how could it? It also wraps sion president being so stern. A returned sister mis-
some things up too neatlybut it is a movie, after sionary was bothered at seeing priesthood ordi-
all, and sometimes thats what movies do. nances depicted in that setting and also, in regards
Tyler Moulton (Mar. 7): Dutcher has set the bar to controversial matters, wanted there to be more
for anyone else that comes along. explanation or less. She said Dutcher was at her
D. Michael Martindale (Mar. 23): I would be screening, and that he stressed that this was to show
hard put to figure out how to make Dutchers pres- outsiders what Mormons were really like. Again she
entation more balanced or more honestgiven of was bothered, because she thought there was so
course that its a story told by a Mormon to other much inside stuff that would go right by non-
Mormons. Nobody is given a pass, nobody is kow- Mormons.
towed to, no emotion is manipulatively pried out of Gae Lyn Henderson (Mar. 23): My fifteen-year-
the viewers. old left the theater saying, I wish it could go on
For his Mormon audience, Dutcher will not forever. I felt like that too. It felt good to see my
sweep reality under the rug lest he offend. The mis- culture reinforced, it felt validating. . . .
sionaries are young men with young mens foibles, I also agree with several people who didnt like the
trying to rise above their own inadequacies to voice-over where did we all end up conclusion. It
accomplish a marvelous work. The main character seemed contrived, less effective. But on the other
reaches a crisis of faith, because hes bearing witness hand, it did allow for a couple of additional points
to things hes not sure of: guaranteeing Moronis to be made. (1) [It showed] that a missionary can
promise when he hasnt put it to the test himself. serve faithfully for two years and then choose to
One missionary tries to go home, but is encouraged leave Church activity. (2) The shot of [the] baby at
to stay and does. Another tries to go home, and all the end, while sentimental, is a positive reinforce-
the encouragement in the world cant stop him. The ment for families. The notion that families can be
existence of anti-Mormon literature is acknowl- forever took quite a shot when one investigator

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with kids running around screaming and fighting sugar to prepare us for the medicine of the last third,
said no thank you to that possibility. I guess the which I still found gagging me.
point of the final scene is to say that people can I dont think the movie should have avoided any-
choose, can change for good or evil. Change is pos- thing it went into, but for my dry spiritual tastes it
sible. That is an exciting message and a sobering should have reduced the spiritual melodrama of that
one. last third by at least half. But maybe the filmmaker
Skip Hamilton (Apr. 10): I was involved in a felt he had to hit people over the head with faith-
conversation with the leaders of our ward this week- affirming spiritual stuff to atone for the liberties he
end. They had just returned from Utah and had took in depicting missionary life.
seen Gods Army. These are very educated men. One Beth Hatch (Apr. 11): So many things in this
is even a very artistic individual who does water movie seemed to parallel events in Christs life.
painting and has a gorgeous baritone voice. They Jesus had His new disciples put down their nets
acknowledged, in a hesitant and truthful manner, and follow Him. Dalton had the new missionary
the accuracy of Dutchers portrait. One even went pick up his bags, follow him, and they immediately
so far as to say that everything portrayed in the went to work.
movie had happened to him or his companions The new missionary seemed surprised when he
when he was on his mission. first saw Dalton speaking with the prostitutes.
Why their hesitancy? Because they were very Dalton treated the prostitutes with respect and
uncertain about the showing of the actual priest- kindness, and one of them converted to the gospel.
hood ordinances on screen. It wasnt the miracle The missionaries were working with the poor.
which made them uncomfortable, but actually por- Dalton overturned the kitchen table in what
traying in a very realistic manner the actual ordi- seemed to me to be righteous anger.
nances. It was more than just the pearls before Dalton was always a teacher, a trainer. (A very
swine argument. These brethren hold that power wise one.)
and literally view its application in priesthood serv- People had expected Christ to be a political king;
ice as a divine gift. They are always willing to talk instead, He was a spiritual king. The injured mans
with others about this blessing of the Church. Yet sister begged Dalton to do something with his med-
[they felt] that showing the actual prayers and ordi- ical knowledge to help her brother; instead, the
nances on the screen made those ordinances com- injured man was healed through a spiritual bless-
mon, allowing them overly frequent exposure to ing. . . .
a large general public who will not appreciate their Dalton was missing from his hospital bed. He
sacredness, [thus diminishing] that sacredness. was off doing the work hed come to do.
