I recently was given a copy of Bright Angels & Familiars, a short-fiction collection edited by Eugene England (Signature Books, 1992). I rather wish someone had given me this book in high school. Who knows? Maybe I would have read it and who knows where I would be now!
Fascinatingly, this volume was published seven (seven!) years before his famous essay “Danger on the Right! Danger on the Left!” which decried two recent books of short fiction, one from Signature (1998), one from Deseret Book (1994), that, in his opinion, were more about spreading (im)piety than being good, ethetical and esthetical fiction. Oh, how disappointed he was in this turn in our letters.
For me, as the publisher of collections that, in my opinion, are of high ethical and esthetical value (The Fob Bible, Out of the Mount, Fire in the Pasture, Monsters & Mormons), I’m reading England’s collection with the desire to learn from our history — a history I am, alas, much too ignorant of. I’ve enjoyed England’s introduction and have read the first story (by none other than Virginia Sorensen). This post serves as an announcement that I will be blogging my reading of Bright Angels & Familiars here at AMV, one story at a time. The posts will be short and I have decided to avoid requiring myself to discuss any particular aspect of the tales (eg, their Mormonness, their ethics, what they teach about the history of MoLit, etc); instead I wish to respond honestly and see where this reading takes me.
Expect my first post, on Sorensen’s story, soon. Then they will appear irregularly as I fit stories into my rather hectic reading schedule.
See you soon.
ps: follow along at home — Signature has kindly made this volume available online