The Whitney Awards, Irreantum submissions and an Angolan artist

A quick look at the Whitney Awards

By now, I’m sure all of AMV’s readers have seen the announcement of this year’s finalists for the Whitney Awards. Congratulations to AMV’s Jonathan Langford for being selected as a finalist in the General Fiction category. He is also eligible for the best novel by a new author award. Full disclosure: I am not a Whitney voter. I believe Theric is. I don’t know if anybody else associated with AMV is. Updated disclosure, 3/21/2010: Rob Wells convinced me to be a Whitney Awards voter. I will be for sure voting in the Speculative Fiction and Historical Fiction categories. It is also quite likely that I will be able to finish reading the novels in the General Fiction category, as well.

I’ve compiled a quick breakdown of who published the finalists. It’s a pretty decent mix, actually: Continue reading “The Whitney Awards, Irreantum submissions and an Angolan artist”

Reviews: Farewell To Eden

My play Farewell To Eden, which has its closing performances this Friday, Saturday (matinee and evening, and Monday) at the Provo Theatre (105 East, 100 North in Provo), has been getting some good press. As some shameless self promotion and a plug for the closing performances, I wanted to share a couple of the positive reviews.

First, one from AML’s Nan McCulloch, who is one of my favorite theatre reviewers (and not just because she’s generally very supportive of my plays). Nan’s just one of the more insightful and intelligent theatre critics I’ve come across… and it doesn’t hurt that she always seems to “get” my plays. :] Here’s the link to her review on the AML discussion board:

Second, one from the Deseret News. For the record, although the reviewer Sharon Haddock thought the play lacked some “hope,” I would respectfully disagree. I just think the hope in the play is more subtle than she would have liked… perhaps she would have preferred a more wrapped up ending, so we’ll just have to disagree artistically. Otherwise, she was very complimentary. Here’s the link:

  For those who are interested in seeing the closing performances, you can make reservations by sending an e-mail to , with your name, how many tickets you want, and for which performance you want. Performances start at 7:30 on evenings, and 2 pm for the matinee.

News & Comment: Cedar Fort Title Makes Oprah & Other News

This past week has been quite busy for news about the LDS market and the publishing industry. The following are noteworthy:

  • Cedar Fort saw unexpected promotional success with Melissa Moore‘s book, Shattered Silence, which will be the subject of an Oprah episode that airs September 17th.
  • Deseret Management announced that the websites of Deseret Book, KSL, the Deseret News, LDS Church News, and Mormon Times will now all be managed by a new division in the company, Deseret Digital.
  • A 17-year-old American Fork teenager M’Lin Rowley, signed a 10-book deal with Deseret Book‘s Shadow Mountain imprint.

Continue reading “News & Comment: Cedar Fort Title Makes Oprah & Other News”

Irreantum contest results, new Mormon Artist and The Mormon Review

I wasn’t going to do another round up post so soon, but three big pieces of news broke over the weekend (and in to yesterday — which was still my weekend because me and the family went to the Minnesota State Fair) that deserve a mention:

1. The have been announced. Irreantum co-editor Angela Hallstrom wrote in to the AML-list and said that while winning the contest is no guarantee of publication in Irreantum, most likely most of the winners will see their work featured in the magazine. Of note, for the first time the organizers revealed the number of entries — 71 for the fiction contest and 42 for the personal essay contest.

2. There’s a new edition of Mormon Artist. It includes a fascinating feature article by Iconia blogger (and artist and critic) Menachem Wecker titled “Are scholars and museums ignoring Mormon artists?” Mormon Artist editor Ben Crowder also announced that their fiction contest results and special issue should be available soon and that Mormon Artists is moving from a bi-monthly to quarterly schedule. As we’ve come to expect, this edition of Mormon Artist features great photography and illustration. In general, the Mormon publications have stepped up their game the past few years with their visual appeal — although some could still use better design and graphics.

3. The Mormon Review, a blog/online journal devoted to cultural criticism from a Mormon perspective, launched yesterday with a look at the two versions of Battlestar Galactica by James Bennett. I like that you can download PDF versions of the file. I think it’s weak that discussion on the articles is slotted over to time Times & Seasons. I’m not sure how The Mormon Review is going to carve out its own identity when most of the publicly viewed energy is directed towards T&S.  But it’s off to a rollicking start, and it’ll be interesting to see what future articles bring us.

Happy Birthday, Mormon Fiction

The first work of Mormon fiction was published 165 years ago today, on the front page of the New York Herald, so if Mormon fiction has a birthday, it is today.

Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Mormon Fiction”

Will Elna Baker Get Respect?

