Category Archives: The Populist’s Soapbox

Mormon Enough? I’m Relieved to Discover…

I believe the tendency to reduce and exclude, to narrow definitions to simple, direct memes has its uses. In criticizing literature by Mormons or for Mormon audiences, Mormon critics must necessarily categorize and differentiate which shelves should carry which stories. Readers deserve to know.

But I think we do ourselves a disservice if we dismiss as irrelevant those works by self-described Mormon authors that are not told in culturally Mormon forms and terms. Because it is precisely these subconsciously Mormon tales that can reveal deep Mormonism to those audiences most capable of understanding those themes. Not better than more overt tales, but just as deserving of our thoughtful criticism. It would be a shame to institutionally dismiss what could be some of our most deeply Mormon works because that Mormonness was not obvious enough. Continue reading

Posted in Community Voices, General, Mormon LitCrit, SF&F corner, The Populist's Soapbox | 4 Comments

Reading Resolutions

As soon as the calendar changed to December 31st, posts began appearing in my Facebook and blog feeds from friends detailing their reading for 2013. Some had set goals to read a certain number of pages; others had set goals … Continue reading

Posted in Announcements, Community Voices, The Populist's Soapbox | 3 Comments

Time for Whitney Nominations!

So, you’ve complained about previous years’ Whitney Awards? The book you liked didn’t even make it to finalist status? Well, now is the time to help correct that! ’Tis the season — anytime between now and Dec. 31 of this … Continue reading

Posted in Announcements, Community Voices, The Populist's Soapbox | Tagged | 10 Comments

When Good Report Fails

I’ve always been a big fan of the last line of the thirteenth Article of Faith — “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” So lists, reviews, and recommendations are … Continue reading

Posted in Community Voices, On-screen, The Populist's Soapbox | 4 Comments

Searching for a Markus Zusak of Our Own

Today over at Motley Vision, William posted an excerpt from an Ensign article about LDS literature published in 1981 by Richard Cracroft. This sentence in particular caught my eye: Many of the sweetest messages of life are subtle, and the … Continue reading

Posted in Mormon LitCrit, The Populist's Soapbox | Tagged , | 25 Comments

Whitney Finalists 2012: Initial Thoughts

In case you haven’t heard, the finalists for the 2012 Whitney Awards were announced last Friday. Over at Segullah, Emily has already posted some of her thoughts about the finalists, so I thought I’d post a few of my initial … Continue reading

Posted in Mormon LitCrit, The Populist's Soapbox | Tagged | 18 Comments

All Those Books I Haven’t Read

It’s that time of year again: ‘best books of 2012’ lists are popping up on every blog, website, magazine, and newspaper I read. December, January, and February are months for reflections, compilations and awards, and yet for me they often … Continue reading

Posted in The Populist's Soapbox | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Windmill Variations: In Defense of Message-Driven Fiction

I suspect inopportune literalism is the primary limiting factor in my confusion as to why good fiction must not, dare not, shall not contain a message. I read the books that others tell me are “good” and I see messages aplenty, and more often than not I see aggressive arguments for particular viewpoints. Scout may pretend to be unformed and open-minded, but “To Kill A Mockingbird” leaves no doubts about what the author believes are better (and lesser) moral conclusions through her voice. Continue reading

Posted in Community Voices, Storytelling and Community, The Populist's Soapbox, The Writer's Desk | Tagged | 3 Comments

Is Contemporary Literary Fiction any Fun?

I try to read a lot of contemporary literary fiction. Students in my creative writing classes know why. How, I often ask them, do you plan to enter a literary conversation if you haven’t been paying attention to that conversation? … Continue reading

Posted in The Populist's Soapbox | Tagged | 13 Comments

Fantasy and Reality

Tracy Hickman, a writer I greatly admire, wrote an interesting blog the other day about the new TV series Once Upon a Time. He gave a brief synopsis of the story that went like this: “It is about an Evil … Continue reading

Posted in The Populist's Soapbox | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments