This Month in Mormon Literature, Late September 2014

Be sure to read the discussion about the future of the Association for Mormon Letters in Theric’s Accountability to the little guy post at this blog. This month features: The 2014 League of Utah Writers awards and the Salt Lake City Weekly Artys awards were presented. The Maze Runner, based on author James Dashner’s YA novel, opened to much better box office and somewhat better reviews than Ender’s Game last year. The book is also at the top of the bestseller lists. Publishers Weekly focused on the efforts of Rick Walton as a key part of the success of Utah authors in the children/YA markets, and gave starred reviews to Julie Berry’s middle grade Victorian comic mystery and Craig Harline’s missionary memoir. An update on the plagiarism case. A call for papers from LTUE. New novels from several national YA authors. Two upcoming Mormon movies. And a Robert Lauer/Sam Cardon historical musical opened in St. George. Please send news and corrections to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.


Salt Lake City Weekly Artys awards

Salt City Strangers

BEST COMIC BOOK: Salt City Strangers. Would you believe … the intercontinental railroad was part of a demonic plan to engulf the planet in evil once the final Golden Spike was driven at Promontory Point? Fortunately, a group of heroes called the Salt City Strangers foiled the plot and have fought to keep Utah safe ever since. Chris Hoffman’s sharply detailed comic is steeped in local LDS culture (Deputy Deseret slings Porter Rockwell’s guns; Son of Bigfoot was discovered in Provo Canyon and raised Mormon; and then there’s the Gull), but Salt City Strangers—now two issues in—is ultimately a classic story of Good vs. Evil. If there’s anything Utahns love, it’s a tall tale about the righteous taking on the wrong-teous. Continue reading

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in verse #45 : The Power of the Editor

The text of his letter from Liberty Jail was published in Joseph Smith’s lifetime, in Times and Seasons in May and July of 1840, of which Joseph was nominally editor (this was the last transcription Joseph could have overseen). It was also published in the Deseret News and the Millenial Star, about the time it was being edited and excerpted for publication in Doctrine and Covenants in 1876. The latter editorial process interests me most in regards to Section 121, which consists of five excerpts from widely-separated parts of the letter. Sections 122 and 123 are single, coherent excerpts, not the mosaic that 121 is.

The letter begins in what one commentary calls “a high scriptural style,”[i] but it is worth noting that Joseph undercuts that immediately with sarcasm: Continue reading

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Accountability to the little guy


This blog was down for several days this month because someone forgot to pay for the domain name or hosting or something rudimentary like that.

The accompanying website has been down for a long time for reasons unclarified.

I suspect that with the demise of Irreantum, membership in the Association for Mormon Letters is at a low, low ebb. If so, the number of people who have standing to demand that the AML organization respond to them are dwindling few.

Me, I paid up for a lifetime membership, so I definitely have standing, but who can I talk to about any of these things?

The president’s far away in Hawaii and Jonathan manages this blog, but other than that, I know nothing other than that Jonathan had to contact some mysterious other person to get things running again.

About a year before Irreantum died, there was some asking from the then-current editors for help, but since then I can’t recall hearing anything from anyone about what’s needed. Maybe it’s because I can’t get to the annual meeting. I don’t know. What I do know is that this blog seems to be the only way I get news, but it’s written by members and friends of the AML—not leaders thereof.

Who’s accountable? If I want to help or I want to complain or I want to be part of the solution or I just want any sense of anything, where do I go?

I’m not looking for someone to crucify; I just have no idea what’s going on.

What is the AML anyway, and who runs it?

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Enid vs. The Real vs. The Not Real

I’ve been doing more cartooning (and teaching) than criticism lately, so I haven’t had much time to come up with new posts for this blog. But since Dawning of a Brighter Day up and running again, after several days’ rest no doubt, I decided I owe it something.

Below is one of my latest Enid comics–the second that deals specifically with Mormons and fiction. (The first appeared on this blog “pseudo-anonymously” several months ago.) In it, Enid tries to explain why members in her ward are “uncomfortable” with fiction, ultimately tying it in to ways Mormons–in America, at least–seek for truth.

What are your thoughts?

NOTE: I should say that I post this not to reopen the science fiction vs. realism debates, but to maybe invite new insights into the evolving role of fiction in Mormon society. Also, I also want to say that Enid’s grouping of science fiction with escapist literature is not to suggest that it is escapist, but rather that it often perceived and treated as such by readers seeking a reprieve from the daily grind of life.