Sunday’s New York Post gossip column, Page Six, contained an item I can identify with, because several of my relatives don’t seem to like New York, where I live.  Elna Baker’s mother worried when her daughter headed to NYU for college instead of BYU, warning her to beware of smoking, drinking, drugs, homosexuality and exotic dancing in sin-filled New York City. Elna says, “I left thinking, ‘Great, my mom thinks I’m moving to the big city to become a lesbian stripper.’ “

Continue reading “Will Elna Baker Get Respect?”

What About Jer3miah?

The final episode of the first season of The Book of Jer3miah is supposed to be posted sometime today. I watched all 19 of the previous episodes earlier this week (each episode is only about 5 minutes long), and I have to say that I think its worth a look. Continue reading “What About Jer3miah?”

The Rise of the New Play Project, Part One: Humble Beginnings and a Bright Future

This is the first part of a series I’m writing on New Play Project, the most interesting and promising Mormon theater group to arrive on the scene for many years. Following installments will include:

Part Two: Little Happy Secrets: A Milestone in Mormon Drama

This piece will discuss on the significance of Melissa Leilani Larson’s groundbreaking play, which artistically put New Play Project on the map unlike anything else they had done previously.

Part Three: Prodigal Son: The Association of Mormon Letters Honors New Play Project

This piece will discuss James Goldberg’s short play “Prodigal Son” and the significance of it winning the AML’s 2008 Award for best play.

Part Four: Swallow the Sun and The Fading Flower: A personal perspective

In this piece I will discuss my own collaboration with New Play Project in producing my full length works.

Part Five: New Play Project: Here To Stay?

In the conclusion of the series, I’ll take a look at what I think it will take for New Play Project to survive.

Now onto Part One:

I’ll be honest, the first time I saw a show put on by New Play Project, I wasn’t particularly impressed. They were performing a set of short plays in a back room of the Provo library. Some of the writing was true quality, while other pieces were lackluster. The acting  and directing were uneven as well. And they were performing on wooden planks placed upon cinder blocks with little or no budget. There were real nuggets of promise in the set of plays I saw, but it was all still very unrefined.

However, even back then they had two things that have shaped them into the robust organization they are today: passion and organization. Those involved in the Project were a group of volunteers who were doing it for no other apparent reason than that they loved both theater and the Gospel and were intent on building “values driven theater.” This passion was evident from their earnestness, their valiant effort and their intent to improve.  As I became more acquainted with the group, I started to realize that these were people with a mission, ready to overcome the obstacles, discouragement and reckless criticism that comes against the birthing of any such group. Many of its leaders, such as the eloquent James Goldberg, the energetic Arisael Rivera and the sophisticated Bianca Dillard were ensuring the survival of the group through sheer belief, will power and work ethic. Continue reading “The Rise of the New Play Project, Part One: Humble Beginnings and a Bright Future”

Mormon Interest: Not Just C.S.Lewis, but Chaim Potok

Normally, when Mormons are mentioned in the weekly Jewish newspaper, The Forward, it has to do with the Baptism for the Dead of Holocaust victims. But the current issue finds a Mormon interest in author Chaim Potok, citing none other than the “expert on Mormon arts and culture” William Morris.

Continue reading “Mormon Interest: Not Just C.S.Lewis, but Chaim Potok”

Gadianton The Nobler, Reflections on Changes in the Book of Mormon

Introduction to Textual Variants Part IV
When my father taught as a Fulbright professor at the University of Oulu, Finland in 1970-71 we took along an anthology of humor, maybe A Sub-treasury of American Humor, ed. by E. B. White, which had this piece by Robert Benchley with the very strange title “Filling that Hiatus,” about what to do when the people on either side of you at a dinner party are talking to someone else. I couldn’t figure out what a hi-uh-toose was, and for some reason didn’t think to look it up. Now that I’ve been on a taxing highertoose for about a month I figure it’s thyme to parsley write down what I’ve been thinking about.

In Part III I mentioned Joseph Smith’s discourse of Sunday October 15, 1843 which starts with a comment on his love for the Constitution and its guarantees of religious freedom, then moves on to a comment about textual corruption in the Bible, “I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors.” (Documentary History of the Church VI:56-57)

The quote, though not the rest of the discourse, is well-known to seminary students and missionaries, and a young missionary might mention it to a woman who asks why we need additional revelation, hardly expecting her to say, “Do you really believe Jehovah God Almighty would allow errors to get into His scriptures?”

Continue reading “Gadianton The Nobler, Reflections on Changes in the Book of Mormon”