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COMPLETE SETS BRIGHT ANGELS 65 FAMILLARS:

Complete sets of Btahgue and SUNSTONE for CONTEMPOEWRY MORMON STORIES


sale.Also o m 8 0 orhiinal nav~~;outllished
letters
edited by Eugene England
of Catherine OoftaG amm my' available. Call
29 e/B8C146Srl. 092 Signature Books, 1992, $19.95, paper, xx + 348 pages
LDS BOOKS BOUGHT & SOLD
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B-H. ROBERTS
A SCRAP BOOK I & I1 Reviewed by Tim Behrend
These~lrcJumesare~lted~5WGopieseach
and there am Only 45 wb M,518 pages and 528
Paw- wUh all materials prevbusly un- T H E 1990s HAVE thus far been a oe- the New Mormon Fietian; Levi Peterson,
a n n p 1 l e d ~ B O per
r rt plus @ tor shipping. riod of continuing fertility for Mormon let- whose slow, wise, Wstem voice dominates
Bnd~ordertodebybZLWFallL81PHER, P.O. BOX
1607, PFlOW),UT 8a80ilb1807. ARWOONFERENCE ters: at least fifteen novels and short story the field; the demt-stnxdr haby boomen
eEWRTs end seQIcf outd-print books also avail- collections (including one anthology) have Michael Fillerup and John h i m ; Linda
able. Send ywr mt IM. Phaner B0+/377-3046 been published in this three-year period, five Sillitoe and Pauline Mortensen, strong
~ 8mT, ~ . 092
of them by presses outside of Utah. At the women in whose narrative and themes the
Adam--Gad by Craig L. Thobn, Most complete same time, dozens of stories have continued
treatment of the Adam--Gqd doctrine to he pub- political and personal tensions inherent in
Itshed in thb dbpsnsatbn. Hard bound, Order to appear in SUNSTONE Dialogue, BWStd- priesthood dominion are .memorably por-
from Publlshmmt, P.O. Box 440507, Aurora, CO ies, and Utah Holiday, and a-new journal trayed; the experimentalist Phyllis Barber;
880044-0507. $a, includes shippihg. 092 dedicated entirely to Mormon literature, the prolific and politically comoiinus Mar-
The Coming of the Hdy.(hneof Isreal, new from Wasatch Review International, has been garet Young; the fantasy superstar Orson
Craig f'holsan. T M shooking new revelationwill launched in Orem, Utah. Criticism, by con-
m& the world of Mcmmnism and Hs traditional Scott Card. Even Judith Freeman and Walter
belief iqsol9 ~ ~ , # w m l r s g pJWO
l d Christ. trast, continues to lag far behind the advanc- Kim are included, though t k are '%for-
Never betore published hkmation. MUST ing edge of Mormon creative wiring. The low mon" writers whose canneaims with the
READING forallLatter-daySaionts. Hard bound. critical profile assumed by Gene England in cultural tradition are far less obvious than
Q r d e r t m Publkhrnent, P a Box 44057, Aurora,
CO 8004.4.0507, $XIincludes shipping. 092 his new anthology of current fiction-Bright their writerly qualifications.
Angels G. Familiars: Contemporary Mormon A list of "Notable Mormon Stories and
Stories-reflects the imbalance between writ- Collections," prepared with the asktance of
ing stories in the Mormon community and Bruce Jorgensen, forms an appendix to the
The Be~hMenewspaper has hundreds af LDS writing about them. collection. It allows quick aecess to part of
s h e s ads fwm, singles In Hle Western United
St- up y@prFREE m p y of the Beehive The collection consists of twenty-two the corpus of recent Mormon fition, but its
today, wcal1-4LDS. 094 short stories, fourteen of which were written usefulness is greatly diminished by its some-
The B&M newspapis, the largest FREE LDS within the past five years and so are truly what haphazird co&truction. hy ~ialogue
newspaper, $ nmi milalab In o w 300 lorn- "Contemporary Mormon Stories" as the title and SUNSTONE listings, for example, are
* n ~ Utah-The whk is a l w a ~
quamd *'espBOPhl and
bOGy
wnnrs'"" w
i: suggests. The remaining eight, dating from as missing, perhaps & c a w they are m t ruffi-
4LDm early as 1963,are included for their historical ciently notable to the compilers. Another in-
or documentary value in contextualizing the convenience is that the st&h mentioned in
more recent fiction. Most of t h ~hniliar the "Nms on Aiq?mrsUrieabn olre NX in-
names are here: the lost generation pioneers cluded in the master k t , sa sea~ehershave tu
Exponent a vdunteer OW"htionl publishes Maureen Whipple and Virginia Soremn; flipback and for& her\~e~:n i n k a d
a quarterly newspaper addressing women's is- the catalytic duo of professors, Don Mar-
sues in an ms For rn yea,8 thb biobluhs whm lookhig up names or ti~les.