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Complexity in the Children’s Literature Corner

Once I wandered into a stone courtyard where a beautiful and abstract marble sculpture turned on a pedestal. Two white benches formed a right angle facing the piece, and a columned loggia on the far side showed a lawn bordered by tall cypress trees in the distance. I stood and watched the sculpture for a few minutes, feeling somewhat disturbed by the speed of the turning base. It wasn’t going fast enough to make me dizzy, but it was moving too rapidly for me to really grasp the shape of the work in my mind. One rounded knob on top seemed to evolve from the graceful loop at the top of a treble clef into a whorled groove like the soft curve of a conch shell. Then, before I could put the whole shape together in my mind a jutting, angular facet spun into view and the previous smoothness I thought I saw was lost. It was very disconcerting. Continue reading

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YA Corner: Reading by Moonlight

My friend has a freshly painted periwinkle blue home. It is a striking change of color after 20+ years of being a pleasant light tan. One of her teenaged sons had a “Eureka!” moment and felt an urgent sense to paint the exterior walls blue. To be sure, he may have caught some of his inspiration from his mother who had recently dipped brushes in several paint cans to beautify the bedrooms and bathrooms. At any rate, it was only a matter of days before the thought became a reality. In addition to the tall planks of periwinkle, there is now a front porch painted a deep red. And front steps painted alternating colors of the red and blue. The home looks charming and welcoming — perfectly matching the warmth of the delightful people who live inside. I say live “inside” the home but now with an eye-popping large front porch, it is as if there is a whole new outdoor room to claim as living space. In fact, the family now regularly spends evening time reading out on the porch. They bundle up in blankets if the evening is cool and unwind with conversation and books.

In less than a week this family will have one more thing to enjoy about their outdoor room: a Harvest Moon in the night sky. I am not a great whiz at astronomy, but that never stopped my enjoyment and wonder at the time of Harvest Moon. September 8-9 is the designated Harvest Moon night when a full moon is closest to the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. I tend to feel that the Harvest moon is bigger, brighter and more colorful than other full moons, and there are songs (who really can resist the Neil Young tune?), stories, and some scientific facts to back me up.

Continue reading

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This Month in Mormon Literature, Early September 2014

Rachel Ann Nunes has filed a complaint in federal court against a Utah teacher, accusing her of plagiarizing one of Nunes’ books and then harassing Nunes after she was caught. Salt Lake Comic Con is going on, with lots of Mormon authors participating. No Mormons won Hugo awards. I caught up with the several books published by Mormon authors at Xchyler Publishing. Saints and Soldiers: The Void opened nationally. There is a fascinating review of the career of animator Don Bluth. National novels arrived from James Dashner, Shannon Hale, Jolene Perry, and Courtney Miller Santo.

News and blog posts

Rachel Ann Nunes’ lawyers have filed the complaint in federal court over the plagiarism of their book. John Dopp reports that the suspect, a Utah schoolteacher, “has been served with a summons to appear in Federal court on complaints of copyright infringement, defamation, false light, injurious falsehood, harassment, false advertising, and deceptive trade practices. If the suit is successful, she faces statutory damages of $150,000.00, plus damages for each sale of the infringing work, damages to compensate for the other allegations in the complaint, and attorney’s fees.” Although the suspect has been named, Nunes says “I make a plea for my supporters to refrain from bullying, name-calling, or attacking the defendant online.” Continue reading

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in verse #44 : The Poet Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith was imprisoned in the jail at Liberty, Missouri — across the Missouri River from the equally ironically-named Independence — from 1 December 1838 through 6 April 1839, along with five others: Caleb Baldwin, Alexander McRae, Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith and Lyman Wight.[i]  During that time he received visitors, including members of his family, and corresponded with members of the Church, personally and officially.  He was treated more generously in Liberty Jail than he had been in the Richmond County courthouse, but it was still imprisonment, and he was still penned with 6 adult men into a basement roughly 14 feet square, while awaiting trial.

“Liberty Jail” has become for Mormons the equivalent of a Zen koan Continue reading

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Nelda Booras


Nelda Booras passed away August 13, 2014 in Oakland, California, at 96 years old. If you, like me, did not know until Karen Rosenbaum told you that she “was an accomplished and galleried artist,” now you do.

Sister Booras does not seem to have left much trace online (she was, after all, 76 when Netscape appeared on the scene), but here’s a little something:



If you knew Nelda Booras or were acquainted with her work, I would love to know more about.

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In Tents #44 He is Risen and Other Texts That Don’t Behave as Textual Critics Think They Do Part V

We could never know the source–not us–
Of those noises all, your third-grade teacher said,
That she had never heard before–and some
She’d never imagined possible.
–Marden J. Clark, “Some Couth”

Dennis was long out of third grade by the time his youngest brother was born, indeed was out of school that year with rheumatic fever, so he babysat a lot and had a lot of time to teach me all those joyous mouth sounds–to pass on his delight of odd noise, so that when I came across two delightful noises in American Literature: The Makers and the Making, I held them in my mouth.

One is Ezra Pound’s description in Canto LXXXIII of William Butler Yeats

downstairs composing
that had made a great Peeeeacock
in the proide ov his oiye
had made a great peeeeeeecock in the . . .

made a great peacock
in the proide of his oyyee

proide ov his oy-ee

I find myself repeating it as if I was a pirate’s parrot, “Proide ov his oyyee, proide ov his oy-ee.” Continue reading

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