Mormon Lit: Who Was Samuel W. Taylor?

Samuel Wooley Taylor (1907-1997) was a grandson of John Taylor (the third president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and one of thirty-six children of John Whittaker Taylor (an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). In the taxonomy of Mormon authors, Continue reading “Mormon Lit: Who Was Samuel W. Taylor?”

Mormon Lit: A Believing People

Take a self-guided tour of important works of Mormon literature. That has been my ambition for a little while now. Having come into some book money (picture a cobalt-blue lake in the Canadian Rockies, a little wager with my wife, and me taking a very cold swim), I have started a small collection. I plan to exploit AMV to post reports of what I find. With any luck, good stuff will get some well-deserved attention and worthwhile conversations will ensue. At a minimum, posting this up front should motivate me to read, reflect, remember, and so forth well enough not to embarrass myself too much. 

My first stop: A Believing People (Richard Cracroft and Neal Lambert, editors). Continue reading “Mormon Lit: A Believing People”

The West, Stegner, Mormon Lit

I live once again in the western United States. I have shortly lived elsewhere, two years in Brazil, two years in Maryland, but the west is home. I knew this for certain crossing the plains by car last fall. Around the same time, I read Wallace Stegner’s Big Rock Candy Mountain. Continue reading “The West, Stegner, Mormon Lit”

Billy Collins on Mormon Literature

How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer
wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hill towns.
How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets,
fully grasping the meaning of every road sign and billboard
and all the sudden hand gestures of my compatriots.

Those five lines, the first stanza of Billy Collins’ poem “Consolation,” introduce him as well as any might. Collins is not afraid of being appreciated by ordinary people, he uses humor to illuminate more weighty subjects, he is at once beguiling and profound. Continue reading “Billy Collins on Mormon Literature”

Mormon Lit: Mormon Scripture as Literature

The Mormon canon, our scriptures, are either the bedrock of the Mormon literary canon (assuming there is such a thing) or something else–texts that stand apart and serve as both sources and standards for the rest. We are commanded to read the scriptures. In doing so, there is a temptation (I know it well) to read the scriptures as if they were merely divine instruction manuals. To move from the knowledge that scriptures contain important information to reading scriptures as if mere information is all that they contain. Continue reading “Mormon Lit: Mormon Scripture as Literature”

About Shawn P. Bailey

I am a recovering humanities nerd, a former English major who exclusively pursued unmarketable knowledge until the day I applied to law school. That decision–law school–felt like giving up on becoming a writer, but it was the culmination of an honest assessment of what I lacked. A wealthy patron, for example. Continue reading “About Shawn P. Bailey”