I’ve got a bunch of cool stuff piled up to share. Some of it’s fresh and new; some of it has aged a few weeks or even months. But it’s all good, and if you are looking for some good reading, right click on all the links below and open them up in new tabs and get lost for awhile in reading about fiction and poetry.
After reading and participating in the robust discussion on Kent’s Reaching the Market post, chanson wrote up a post featuring a bunch of Mormon-related works (some fiction, some nonfiction) and challenges Mormons and ExMormons alike to determine if they are anti-Mormon or not. Please note that the link is to the ExMo-oriented blog Main Street Plaza. There’s stuff that orthodox Mormons won’t like, but their cultural coverage is worth checking out for those interested in the middle market of Mormon culture.
If you haven’t checked out Segullah Associate Editor Emily Milner’s LDS fiction-related posts on her personal blog Hearing Voices, then the link above will take you to a handy index of everything she’s written so far on the topic. There’s some great stuff there. My favorite post so far is on negation of negation, which takes Robert McKee’s principle of antagonism and applies it to LDS fiction. Good stuff. And much of her work is focused on the finalists for The Whitneys so if you are looking for more analysis/reviews of those titles, Emily’s blog is the best place to start (and her future posts in this category will appear on the Mormon Arts feed over there in the left sidebar). And speaking of The Whitneys…
I seriously fell down in coverage of The Whitney Awards. But I did suggest to Rob Wells that they use Coveritlive to liveblog this year, and they did. So I take some credit for the above hilarity. I’d like to see more bloggernaclites use the same service to cover events. It’s better than Twitter or updating a blog post and you can even include comments from people viewing the liveblogging.
Oh and: Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!
Jeff Needle comes through with one of the most interesting AML reviews of a Covenant-published novel in quite some time. Of Jeni Grossman’s thriller Missing Pieces, he writes: “The situation here is perfect for a cheesy Mormon moment. Had the author chosen the easy way out, the story would have gone as follows: Dulcey meets the man, tries to get him to allow the missionaries to come and introduce the Gospel to him. At the last possible moment, he reveals that he’s her father, and voila!, families can be forever! To my immense surprise, Grossman avoids all of this.” Read the rest of the review if you haven’t already.
I have no idea if Alexander McCall Smith’s popular mystery novels are any good. But I really like what he has to say about how real readers connect with fictional characters in this WSJ piece. A quote: “Stories have an effect in this world. They are part of our moral conversation as a society. They weigh in; they change the world because they become part of our cultural history. There never was an Anna Karenina or a Madame Bovary, even if there might have been models, but what happened to these characters has become part of the historical experience of women.”
S.P. Bailey sent me a link to this National Review Online article on reading the work of Flannery O’Connor. At heart, the article is an important reminder that the violence and ugliness often found in her work isn’t just some post-modern freak show obsession. Rather it is to show the workings of divine grace. For: “Grace must wound before it can heal, she declared, and her fiction is filled with both woundings and healings.”
Artist, critic and friend of AMV Menachem Wecker wrote the fantastic, brief essay linked to above for NPR’s This I Believe series. It didn’t air, which is a bit frustrating since as far as I can recall, they haven’t dealt much with art and religion in the series, but they did post it to their website. Here’s the first line: “ I sort of believe in religious art’s ability to save the world.” I couldn’t have said it any better myself (or in his development of the idea that follows). Thanks, Menachem. It was posted several weeks ago, but it came a time when I really needed just such a reminder. I think you’ll enjoy it too.
And that’s it for now. Short Story Friday will be posted mid-afternoon. So really, you all have no excuse to not have a weekend filled with thought-provoking, inspiring and fun reading. And if any of this provokes the need to say something, speak up in the comments. But get it all done tomorrow because it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday.