This Week in Mormon Literature, June 17, 2011

The Book of Mormon musical wins 9 Tony Awards, and Jared Farmer, the Washington Post On Faith Forum, and Jerry Johnson talk about mixing religion and humor. Sunstone and Irreantum have new issues coming out, and bloggers talk about the Deseret Books Bookshelf app and BH Roberts’ pioneering novel Corianton: A Nephite Story. Please send any suggestions or announcements to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

The Book of Mormon musical

Everyone knows by now that the musical won a bushel of Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and have probably seen the clip of the song “I Believe” from the television broadcast. Here are a few recent articles.

Jared Farmer, “Why The Book of Mormon (the musical) is Awesomely Lame”.  I highly recommend this review, which appeared in Religion Dispatches. Farmer’s article is discussed by Christopher at The Juvenile Instructor

‘Book of Mormon’ musical: Humorous Hazing or Modern Minstrel Show? National faith leaders consider impact (Deseret News). Summarizes the Washington Post “On Faith” forum, titled “Is Faith Funny?”, where 12 authors discussed the musical, and the nexus of religion and humor.

Cashing in on Popularity for the Money (Jerry Johnson, Mormon Times).  Although I find his tone dismissive, Johnson does make an interesting point about a Broadway trend that The Book of Mormon is a part of. Difficult adult-themed musicals have not done well (The Capeman and recent Sondheim, for example), while old-fashioned musicals with catchy tunes are often of the Disney variety, making it hard for adults to feel adult. Starting with Avenue Q and Jersey Boys, creators have been mixing catchy tunes and easy-to-digest lyrics with profane adult content, and winning huge audiences.

Joanna Brooks says we should not be ashamed of the idiosyncratic doctrines that the musical mocks, at Religion Dispatches.

Posts and Podcasts

A lively discussion about the merits, demerits, and motives behind the Deseret Book Bookshelf App, led by Kent Larson, at A Motley Vision.

Roadshows and the rising legitimacy of the theatre. Aaron R at By Common Consent talks about Mormon approaches to theater from the Nauvoo period to the present, criticizing concepts discussed in Terryl Givens’ book People of Paradox.

Podcasts: At Writing Excuses, the gang starts their 6th season by welcoming new co-host Mary Robinette Kowal, the first non-Mormon member of the group, and they talk about the question Can Creativity be Taught and the problem of Internal Motivations.  Meanwhile, over at The Appendix the hosts talk about enhanced ebooks and dystopian fiction.

At Gamilia’s Review, speculative fiction author Joseph Vasicek writes about Mormons and Science Fiction.

Orson Scott Card takes part in a forum of authors talking about what SF/F authors should be considered for a Novel Prize in Literature? Card nominates Ray Bradbury, with Harlan Ellison as runner-up.

New Books

The Only Way to Paradise, by G. G. Vandagriff. Orson Whitney Press. Women’s fiction. First of a new series, The Crazy Ladies of Oakwood. Four women travel to Florence, try to make sense of their failing group therapy.  

I am Peter by Arnold Grundvig. Cedar Fort. Historical Fiction. New Testament Peter and Jesus. First novel, by a software engineer/motivational speaker.

The Misadventures of Phillip Isaac Penn, by Donna L. Peterson. Cedar Fort. Middle grade/early reader fiction. It is Peterson’s first long-form book.  

Cayman Summer, by Angel Morrison. Self-published, YA romance. Third in the Taken by Storm trilogy.


What Do You Get When an Aztec Crosses the Train Tracks?: A Review of B. H. Roberts’s “Corianton, a Nephite Story”. Scott Hales, The Low-Tech World.  Scott is out-doing himself these days with funny, insightful reviews of Mormon literature.

The Year of the Boar, by Anneke Majors. Laura Craner, A Motley Vision. “Occasionally, the book stumbles. Some characters appear and are lost too quickly in the revolutions of the zodiac calendar, making their backstories hard to hold on to . . . But overall the book is ambitious and heartfelt. Sister Majors’ love for Asian cultures and peoples, her love for the gospel, and her own personal optimism make The Year of the Boar an enjoyable read. Full of interesting historical tidbits about Japan and China, and small period vignettes in Texas and France and even Algeria, this is an ideal book for book clubs and summer reading. It is, as the author insists, very real. And very good.”

Foggy With a Chance of Murder, by G. G. Vandagriff. Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine. “Heartbreaking . . . Fog plays a major role in the story as it provides cover for would-be assassins and hides attempts to rescue or to follow.  Fog also seemed to enshroud me as I tried to figure out why the sister was so severely traumatized by an infraction for which she was far less culpable than for her more recent negligence which resulted in the death of her nephew . . . The whole terrorists issue feels remote as though seen through the fog . . .  [Vandagriff] writes in an old world dreamy, moralistic style reminiscent of the early Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt era of romantic mysteries.  She also pays more attention to ambience and background than is usual in most modern novels.”

