Two Mormon books this year seem to be getting absolute purity of praise. A Short Stay in Hell by Steven L. Peck and Dispirited by Luisa M. Perkins both seem to have been more widely discussed online in their first few months than most Mormon books get in their first couple years, and both books have been loved by those readers. Which is great, I think we’ll all agree, especially when both books are doing very curious things for “Mormon books.”
A Short Stay is published by Strange Violin and Dispirited by Zarahemla—both publishers with a Mormon bent—even though A Short Stay begins with the Mormon hero learning that Zoroastrianism was the true religion and Dispirited never uses the M-word at all. So the fact that these books were published by whom they were published by, and that we’re discussing these books as “Mormon books,” is a pretty fascinating pair of facts up front. Then add in that they are both filled with information about spirits and postmortal realms. Suddenly the fact that these “Mormon books” have no explicitly Mormon content is not only odd but genuinely remarkable. Aren’t these the very topics for which religion even exists? What’s going on here?