A sampling of Mormon literary criticism from Dialogue’s archives

To celebrate the liberation of Dialogue’s archives from the clumsy format they were previously in*, I thought I’d pull out a few pieces of Mormon literary criticism for AMV readers to download and peruse. There’s some excellent stuff there, and the virtue of the PDF format is that one has the piece in a self-contained easily opened, read and referenced format. And don’t forget that even if you can’t subscribe, there’s always the option to donate $5 or $10 as a show of appreciation for making the archives available. So here’s a few cool pieces that I’ve found so far (please note that the links are to PDF downloads of the article):

This is just a small sampling of the riches available. I’m particularly looking forward to reading some of the original reviews of works that are now considered part of the Mormon canon (such as it is).

One more thought: what do you think of adding work like what I’ve linked to above to AMV’s Friday Feature rotation?

*Of course, now articles and full editions are dumped in to PDF files, but hey, at least the PDFs are searchable (and the search engine is much faster and more intuitive than what was found in the UofU archive solution), and really it’s the best we could hope for considering the limitations involved.

Poetry in Print — April 2010

This is the third year that I have prepared a bibliography of poetry by Mormons in print for National Poetry Month. Surprisingly, this year we only added titles to the list — nothing went out-of-print. But don’t think that is because all these books are easy to find.

Continue reading “Poetry in Print — April 2010”

Short Story Friday: Outsiders by Margaret Young

It’s time to get back to AMV’s Friday Features. And I wanted to do so by digging into the Dialogue archives and pulling out a short story that I had never read or even heard of but one that was by an author whose work I was familiar with. I haven’t read it yet — and I’m booked this weekend so I may not get to it until Sunday afternoon or evening. But this it what fit the bill. Enjoy (I hope)…

Title: Outsiders

Author: M. J. Young (Margaret Young)

Publication Info: Dialogue 24:1 (Spring 1991)

Submitted by: Wm Morris

Why?: I don’t know yet.


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Angela Hallstrom and the Art of Short-Story Arrangement


This is the third and final entry in this series. The first part of our interview was about Ms Hallstom’s novel-in-stories Bound on Earth. The second was about her editorship of the literary journal Irreantum. This third portion is about the short-story collection, Dispensation: Latter-day Fiction, that she edited for Zarahemla Books (review).

Dispensation:Latter-day Fiction

Let’s start with what criteria a story had to meet to even be considered for inclusion. What were the ground rules going in to this anthology? Continue reading “Angela Hallstrom and the Art of Short-Story Arrangement”

Randy Astle on “What is Mormon Cinema?”

The latest (v. 42, no. 4) issue of Dialogue features another important Mormon film article by Randy Astle* titled “What Is Mormon Cinema? Defining the Genre.” Astle pulls together work by Mormon (Preston Hunter) and non-Mormon film critics (Hamid Naficy, Rick Altman) in an attempt to position Mormon film as somewhere (Astle says “positioned in the interstices”) between genre and ethnic cinema.

The article is available via a subscription to Dialogue, but Randy has generously allowed me to excerpt a few passages here at AMV. To start out with I want to present his basic summary of the second point of his two-part purpose for the article (the first is to offer up the case for “approaching Mormon film from a taxonomical perspective” — I’m going to assume that most of AMV’s readers already believe in the merits of such an approach, or at least allow that such an approach can be a useful exercise in literary criticism). Continue reading “Randy Astle on “What is Mormon Cinema?””

Short Story Friday: Now and at the Hour of Our Death by Todd Robert Petersen

We’re starting back up with feature Fridays at AMV. Starting late, but starting nonetheless, and we’re kicking off with the return of Short Story Friday. Today (actually tonight), it’s a story by Todd Robert Petersen. Why? Because his Marilyn Brown Unpublished Novel Award-winning Rift* has just been published by Zarahemla Books. For more on Rift, see Laura’s recent interview with Todd. For a taste of his work, click on the link below.

Title: Now and at the Hour of Our Death

Author: Todd Robert Petersen

Publication Info: Dialogue, Summer 2003

Submitted by: Theric Jepson

Why?: Theric writes: “.