Chris Bigelow (Apr. 11): Overall I quite liked the Christ knew He was going to die. Dalton knew
movie and felt very happy and grateful to have such he was going to die soon, possibly during his mis-
a phenomenon in Mormon culture. But I would sion.
have to say I liked the first half much better than the In the bus station, the disillusioned missionary
second. . . . tried to tempt the newer missionary to come away
I felt that the first half of the film was intended to with him. Dalton wrestled with this disillusioned,
both disarm us and gain our trust, break us out of tempting missionary. . . .
our skepticism about unrealistic Church propagan- We are shown Daltons hand being gently washed
da. But then we get into total melodrama in the last in a bowl of water, his body being dressed for bur-
third, with the conversion, healing, and death. Im ial.
sorry, I thought those elements were quite excessive In a dark, cavernous building, the small band of
and over the top. In retrospect, the . . . quirky por- missionaries gathers around Daltons casket and
trayal of missionary life [in the first half of the mourns. Then, after the casket is carried away, the
movie] seemed disingenuous to me, sort of like huge doors are rolled shut.

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Rebirth. The missionary marries and names his Ive read five reviews of Gods Army in Utah news-
new son Dalton. papers, and theyve all been the same: knee-jerk
I wonder if this movie is meant to do more than protestations against an LDS filmmaker choosing to
show the world what Mormon missionaries do dur- put a miracle at the heart of his film. And yet, not
ing their missions. I think it may be meant to show, one of those reviews has chosen to explain why such
through allusions to Christs ministry, that Mormon a moment doesnt work. Well, they cant, in my
missionaries are indeed engaged in Gods work. humble opinion, because it does work. Dutcher
What the Volkswagen bus means, I dont know. I frames the miracle so deftly that the scene really is
suspect it means something, though. . . . My son effective. So I must therefore conclude that were all
would probably say it has to do with Volkswagens just so embarrassed that a Mormon would write a
being classic and timeless! scene in which a crippled man, given a blessing,
Steve Perry (Apr. 16): The sound effects in [Elder walks.
Allens conversion scene] were fun. . . . While the Thom Duncan (Mar. 13): Dutchers character is
elder is first trying to pray for an answer we hear a a gung-ho missionary. He is a near fanatic (though
car in the alley outside trying over and over to start a likeable one). He goes to Bennys house, sees him
up. No luck. practically dead.
Then as the night continues he really starts look- Instead of doing what every other missionary in
ing worriedwe hear an ambulance drive by out- the world would have done at that point, he doesnt
side. ask if he can give a blessing. Why?
Then when things finally start working, i.e., Only one reason that I can see. So that Bennys
making a spiritual connection, we hear a helicopter sister can ask Dutchers character to do the blessing.
taking off or flying over. That way we can see the dramatic act of Dalton
dumping his pills, and going to sacrifice his life for
Miracle Scene in Gods Army the convert. Puh-leeze. Melodramatic to the
Eric Samuelsen (Mar. 13, regarding comments max. . . .
critical of the miracle scene in Gods Army): This A man who hasnt walked his whole life comes
has been echoed by several critics. The miracle scene out of a room walking for the first time. Now, I
is corny, or hokey, or cheesy, or it doesnt work dont know about you, but if I had been present, I
for some reason, or gosh its embarrassing. would have been absolutely devastated. I wouldnt
Whatever. have sat there and then reacted as though Benny
I cant possibly disagree more. There is a miracle had just returned from a walk around the block.
scene in Gods Army. A healing takes place. Are we Those people, including the missionaries, should
to conclude that we cant put a miracle in a movie have had tears streaming down their faces. . . .
about missionaries? It was too cheap and easy for him to take the way
The fact is, Dutcher handles the scene very care- out that he did. The gutsy thing to do would have
fully. We see elders give a guy a blessing. Its handled been to have Benny not get healed and then to see
very low-key, very matter-of-fact. We see a shot of Dalton struggling with that. But of course we cant
the crippled guys feet as he sets them on the floor. have that, because then we wouldnt see Brother X
And then we see him walk into a kitchen and hug stop drinking coffee and then Bennys sister and
his sister. No swelling violins, no fancy lighting himself being baptized. It was a dramatic cop-out.
effects, no heightening of the event cinematically. Dutcher did the equivalent of kicking a dog to get
And the scene works. Its essential too, unless we sympathy instead of making his script work for
want to say that miracles dont happen on missions, it. . . .
