Before Irreantum folded, I’d recruited a few people to write book reviews for what I thought would be the last issue. Among the reviewers was Emily Harris Adams, winner of the 2013 Mormon Lit Blitz. Emily was given the assignment to review D. J. Butler’s City of the Saints, a Mormon steampunk novel that was originally serialized and published through Amazon. After Irreantum‘s no-more-ness became manifest, Emily contacted me and asked what to do with her complimentary (i.e. FREE!) review copy. I told her to keep it and forget about the review. Not wanting the book to go to waste, though, she wrote the review anyway and sent it to me to post on A Motley Vision.
So, in memory of Irreantum, I post Emily’s review…with hope that the journal will find a new beginning sometime soon.
After reading City of the Saints, I couldn’t quite figure out a succinct way to describe the overarching, grand picture of what I had just mentally ingested. Not until I ran into Dave Butler himself. When he asked me what I thought of his book, I said,
“It’s history cake, isn’t it?”
And it is. There’s an unabashed reveling in the historical yumminess.
This book isn’t history candy. If you are looking for something enjoyable but without density, a fun read that happens to take place in a historical setting, turn your handcart around because this is not the right place. This story is rich and indulgent but still substantive. In other words: cake.
Continue reading “Guest Post: D. J. Butler’s City of the Saints: An Irreantum Review”
So there’s several Mormon novels I read that I kept meaning to review, but never got around to it. They were there in the back of my head, screaming at me, “Tell the world about us!” I looked compassionately at those great works of art and said, “Okay, I have a duty to you for making my life that much better. Okay.” So these are going to be fast and dirty, but they’ll be better than the guilty silence that has waited impatiently the past several years. So here’s a handful of some of the best Mormon Literature that I have come across the last several years:
THE PICTOGRAPH MURDERS
by P.G. Karamasines
Written by AMV’s very own Patricia Karasamines, this novel still has left a very vivid impression on me, despite the fact that it’s been probably six or seven years since I read it. It’s the story of Alex McKelvey, a Mormon convert who participates in a BYU sponsored archaeology dig in Southern Utah. Alex is a English/folklore student at the Y and a naturalist, so although she isn’t actually studying archaeology, her interest in the Southwest and the myths and culture of the Native Americans makes her interest in participating in the dig more than believable. At the dig, a disappearance and possible murder occurs, which leads us into an intriguing plot involving the possible involvement of mythological figures, culture clashes, and a tight, interesting thriller plot.
The characters in the novel were well drawn and intriguing, especially Alex (and, interestingly enough, her Siberian husky Kit), as well as the portrayal of the Native American mythological figure Coyote. Character driven in a magical realism setting, this was an achingly beautiful novel, despite masquerading as a thriller. The evocative language Karamesines uses, especially when describing Southern Utah’s emotional beauty or using her archetypal brush to paint new visions on Native American mythology. Being a lover of mythology, cultural exchange, and poetic prose, this book was right up my alley. Beautifully written, intelligently plotted, and deeply satisfying, I would heartily recommend The Pictograph Murders to nearly anyone.
Continue reading “Review: A Few Good Mormon Novels”
After 20 years of writing about books written by “BYU faculty, staff, alumni, and members of BYU’s Board of Trustees,” emeritus BYU professor Richard H. Cracroft will stop writing his Book Nook column with the Summer issue of BYU Magazine.
This move ends one of the more consistent and long-term sources of information about Mormon literature, which makes up a significant portion of Cracroft’s coverage. The columns mention as many as a dozen titles, meaning that over 20 years Cracroft has covered something approaching a thousand books. His column was especially valuable for the first decade of its existence, before the AML review archive was started and reviews of LDS books became much more common.
Most of the columns are available online in the BYU Magazine archives, which go back to 1996. For the first 5 years of Cracroft’s Book Nook column, you’ll have to find them in a library or private collection.
If I get a chance, I’ll call BYU Magazine later today and ask if the column will be continued by someone else. [I called — see comment #11 below.]
I had no idea that The LDS Church’s magazine for kids The Friend published book reviews until I happened to glance over at my daughter a couple of Sunday’s ago as she was reading the reviews in the May 2009 issue. My interest was piqued so I went over to the LDS.org to see what I could discover.
A search of The Friend on LDS.org for “book reviews” shows that this feature began in May 2006 and that a Book Reviews column has been published in every November and May issue since then. Two prior results also appear — one in 1982 and one in 1985. [Of course, it may be that that search isn’t turning up everything.]
Some of the titles reviewed in the May 2009 issue are: Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective, by Donald J. Sobol; Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parish; Small Pig, by Arnold Lobel; and Bertie Was a Watchdog, by Rick Walton (a bit of homerism, here, as Rick is LDS), illustrated by Arthur Robins. Continue reading “The Friend’s book reviews”