The Perfect Fit, by Michele Ashman Bell.  Deseret News, favorable.

Sean Griswold’s Head, by Lindsey Leavitt. Bloggin’ ‘bout Books.  B. “It is one of those issue novels that doesn’t necessarily feel like an issue novel. It’s about an issue, yes, and a serious one, but it manages to stay upbeat and funny while still addressing a teen’s very real feelings about her dad’s illness. It avoids cheesy melodrama, dealing with Payton’s emotions in a way that remains authentic and true.”

Einstein’s Trunk, by James Haberkorn. Reviewed by Allison McKenzie, AML‏. Unfavorable. “This book did not easily keep my attention and I was uninterested until about the last 75 pages . . . If someone is looking for a light read, this book might be satisfying. If someone is looking for any type of depth, Einstein-type enlightenment, philosophical concepts, and/or a thriller to connect pieces, this is not the book to read.”

The Only Way to Paradise, by G. G. Vandagriff. Reviewed by Heather Moore, at LDS Readers.  

Balance, by Jean Stringham. Reviewed by Gabi Kupitz, AML. “Recommended not only for middle school readers, but anyone who struggles with self and family dynamics—pretty much everyone!”

Magazines and Short Stories

Sunstone magazine #163 (June 2011) is now available.   It includes a short story by Larry Menlove (“A Season in the Wilderness”), an essay by Kenny Kemp about returning to his old mission field (“The Returning Missionary”), an essay by Lisa Torcasso Downing (“The Saga of Beef Gone Bad”), a cluster of essays about stay-at-home dads, and graphic retellings of Alma by Janette Atwood and Stephen Carter and the First Vision by Noah Van Sciver. I downloaded it for the first time on my iPhone.  Very convienent, but small, but I will probably wait until I get an iPad to really enjoy sitting down and reading it.

Emily Mah,“The River People”. Published in the fantasy journal Black Gate #15.  The Spring 2011 issue has the theme of warrior women. Emily Mah Tippetts writes speculative fiction under her Mah name and LDS chic lit under the name E. M. Tippets.

The Spring/Summer issue of Irreantum is currently at the printer, so update your subscriptions now. It will include short stories by Karen Rosenbaum, Josh Allen, and Courntey Miller Santo, as well as many critical essays, creative nonfiction, poems, and reviews. 


Excel Entertainment is doing a free screening of the film Unitards at Salt Lake Library (Main Branch) in the Nancy Tessman Auditorium, Thursday, June 16 · 6:30pm – 9:30pm. They have acquired the film, and are screening it to do marketing research. The film was written and directed by Mormon filmmaker Scott Featherstone, and includes Michael Buster (God’s Army, Out of Step) in the cast. It is a comedy about three odd-ball high school seniors who are charged with the task of instilling school spirit back into their high school. They devise a plan to create an all-men’s dance team comprised of misfits and losers and call themselves Unitards.

17 Miracles continues to expand in its third week, going into 20 theaters, including Nevada and Arizona.


New York Times Bestseller lists, June 19th    

Trade Fiction Paperback

#20 HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, by Jamie Ford (54th  week) ↔. Stays pat.  

Mass Market Paperback

THE WAY OF KINGS, by Brandon Sanderson, fell off the list after one week.

SAVAGE NATURE, by Christine Feehan, fell off the list after four weeks.

ONE MAGIC MOMENT, by Lynn Kurland.  Fell off the list after three weeks. 

Children’s Chapter Books

#6 THE TWILIGHT SAGA: THE OFFICIAL ILLUSTRATED GUIDE, by Stephanie Meyer (8th week). ↑ Up from #7.

Children’s Paperback

#10 THE MAZE RUNNER, by James Dashner (15th week). ↑ The book is back on the list for the first time since February.


Deseret Book LDS Fiction Bestsellers this week

1 Shadows of Brierley, Vol. 2: A Far Horizon, by Anita Stansfield  ↔

2 The Evolution of Thomas Hall by Kieth Merrill  ↑

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

4 Shades of Gray by Rachel Ann Nunes   ↓

5 Foggy with a Chance of Murder by G. G. Vandagriff  ↔

6 The Butterfly Box, Vol. 3: The Perfect Fit by Michele Ashman Bell  ↔

7 The Great and Terrible Six-Volume Set by Chris Stewart ↔

8 Attack the Lusitania! by Jerry Borrowman  ↔

9  Messiah: A Novel by Toni Sorenson

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

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One Response to This Week in Mormon Literature, June 17, 2011

  1. Th. says:


    Ugh. You know what? Ellison does have a shot at the Nobel though, but for all the reasons I can’t stand him.

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