and that, it seems to me, is a very odd thing for us All the above being said, I want to go on record
to want to say. . . . as saying that the film is otherwise a marvelous cre-
Im sorry, folks, but I feel very strongly about this. ation. The acting is 99.9 percent excellent (the first

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scene with the mission president was a little harsh, knowledge when he cant do anything with it to
in my opinion). The characters are very realistic. help Benny. . . . Flushing them down the sink was
The direction is marvelous. The songs are very his way of saying, If I cant help Benny with my
appropriate and gutsy (a missionary movie with a medical knowledge, Im not going to selfishly help
song called Go to Hell). myself with it either. Well both just rely on the
But I think Dutcher faltered at the end. He lost Lord. That was the impression I got. He wanted to
faith in his material and went for the easy fix. put himself in the same situation Benny was in.
Eric Samuelsen (Mar. 14): On my mission, I That may have been foolish, but I can at least
gave a blessing to a woman who had fallen (or empathize with the characters feelings about it.
jumped) off a hundred foot high bridge into the Terry Jeffress (Apr. 12): Dalton said that he took
Arctic Ocean. She was on life support when we got a long time studying the Church before joining
there, and the doctors said there was nothing they because he had to overcome all the issues he found
could do, and that shed be dead within an hour. while studying Mormon and anti-Mormon litera-
Scared me to death, the thought of giving her a ture. He was also in medical school. Once convert-
blessing. Thats what I read on Daltons face. . . . ed, he gave up medical school and became a teacher
I dont think he tosses the pills so that he can give in the Lords school. Dalton gave up the possibility
his own life for Benny. He tosses the pills because of healing mens bodies for healing their spirits. But,
they fog his head, cloud his mind. He tosses the pills as with most of us, Dalton still has room to learn
so that he will be more receptive to the Spirit. . . . and grow.
He knows hes sick, but he also figures hes not all Dalton throws the pills in the sink after Bennys
that sick; he can still do the work, and hes not going sister asks him to use his medical knowledge to help
to let some doctor tell him what to do. her brother. She asked him to lean on the arm of
D. Michael Martindale (Apr. 10): I will remark flesh, and Dalton realizes that when he takes pills
that I thought it was a marvelous and realistic touch that he is still relying somewhat on the arm of flesh
to have Dalton bless his convert and obtain a mirac- and not entirely on the arm of God. Throwing the
ulous healing, but die himself from a fatal disease. pills in the sink represents Dalton making a final
The movie also left completely open why it hap- push away from the arm of flesh and leaning fully
pened. Did Dalton ask for the miracle for himself, on the arm of God. Dalton realizes that even if he
but God didnt grant it? Or did Dalton, in bitter- were a doctor, he could heal the boys wounds but
sweet but very human fashion, not want to ask for not the boys handicap. But with the Lord, all things
himself, thinking it would be too pretentious of are possible.
him? Thom Duncan (Apr. 12): I believe [Dalton drop-
For me, this contrast was just another example of ping] his pills in the sink serves the same purpose as
how Dutcher showed a balanced view of the bright light shining from the briefcase in Pulp
Mormonisma miraculous healing from death, Fiction. So that, after the movie, we will all talk
and the unmiraculously healed death of the healer about what it means.
Richard Hopkins (Apr. 12): [The scene with Family and Art
Dalton dropping his pills in the sink] had me con- Cathy (Gileadi) Wilson (Mar. 26): Last night we
fused . . . until the last time I saw the film (okay, I saw the movie Erin Brockovich. . . . Its got a pretty
admit having seen it a few times now). The context predictable plot situation: the uneducated female
gave me an insight into this action by Dalton. He protagonist who, against all odds, takes down a
has just been asked by the sister to do something huge corporate enemy. But this movie is about more
with his medical knowledge to help Benny. He than that. It raises some significant issues for LDS
cant. He then looks at the pills he is taking and I artists, LDS families generally. . . .
think he feels unworthy to benefit from his medical Heres what I think is important: she finds herself

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in a relationship with a man whos willing to take reached a point where I didnt feel like I knew who
care of her kids while she works. . . . When the I was anymore. Now Im in a period of exploring. I
investigation becomes intense, he finds himself found a community group to play [my flute] in. I
more and more and MORE taking care of kids write a little here and there when I have time. Ive
when shes gone. But the pressure of the situation been reading lots of books about writing different
demands that she continue the investigation, and types of workstrying to figure out what I might
its not a short-term commitment, though of course want to be when I grow up. . . .
