This Week in Mormon Literature, April 15, 2011

Nephi Anderson is back on people’s minds, a literary reminder of some regrettable Mormon racial ideas in the 1950s, and three new books are reviewed in Kirkus Reviews. Please send any suggestions or announcements to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

Articles

Correct Me If I’m Wrong: A Review of Ally Condie’s “Matched” (and a Certain Kind of Mormon Criticism). Scott Hales, The Low-Tech World. A positive review of Matched, then a criticism of literary critics who try to find evidence of Mormon themes in Mormon-authored works, without bothering to significantly understand Mormonism.

Mormon Expression Podcast: Book Club, “Added Upon”. Three panel members discuss the popular 1898 Nephi Anderson novel Added Upon.  An interesting discussion of how the book reflects changing Mormon beliefs about romance and marriage at the time. Although they have plenty of criticisms, the panel is surprisingly positive about the book, especially about the science fiction-like closing section set in the Millennium. Note that Mormon Expression is a podcast run by former or at least disaffected Mormons.  The panels, however, often include active believing Mormons, and while the tone of the podcasts are sometimes critical, they are rarely if ever hostile towards Mormonism.

This comes the same week Theric Jepsen suggests Nephi Anderson’s 1921 novel Dorian should have been included in The Best Books for LDS Homes set.   “It is, in my opinion, Jane Austen good. I’m convinced that anyone who loved these eight books will love Dorian. Here’s my Deseret Book-friendly pitch: It’s less upsetting than Jane Eyre! It’s less violent than The Scarlet Pimpernel! It’s hero is as good as Mr Bingley and mentored by a more spiritual Matthew Cuthbert! It’s really nice!

And, while on the topic of Theric, he outlined the history and future of his imprint Peculiar Pages here at the Publishers Corner section of Dawning of a Brighter Day.

Mormon young adult fiction: Preserving Racial Purity edition! Good Reason blog, by Daniel Midgley.  The author discusses racism in a 1956 didactic Mormon novel, Choose Ye This Day, by Emma Marr Petersen. Petersen was the wife of Apostle Mark E. Petersen.  She writes a scene where a Mormon university student explains to his friends the then commonly held Mormon view of the correct place of Negroes in society, and the importance of maintaining social separation. The blog author is a former Mormon, antagonistic towards the faith, so I am wary about giving it a link.  But I had never heard of this book before, and I think the long passage the blogger quotes is (depressingly) fascinating.

Michael Otterson, the Head of Public Affairs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, blogs “Why I won’t be seeing the Book of Mormon musical” at the Washington Post.

BYU Universe article on issue #61, the Leading Edge’s 30th anniversary issue.  The issue features a story by Dave Wolverton, called “We Blaze”.

The 2010 AML Award citations are now available for reading.

BYU Students win another animation student Emmy for “DreamGiver”.  These awards have almost become routine.

Trist Pinkston reports and posts pictures on the Write Here in Ephraim event.

Writing Excuses podcast 5:31—Writing Romance.  Sarah Eden and Robinson Wells join Dan and Howard at LTUE to talk about writing romance.

Writing Excuses podcast 5:32—Urban Fantasy. Dan Wells and the rest of the gang.

Ben Crowder’s Mormon Artist magazine is featured in the BYU Universe.

New Books

My Unfair Godmother, by Janette Rallison. Walker Books for Young Readers. YA humorous fantasy. Sequel to My Fair Godmother.  Troubled girl gets a godmother, becomes part of the Robin Hood and Rumpelstiltskin stories.

Miles to Go: The Second Journal of the Walk Series, by Richard Paul Evans. Simon & Schuster. Inspirational. Second in a five book series. An adman seeking redemption, walks around the country, touching lives. Second chances and foster care problems.

Captive Heart, by Michele Paige Holmes. Covenant. Historical romance. A 19th century Black Hills outlaw kidnaps and brings back to South Dakota an Eastern teacher to work in his frontier town, romance ensues.

Short Stories

Orson Scott Card’s Intergalatic Medicine Show is print and on-line speculative fiction magazine published by Orson Scott Card. Issue 22, April 2011, contains a story by a Mormon author, Exiles of Eden, by Brad R. Torgersen.

Reviews

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner. Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books.  B-. “An intense, action-paced thrill ride that just doesn’t stop. Ever.  . . . I almost didn’t realize how little the overall plot advances . . . which left me a mite disappointed in a novel I otherwise really enjoyed.”

Imprints, by Rachel Ann Nunes. Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books. C.  “Nunes’ hippie chick medium insufferable, but intriguing . . . Although I didn’t like Imprints as much as I wanted to, I did like it a lot more than I expected to.”

Blink of an Eye, by Gregg Luke.  Shelah, Shelah Books It.  Unfavorable. “I know Luke has the chops to write a good thriller, but this time . . . it felt like the action never really got off the ground.”

Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me, by Kristen Chandler. Shelah, Shelah Books It. Very favorable. “It was easily my favorite of the 18 [Whitney finalist] books I read and I hope it sweeps all of the categories in which it’s eligible.”

Faith Behind the Fences, by Kelly Dispirito Taylor. Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine. Favorable review of a biography/fiction fusion about a woman’s experiences in a Japanese concentration camp on Sumatra during World War II.

The List, by Melanie Jacobson. Kathy, Book Worm Nation. 4 out of 5.

Variant, by Robinson Wells. Kirkus Reviews. Favorable. “Hard to put down from the very first page, this fast-paced novel with Stepford overtones answers only some of the questions it poses, holding some of the most tantalizing open for the next installment in a series that is anything but ordinary.”

Blackberry Crumble, by Josi K. Kilpack. Sharon Haddock, Mormon Times.  Favorable.

Wrong Number, by Rachelle J. Christensen. Mindy, LDSWBR. 4 out of 5 stars.

My Unfair Godmother, by Janette Rallison. Kirkus Reviews, positive.  “Rallison’s pull-out-all-the-stops latest strains reader credulity (again!), but it’s so determined to be likable and warmhearted and press all the right buttons that readers will surely be rooting for Chrissy and Tansy anyway.”

My Unfair Godmother, by Janette Rallison. VOYA, positive. “The mixture of fantasy and reality should not work, but Rallison makes the unbelievable work right alongside the contemporary problems, creating a fast-paced, humorous, and entertaining story.”

My Unfair Godmother, by Janette Rallison. Kathy, Book Worm Nation. 5 out of 5.

Miles to Go, by Richard Paul Evans. Kirkus Reviews, mildly positive. “This leg of the Walk series is brisker and, thankfully, less didactic than the last.”

Magazines

Provo Orem Word.  April 2011, Issue No. 15. Includes “What’s For Lunch”, a short-short story by Bruce Jorgensen, a poem by Michael Bourn, the final installment of “Rough Stone, Rolling Watters,” Marden Clark’s epic poem investigating the life of Joseph Smith, and a review of Eric Samuelsen’s play, “The Plan”, by Shelly Graham.

Theater

A detailed review of Eric Samuelsen’s The Plan, at the Utah Theater Bloggers Association.  His other play, Boarderlands, completes its extended run at the Rose Wagner Theater on April 17.

Bestsellers

New York Times Bestseller lists, April 10th

Trade Fiction Paperback

#9. HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, by Jamie Ford (45th week). ↔  Up one spot on the paperback list.  Fell of the Combined Hardcover and Paperback Fiction list.

Children’s Chapter Books

#1.  A WORLD WITHOUT HEROES, by Brandon Mull (2nd week). ↑ Back up to #1 after a week at #2.

#10. MATCHED, by Ally Condie (15th week). ↑ Back on the list after missing last week.

Children’s Series:

#10 THE TWILIGHT SAGA, by Stephanie Meyer (190th). ↑ Back on the list after missing a week, I knew she would be back.

Deseret Book LDS Fiction Bestsellers this week

1 Blackberry Crumbleby Josi S. Kilpack

2 Shadows of Brierley, Vol. 1: The Wanderer by Anita Stansfield

3 The Silence of God by Gale Sears

4 The Great and Terrible Six-Volume Set by Chris Stewart

5 Vengeance by Clair M. Poulson

6 The Walk, Book 2: Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans NEW

7 The List by Melanie Jacobson NEW

8 Captive Heart by Michele Paige Holmes NEW

9 Mark of Royalty by Stephonie K. Williams, Jennifer K. Clark

10 Shadows of Brierley, Vol. 2: A Far Horizon by Anita Stansfield NEW

11 The Undaunted: The Miracle of the Hole-in-the-Rock Pioneers by Gerald N. Lund

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3 Responses to This Week in Mormon Literature, April 15, 2011

  1. Th. says:

    .

    Wow…. I’m glad you linked to the excerpt from Petersen’s book, but wow. Disturbing. That it could have been so casual as to appear in a place like this and with so many details. I heard this theory when I was younger of course, but not with so many . . . details.

  2. Scott Hales says:

    First of all, Andrew, thanks for always including my stuff on here. I appreciate it a lot. (Although, one small objection, my last name is Hales…not Hatch. My sister married a Hatch, though, so you’re kind of in the right ballpark)

    I did some looking around, and apparently Emma Marr Petersen wrote several books, mostly for primary-aged readers. A couple of them look vaguely familiar from my childhood days–books I’d see on shelves at church or at my grandparents’ house.

    I also found that you can borrow a digital copy of Choose Ye This Day from openlibrary.org. Here’s the link for interested parties:

    http://openlibrary.org/works/OL15549673W/Choose_ye_this_day

    I’m interested in reading it myself, but I’ve got stacks of other books to read right now. I’d like to see some additional thoughts on the book. If someone would like to guest review it for me on “The Low-Tech World,” let me know. I wonder if anything else is lurking in Sister Petersen’s novel.

    I also remember hearing about this disturbing doctrine in my childhood, but always from people who were repudiating it, not advocating it. Of course, I also grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, after the teaching became an embarrassment. In his journal, my great-great-great grandfather articulates the pre-mortal theory about “Negroes” in much the same way Hank does in “Choose Ye This Day.”

    Here’s an interesting interview with Elder Holland in which he discusses the issue:

    http://www.pbs.org/mormons/interviews/holland.html

    This quote from the interview seems relevant:
    “We don’t pretend that something wasn’t taught or practice wasn’t pursued for whatever reason. But I think we can be unequivocal and we can be declarative in our current literature, in books that we reproduce, in teachings that go forward, whatever, that from this time forward, from 1978 forward, we can make sure that nothing of that is declared. That may be where we still need to make sure that we’re absolutely dutiful, that we put [a] careful eye of scrutiny on anything from earlier writings and teachings, just [to] make sure that that’s not perpetuated in the present. That’s the least, I think, of our current responsibilities on that topic. …”

    • Andrew Hall says:

      Thanks for the great Elder Holland quote, few people put things better than he does. I like that he says our responsibility to “put a careful eye of scrutiny on anything from earlier writings and teachings” rather than trying to forget they ever happened.
      And sorry about your name, it looks like one of the administrators went in and corrected it. Things like that happen a lot when I post after midnight. The holy internal editor goes to bed along with the Holy Ghost.

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