s w l essay format has provwd a forum for shall and Doug Thayer, who helped kindle England opens the anthology wirh a brief
women to anchange heir Iik experience in an introduction to the large pattern of Mormon
atmosphereof trusf a d acceptance. Past iswes
have d ~ drug abuse&,
u authority,
~ the so- literary history, and to the contours of its
~~~~n of v ~ u mwomen. and the Mormon TIM BEHREND is a scholar of Javanese contemporary forms, making an ebrtless
mpk. ~ ~ l a ~ w k i by & Jr ~WsDushku, Emma litereturearrmtly a ajcdtural &play & p r o m af his &rwgh hmili..
Lou ThaPe* end U'rU. Editd' by Sue preservation projectsfor the Ford Fouridation in ariiy with all pats and permxilitis af the
Pawman. For a sutrscription, pkasesenda check
for 615.00 694.00 per issue) to:Exponent I/, P.O. Jakarta,lndonesia. tracWoa his examion thmgh the land-
box 128, ~ i l l ~ g t oMA
t i , 021.78 - 099

PAGE 65 NOVEMBER 1993


scape of Mormon literature, however, is con- the nature and quality of their writingw-are mons through the fictive writings of other
ducted on foot: its pedestrian observations of central interest to us as readers (xviii). Mormons, or the special lessons that the
do not show the reader much in the way of Indeed, he explains, the stories of LDS writers Saints might draw from the drama of these
critical or social perspective on the panorama gathered in Bright Angels C Familiars repre- tales, will be less important than their own
of publishing events that it records. sent revelations from a divine source that can personal and aesthetic responses to the sto-
The one intellectual issue that England provide "further understanding" of theologi- ries as narrative artifacts planted in the cul-
pauses over deals with the "special character" cal, moral, social, and psychological issues of tural ground of Mormon society The space
of Mormon literature-how it is Mormon in importance to Mormons. For those readers and energy expended here to argue that lit-
the first place and what difference that makes who might doubt that "these stories [can] be erature is not, after all, bad for us would have
to the reader. He does not build a coherent revelations . . . if they describe doubt, de- been better used for less parochial critical
argument to answer these questions, or even spair, failure, and sin," England recommends purposes. The last thing our community
address them frontally; instead he proffers a looking beyond their narrative surface and needs is more validation for an admonition-
few opinions, much in the manner of a per- into "the shape of the author's own belief and of-Paul style aesthetic of teleology.
sonal essayist, in which he touches lightly on moral vision, which inevitably show through Regarding the stories themselves, Eng-
selected aspects of the issues. to a careful reader" (xix). land has put together a nicely representative,
Most fundamental among England's I recommend looking beyond England's but overly cautious, selection of the short
ideas, particularly as regards the selection of insistence on the edificatory value of this fiction being produced by Mormon writers
stories for this anthology, is his feeling that anthology. For most readers, the hidden today. On the one hand, the compiler's cau-
authors' beliefs-which necessarily "affect truths that God might reveal to some Mor- tion is apparent in several entries-those of

NOVEMBER 1993 PAGE 63


Whipple and Eileen Gibbons Kump in par- by somewhat prudish literary tastes. Since are you and me much more fundamentally
ticular-that draw heavily on the Home Lit- my own predilections run to the dark and than they are Saints and Gentiles.
erature tradition and would not be out of earthy, I would have preferred an editorial Bright Angels G Familiars is a highly read-
place in a collection such as Especially for policy that in no way seeks to further exag- able book, a handy, portable collection of
Monnons or Out of the Best Books. England's gerate the already overly chaste proclivities of current Mormon fiction in which snippets of
justification for including Whipple's folkloric much Mormon fiction. the most important voices in our literary
stov (one of several recently discovered Nevertheless, England has given us a col- discourse can be heard first hand. Since no
pos;humously among her derives lection of well-written stories that speak in story appears here for the first time (for a
from the importance of her 1942 novel The special ways to Mormon readers. In a few half-dozen this is the third outing), its most
GiantJoshua, but this little piece adds noth- cases that communication is deeply cultural, practical contribution lies in presenting a
ing to the luster of her reputation. Both sto- deriving from ecclesiastical or nostalgic sampler of available texts for newly inter-
ries wouldhave been better left out, the more themes in which the chords of Mormon ested readers. Its delimited scope makes it
so since neither is very contemporary church life or the communal Mormon past especially suitable as a gift book, or as a
On the other hand, England's apparently resonate-often colored with an ironic or textbook for the college classroom or local
cautious position has led him to avoid some bemused tone. The parodies of Peterson and reading group.
potentially difficult materials. Technically Neal Chandler offer the most entertaining Eugene England and Signature Books de-
obscure or modernist styles as found in the variations on these themes, though they may serve credit for repeating the service per-
more surrealistic works of John Bennion and also be the least culturally portable stories in formed with the 1989 publication of the
Phyllis Barber, for example, are not included. the collection (excluding Whipple's fairy poetry anthology Harvest: Contemporary
Though this editorial decision makes good tale). Monnon Poems. Once again they have
aesthetic sense to me personally, an anthol- The more serious contributions in this brought together diverse texts and authors,
ogy attempting to represent contemporary category, particularly Barber's "At the Talent making them easily available to the one-stop
literature should have included at least one Show" and Kim's "Whole Other Bodies," pre- literary shopper. For a deeper understanding
example of non-linear or non-traditional sent real characters experiencingsmall family of contemporary Mormon fiction, however,
narrative styles. dramas accessible and relevant to any audi- more serious students will have to await fu-
I also have the nagging sense that vulgar ence. For Mormon readers, though, who ture publications of England and other liter-
language, human intimacy, infidelity, and share personally significant cultural experi- ary critics interested in the tradition.
other moral missteps, as well as characters or ences with the characters in these stories, 23
themes with an "anti-Mormon" bent, may be their potential impact extends beyond the
underrepresented in this collection. What ruminations of a fireside read and back into
originally triggered this feeling was a sense the private memories and interior tectonics Revised second edition:
that my literary tastes seemed to differ radi- of a Mormon childhood and heritage. For Those Who Wonder
cally from the editor's. In nearly every case For me, however, the best stories in Bright
where I was familiar with the published Angels C Familiars are those that begin from Managing Religious
works of an author anthologized in Bright Mormon premises, but then transcend them, Questions and Doubts
Angels 6 Familiars, I disagreed with Eng- or make them incidental, in the creation and by D. Jeff Burton
Foreword by Lowell L. Bennion
land's selection. This applied particularly for movement of characters transposed by expe-
Peterson, Sillitoe, Mortensen, Fillerup, Free- riences of universal import. The interior Includes two new essays: Developing a
man, Barber, and Kim. The only selection I struggles, the imperfect relationships, the Church-compatible Model for Living
fully agreed with was John Bennion's "Dust," spoiled expectations, the sad realizations that and How to Manage
which is the most technically and conceptu- make up much the more significant part of the Loss of Belief, plus
ally challenging story in the book. life are here explored through characters who The Phenomenon of
While mulling over this odd lack of con- are first and foremost familiar because they the Closet Doubter,
How to Help Others
vergence in our opinions, it struck me that are human. That they are close to us in their with Religious
for many authors the story that would have styles of worship, the patterns of their social Questions and
been mv first choice had elements of lan- organization, or the demands of their Sunday Doubts, and
guage or subject matter that might have been obligations, makes them more recognizable Self-assessment
judged potentially offensive to some LDS on the first page, and creates greater sympa- of Personal Beliefs.
readers. 1 began to wonder: Could it be that thy and interest on our part-both for the ISBN 0-%23160-4-0. About $7.
Gene England had chosen to target this sen- characters and their creators. Once the tale is Available at all LDS Bookstores
sitive audience? Had he deliberately served in motion, however, the external details of Brand new:
up a somewhat bowdlerized, PG-rated ver- Momon affiliation recede in importance.
sion of contemporary Mormon fiction cater- The narrative architecture of the best of these Progression:The Afterlife
ing to this group? The introduction, with its stories is founded on the solid humanity of by D. Jeff Burton
description of divinity conducting revelatory their characters; the ecclesiastical drapery in
work in part through fiction and its promise which they are wrapped becomes secondary Tongue-in-cheek exploration of
Mormon afterlife folklore and its
of edificationor instruction to Mormons who Marshall's "The Week-end," Mortensen's impact on today's men and women.
read this collection with sufficient care, does "Woman Talking to a Cow," and Sibyl Send $6 to:
nothing to undermine the suspicion that his Johnston's "Iris Holmes" are among the more IVEPress, Inc.,
editorial choices might be undersprung with exceptional selections because of their 1 2974 So. 900 E.. Bntfl. UT 84010 11
a conservative "moral" agenda, or at the least deeply humanist portraits of characters who

PAGE 64 NOVEMBER 1993