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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This Month in Mormon Literature, August 2014

The Void, Ryan Little’s third Saints and Soldiers movie, opens in Utah theaters to strong reviews. BYU professor Craig Harline’s missionary memoir has been published by Eerdmans Publishing, a respected publisher of Christian and religious books, and has gotten positive early notices. Kimberly Griffiths Little returns with another middle grade mystery/fantasy set in the Louisiana bayou. Rachel Ann Nunes was plagiarized by a pseudonyms author. I became aware of Hamilton Springs Press/Xchyler Publishing, a new house with several Mormons on the editorial board, which has been publishing genre fiction since October 2012. Please send news and corrections to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

News and blogs

Rachel Ann Nunes discovered another author, writing under the name “Sam Taylor Mullens”, plagiarized one of her novels, A Bid for Love. It is quite a strange story, with the author giving a series of conflicting explanations before deleting her or his Facebook account. The author also appears to have tried to attack Nunes’ other books through a series of sock puppet reviewers. David Farland started a GoFundMe account to help Nunes with attorney fees, and wrote about the situation here. Continue reading

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The Business Side of Writing: To Your Good Health

It’s been a rough news week, and I think the story that took it from frustrating to downright depressing was the death of Robin Williams by his own hand. Now the 24 news cycle is devoted to him, and I think that’s perfectly appropriate. He was an icon. I hope, however, that this also opens up more dialogue on mental health and suicide, the #10 killer in our nation. It seems fitting, then, to write a piece on looking after yourself as a writer, both mentally and physically. Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you pursue your writing dream:

1. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: Because doctors’ appointments are sometimes expensive, depending on your insurance situations, it may be tempting to avoid them. Don’t ever do that. The same is true for dental appointments. Always get routine checkups and stay on top of any health issues before they become life threatening. It is MUCH cheaper to pay for routine visits than it is to foot the bill for a catastrophe. A lot of health problems start small and can be caught early if you give your doctors the chance by going to see them regularly. Continue reading

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YA Corner: Great Teachers, Great Words

In rural Lemhi County, fifth and sixth graders were taught together in the same classroom by the same teacher, Mr. Harris. In 1973, there might have been around twenty-five total fifth and sixth graders. The grades were segregated to two sides of the classroom. The grades had their own appropriate assignments for basic subjects, but some interchange existed, to the good of all. For example, the read-aloud, always held after lunch and always looked forward to with eagerness, was of course shared by all students.

Continue reading

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