not endless. . . . In our culture, and not just our Church culture,
Having lived for almost 25 years with a husband what a woman does in or outside of the home is
who insisted that his work was important and there- expected to take second seat to what a man does
fore I, the wife, should carry the responsibility for at least a married woman. I get so tired of the
the kids, I was struck with the question: how do you derogatory comments about soccer moms and
deal with a persons need to do something impor- housewives who sit around and watch soap operas
tant, when there are kids there needing proper and eat bonbons. Im sure they exist somewhere. I
careand that infers the kind of closeness that just havent managed to meet one yet.
keeps the baby on your hip, not in a plastic carrier Lisa Peck (Mar. 27): For years I struggled with if
or in a playpen for hours? Important work doesnt it was okay if I wrote even though I had kids. Finally
differentiate between genders. . . . How do you bal- I listened to the answer that I got over and over
ance the need for taking care of family and the need [which was] yes. Put first things first though. . . . I
to do a Work? think this helps me keep my perspective so when
Marilyn Brown (Mar. 27): I decided early to the rejections and the criticism comes its easier to
hang in there with the six children. . . . But also handle because I know what is important is family
early on I decided that to do so I would have to last and that is where my greatest energy goes.
eons of time. So I took particularly good care of Sharlee Glenn (Mar. 27): I guess Im just afraid
myself (including saying no to many demands just that by the time my metaphorical autumn arrives,
to preserve my sanity, which I didnt always pre- my leaves will already be dead, dropped, and blown
serve). Now Im 61and feel 20, as though Im just away! Seriously, I can almost feel my brain cells
getting started. Im sad to say Im finally letting the shrinking. And I dont think its in my genes to live
kids take care of the grandchildren. I love them, and for eons as Marilyn plans to do. My maternal
visit, etc., but I am not a babysitting grandmother grandmother died at 73, and my mother only made
because Ive got to get my work done before I die. (Its it to 69. . . .
a nice excuse.) . . . Until I figure this all out, I guess Ill just keep
However, I did enough along the way to keep my doing what Im doing: pouncing on scraps of left-
toes wet. Took classes at the U. Kept dabbling in over time like a half-starved cat, ruining my health
minute increments, published several novels. . . . (and hence my chances to live forever like Marilyn
And yes, I was always frustrated watching Bill do Brown) by writing until two or three in the morn-
what he wanted to do. Even now I have to stand ing, using Lady and the Tramp as a visual tranquiliz-
firm against his demands. Its just our culture. er for my two-year-old when deadlines loom, pray-
Tracie Laulusa (Mar. 27): Im in the middle of ing that Ill still be able to write a coherent sentence
raising seven kidsoldest 16 and youngest 3. I (or have a coherent thought) by the time my kids
wouldnt trade being a mother for anything. Its the are raised!
hardest thing Ive ever done, and Ive learned a lot Darlene Young (Mar. 27): So many women say
being one. But those things are not visible things, to me, Youre so lucky; I wish I could stay home.
sometimes even to my family, only to me. . . . And That fills me with guilt for not relishing this time.
in making some decisions I made some mistakes. I Others say, I couldnt possibly do what youre
gave up more of myself than I needed to and doing. Im a better mother when I have some time

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away to fulfill my other dreams. That is hard to the muse descended or a demon possessed me. Ive
hear, too, because I feel the same way. But I cannot never quite figured out which. Anyway, the timing
farm my kids out to someone else. . . . was awful, but I found myself writing my first book.
I just dont know what to do with these other And now I cant seem to stop. Its a wonderful life,
yearnings in the meantime. How do you women but its a frustrating one as wellone full of con-
writers do it? stant interruptions and competing demands, not to
Richard Johnson (Mar. 27): I have been married mention frequent rejection and disappointment
41 years to the most intelligent, creative woman I and, yes, that ever-present sense of guilt that weve
know, and she was a wonderful mother as well, but talked so much about.