I think Petersen is the best short story writer we have at the moment. This particular story is often mentioned to me by others as being their favorite.”


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*Full disclosure: this is going to sound like bragging, but I do think it’s best to disclose any conflicts of interest. So here it is: I read a draft of Rift and commented on it. I have not read the final version of the novel. Also: I very much enjoyed the version I read even though I was initially put off by the idea that Todd was writing a rural Utah novel when I specifically applauded him for the international flavor of his short stories in Long After Dark.

Liner notes for “Gentle Persuasions”

So if I am understanding things correctly, the fall issue of Dialogue has been printed and will be previewed at the Sunstone Symposium this week, and it contains my Dialogue debut — the series of five shortish short stories “Gentle Persuasions.” So not to torture those of you who won’t be receiving your copy in the mail for several weeks, but I promise liner notes in my author’s note, and I am a man of my word.

Okay, so part of why I do this is simple self-indulgence. But it’s also part of my project to demystify and interrogate the production, distribution and consumption of fiction and to document my own thinking as a writer and a critic. There are spoilers ahead if you care about such things. Not major spoilers, but spoilers. The good news is that if you purchase an electronic subscription to Dialogue, you can read the story (and all the other good content) as soon as it is posted. Continue reading “Liner notes for “Gentle Persuasions””

Short Story Friday: Pioneers by Michael Fillerup

I’m not doing this on this day to be cute or sentimental — this story demands more than that. And deserves it.

Title: Pioneers

Author: Michael Fillerup

Publication Info: Dialogue, Winter 2007

Submitted by: Andrew Hall

Why?: Andrew says: “I like all of Fillerup’s stories.  Nicely descriptive, strong content. His two novels have not worked as well for me.”


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Short Story Friday: Danger on the Right! Danger on the Left! by Eugene England

For today a departure from our normal reading — a piece of criticism rather than a short story. Read it and then go back and read one or two or three of the Short Story Friday stories you haven’t read yet.

Title: Danger on the Right! Danger on the Left! The Ethics of Recent Mormon Fiction

Author: Eugene England

Publication Info: Fall 1999 — Dialogue, Volume 32, Number 3

Submitted by: William Morris

Why?: 1. Because it’s the most significant piece of Mormon criticism published so far that focuses on short stories. 2. Because I think it gets at what I mean by the radical middle (but not entirely) 3. Because it has an hilarious title. 4. Because it’s criticism that actually dares to not only examine ethics but use specific examples! 5. Because it’s Eugene England.


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Short Story Friday: And by N. E. Houston

Harlow explains it so much better  than I can (see below).

Title: And

Author: N. E. Houston

Publication Info: Summer 1990 — Dialogue, Volume 23, Number 2

Submitted by: Harlow Clark

Why?: Harlow writes:

“The author gave this story an unindexable title because he has all these story collections with titles like Nothing Very Important and Other Stories, and The Voice of the Moon and Other Songs of the Night, but none of them has a story called And. He intended the story to be a bridge between The Voice of the Moon, a story by the main character of And, and Other Songs of the Night, the character’s master’s thesis.

The collection the story belongs to is unfinished. The design is to alternate stories about Amos Corbin with stories he writes about his experience. So in one story, “Shoulder to the Wheel” he imagines himself as Sisyphus, then writes a story called “Sisyphus” based on that moment in Ovid’s Metamorphoses when Orpheus comes into the underworld seeking Eurydice and all the torments stop because his song is so beautiful they can’t not listen. (It’s not as boring or erudite as it sounds.)

The author only needed 90 pages for his own thesis, so he took several he had written and used them, and swears he’ll finish the others some day.

The story reads like a nightmare of poop and pee and unrequited desire near the end of a semester. One letter to the editor said, “and baby makes three” but I suspect it’s more (or also) a story about a man whose marriage is in deep trouble but he can only bear to think about it in his dreams. I think the opening sequence, with Amos trying to get to the great and spacious building is his wife’s view of him, seeping into his dreams.

(Way the by, the author’s initials stand for Nathaniel Edward, Nathaniel being that Israelite of old in whom there was no guile, like unto Edward Partridge.)”


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