Review: With a Title Like _Monsters & Mormons_, How Could You Not Have Fun?, Part One

It’s taking me a while to get through  Monsters & Mormons, not because it’s not super enjoyable (because it is!), but because it’s a pretty long book (which, to me, is no flaw. The upcoming Saints on Stage: An Anthology For Mormon Drama which I edited for Zarahemla Books is a behemoth as well). Also when I finish a short story, I feel a temporary sense of completeness, so the book doesn’t always draw me back like a novel does because I’m not left “hanging” so to speak. So I’ve decided to break up my review of Monsters and Mormons over a few different reviews so I can write while the stories are still somewhat fresh in my mind. It will also allow me to address the short stories more individually instead of as a blurred whole.

First, my overall impression of Monsters & Mormons: it’s a winner. A big winner. As some one who has lived in imaginative waters since he was a child and hasn’t been afraid to invite his religion to play in those waters with him, I totally dig projects like this. Now, I’ve never been much of a horror fan, especially when it leads to copious amounts of blood and gore. I mean, like, yuck. Not my thing. However, I do love ghost stories and supernatural monsters (I keep wanting to read some H.P. Lovecraft), and, if it doesn’t lead to too much gruesomeness, I can definitely enjoy stories like this. This is definitely not something I would suggest to some of my less adventurous or conservative thinking family and friends, but it’s something I would suggest to the imaginative Mormon who doesn’t mind mixing fantasy and religion (and I know a number of non-Mormons who would get a kick out of it!) . So let’s get to the individual stories in the first part of the collection:

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Bright Angels & Familiars: “Sayso or Sense” by Eileen Gibbons Kump

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Before we get too deep into “Sayso or Sense” by Eileen Gibbons Kump, allow me to quote from the sixth page?

But that night she had a dream. God was conducting priesthood meeting and Grandpa and Israel and the carpenter were on the front row, hanging on every word. God said when they came to earth, men could have their choice–sayso or sense–but they couldn’t have both because that wouldn’t be fair to the women. He called a vote and Grandpa’s hand shot up for sayso before God had finished speaking. Amy awoke, sure the choice had been unanimous. By daylight she had decided that, God approving, she had no alternative but to leave the men to their folly.

Continue reading “Bright Angels & Familiars: “Sayso or Sense” by Eileen Gibbons Kump”

Fire in the Pasture

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I know, I know. I’ve already waxed hyperbolic about this book and recently even. It’s easy to do. Who can question that this book Tyler Chadwick has edited is of enormous cultural significance? It’s astonishing how many excellent poets he found and convinced to participate.

But here’s the thing. Even though I saw most of the emails he received during his marathon efforts, even though I even read some of the poems before the collection was compiled (but not many; I didn’t want to influence the editorial decisions unduly), even though the whole book was my idea, I had no idea how good the final product would be.

I have on my nightstand now a galley proof of Fire in the Pasture and I get lost in it every night. Hundreds and hundreds of pages of stellar poems from dozens of poets. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so enraptured with a poetry collection before — it’s not something that happens to me much.

But this collection is not just important. This collection is good to read.

I wish there were a way to show you. Soon we’ll have a free sample for you to download, but I just don’t know how it can compare the with overwhelming pleasures of holding this massive paper tome filled with the best Mormon poetry of the last decade.

I want to apologize for this self-promotional post, but I can’t. I don’t feel bad at all. Believe me when I say you need this book.