I clearly remember what she gave up to follow my Gustave Flaubert once said: Writing is a dogs
career and raise our children. life, but the only life worth living. Thats how I feel
For many years, as a theatre director/professor, I too.
worked sixty-hour weeks along with serving in Julie Kirk (Mar. 28): I think we all find the
branch/district presidencies and I truly (sexist pig amount of time that we can live with as a balance.
chauvinist) never realized how difficult it was for No matter what we do, there is a sacrifice to be
her until the youngest kids reached school age and made. . . . Painting brings a fullness, an excitement,
she went back to teaching/writing, etc., and turned a vision to me that completes me as a human being.
into a new woman. . . . I promise you that she My husband has said many times that it has been
became a better wife, mother, partner, and person like watching me blossom, become a person he
when she began to be able to stretch. never even knew was there.
Linda Adams (Mar. 27): I . . . doubt the Lord One thing I have found to be the case with my
wants us to give up fundamental pieces of our per- kids as they grow older is that they are proud of
sonality to fit a tight little (cultural) mold of what what I dothey brag to their friends, they show
the ideal Mormon woman is and does. He wants them paintings I have done, and I have found ways
us to be unique and rejoice in our uniqueness. . . . to share that talent with their various bands, 4-H
Is it a great example to your children to have a groups, etc., so in this way I get to be part of their
mother who is frustrated and unfulfilled? Are you activities, share a talent Ive been given, and also do
going to be the best mother you can be that what I love. The other thing I do is bring the kids
way? . . . I can say for myself I became a much more to some of the festivals I work at when I do street
balanced, generally happy woman, wife, and moth- paintings. Its a fun weekend for them, free hotel
er, when I gave myself permission and a little time courtesy of the festival . . . and the nice thing about
to write, than when I tried to stifle it and hold it it is that they get to spend some quality time having
back. fun with their dad, and then I join them in the
Sharlee Glenn (Mar. 28): I think I was actually evenings. . . .
much happier before I started writing seriously. Unlike myself, these are all kids that are growing
Before I became obsessive about writing, I should up to think of the arts as yet another direction they
say. I guess there has never been a time in my adult can seriously consider as a career direction. Good
life that I have not writtena poem here, an essay for them! Not that any or all of them will take that
or article or childrens story there. I managed to direction, but Im glad they see it as something real
publish some little thing or another at least once a and not just a pipe dream.
year, and I was very, very happy with that. I was also Marilyn Brown (Mar. 28): If we have kids, and
very happy dreaming about that far-off time when I they have kids, and they have kids, and nobody
would be able to devote myself wholeheartedly to along the way takes time to live a little, or do some-
writing. thing they really want to doin other words, if kid
Then something happenedright in the middle rearing takes it allthen arent we missing some-
of one of the most hectic periods of my life. Either thing? Procreating for procreating only? There

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ought to be something else along the way. Our drive many hours. This kind of thing is not possible for
includes efforts to help other peoples kids, too, to most mothers, and it certainly has been difficult for
help communities, to help nations. me to manage. . . .
Melissa Proffitt (Mar. 28): There isnt any way to What I have had to do, when it comes to writing
have everything. If youre going to spend three hours (though I do this with other things as well, at
writing each day, thats three hours you cant spend times), is work on what I want to write in my head
anywhere elseon housecleaning or sleep or what- until I get to critical mass and then I let every-
ever. . . . I figure as long as my carpet is vacuumed thing else go while I get what Ive worked on writ-
occasionally, my living room doesnt have to be ten down.
spotless and decorated on a near-professional level Then I go back to the other things I have to do
like my neighbors (its absolutely beautiful, and I (working on whatever is closest to crisis point and
dont know how she keeps it that waythough now then on what is next closest, and so on), all the
that I think about it, there isnt anything of utility in while thinking about what I want to write next.
there except couches, so she doesnt have anyone Marsha Rose (Mar. 29): Ive been on the list for
eating in front of the TV or kids playing with Legos about a year now, and it becomes difficult at times
or things like that). . . . to read mostly only the happy notes of support and
Sometimes I wish I could really put all my time wonderfully working lives. My question then is,
into writing, get the kids farmed out to a babysitter how does one survive and flourish when one is
or something. . . . But that thought causes agoniz- devalued?
ing guiltthe kind that is not merely poison arrows Melissa Proffitt (Mar. 29): This isnt just about
from the Perfect Housewife, but a true warning that finding time to write. This is about pursuing any
Im about to step into something I shouldnt. I cant talent weve been givenpainting, scrapbooking,
sacrifice the things Im responsible for to intently gardening, whateverwhile still fulfilling the
pursue the things I love. responsibilities weve taken on. And yet, somehow,
Bill Willson (Mar. 28): I started my writing jour- no one ever warns about the destructive influence of
ney while I was still working ten hours a day, driv- Too Much Gardening.
ing two and a half hours round trip, serving as a What Im guessing is that creative talents which
counselor to a branch president, and on the local are more utilitarian also seem more respectable. If
nonmember Scout committee. . . . you garden, you (hopefully) end up with vegetables
Now that Im retired and the kids are all raised, I which can be eaten or canned (and if you can them,
still struggle, only not as much. We have phone thats another utilitarian talent so youre doubly
calls, doorbells, people who think, because we are blessed). If you create scrapbooks, youre preserving
retired, that we are dying to have extra things to a history which your children and grandchildren
keep us busy, kids, grandkids, and neighbors who can enjoy. And so forth. So spending any time on
always seem to have a project they want to get us these pursuits seems incredibly productive, hence
involved in. We still like to garden and fish. . . . I no reason to agonize.
just mark off a portion of each day, and make an Productivity . . . thats the big nasty ogre in the
appointment with my muse. . . . closet. You have to be useful. You have to have
I guess what Im trying to say is, we all have to set results.
our own priorities and learn to deal with the things Ardis Parshall (Mar. 30): Mothers of young chil-
which matter most in our lives. Our artistic or liter- dren do have very serious, very time-consuming
ary energy needs to be expressed, but the dishes responsibilities that cannot be ignored until a later
have to be done too. time. When your two-year-old needs attention,
Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury (Mar. 28): I know theres no use trying to do anything else until you
most writers talk about setting aside time each day have attended to his needs. I understand that.
in which they write so many pages or write for so But

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I live alone. In some ways that cuts my dutiesI arent praying, something is terribly amiss. Your
only have one plate to wash after each meal, and I conscience starts to bother you, to remind you that
can leave that plate on the counter for a day or two you are neglecting what is essential. If you ignore
if I have to. But in other ways, I have just as much your conscience long enough, gradually your faith
to do. . . . I not only have to earn a living, but I have dwindles. . . .
to keep house, do laundry, go shopping, pay the If youre a writer, you write. How long can you go
bills, arrange for car repairs, take out the trash, go to without writing before you arent a writer anymore?
the bank, make the doctors appointments, call the And will the gift be withdrawn entirely if you dont
plumber, mow the lawn, shovel the snow, do the tax value it enough to use it? I dont know, but I dont
return, mend the loose hem in my skirt, paint the think you can put it off until the children are grown
bathroom, call my dad to cheer him up, send birth- or your work settles down and feel right about it.
day cards, clean up after the cat, buy glass to fix the When I go even a day or two without writing, I feel
broken window, package the laptop to send off for that same lostness and disconnection. . . .
service, fill out the census form, write to my mis- Diapers have to be changed, children have to be
sionary niece and nephew, arrange travel for that taught, tummies have to be filled, bills have to be
paper Im delivering. I should be attending to all of paid, phone calls have to be made. I dont know
the same Church responsibilities. . . . I publish a how I would do all that without a prayer in my
family newspaper which requires research, writing, heart and a pen in my hand.
typing, printing, and mailing. . . . I also have to fend Thom Duncan (Apr. 3): I tend to look upon
off or fill requests from everybody in town, it seems, writing as a call from the Spirit. Granted it doesnt
who believes that because I dont have a family then come from the bishop but can come from the Spirit
I must have plenty of time, money, and strength to nevertheless. And, just as those called by the
contribute to every imaginable project. Church to positions of leadership must sacrifice
Jonathan Langford (Mar. 31): I think its family time for Church time, I dont feel guilty
notable that although young LDS mothers face doing the same.
challenges in pursuing serious literary endeavors, John Bennion (Apr. 4): My wife and I both write.
still that seems to be a large part of the population I admit that it is difficult to balance time with chil-
whos actually doing it. If Im not mistaken, stay-at- dren and time with the computer, but if I didnt do
home-moms form by far the largest segment of that balancing act, Id be a different person and I
practicingand published!novelists on the list. would write differently. I want to write out of the
So, hard as it may be, its clearly possible. core of my soul and I want that core to represent my
Tryn Paxton (Apr. 2): For me writing is a way of faith and my love of my family. If I pushed every-
life, like prayer. If youre a believer, you pray. If you thing away except for my writing, I couldnt do that.

Summer 2000 74 IRREANTUM

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