A litany of excellent links

I’ve got a bunch of cool stuff piled up to share. Some of it’s fresh and new; some of it has aged a few weeks or even months. But it’s all good, and if you are looking for some good reading, right click on all the links below and open them up in new tabs and get lost for awhile in reading about fiction and poetry.

The chanson challenge

After reading and participating in the robust discussion on Kent’s Reaching the Market post, chanson wrote up a post featuring a bunch of Mormon-related works (some fiction, some nonfiction) and challenges Mormons and ExMormons alike to determine if they are anti-Mormon or not. Please note that the link is to the ExMo-oriented blog Main Street Plaza. There’s stuff that orthodox Mormons won’t like, but their cultural coverage is worth checking out for those interested in the middle market of Mormon culture.

Emily Milner on the poetics of LDS fiction

If you haven’t checked out Segullah Associate Editor Emily Milner’s LDS fiction-related posts on her personal blog Hearing Voices, then the link above will take you to a handy index of everything she’s written so far on the topic. There’s some great stuff there. My favorite post so far is on negation of negation, which takes Robert McKee’s principle of antagonism and applies it to LDS fiction. Good stuff. And much of her work is focused on the finalists for The Whitneys so if you are looking for more analysis/reviews of those titles, Emily’s blog is the best place to start (and her future posts in this category will appear on the Mormon Arts feed over there in the left sidebar). And speaking of The Whitneys… Continue reading “A litany of excellent links”

Are we discarding our Mormon heritage? (with Jeff Needle)

Last week I read my Easter gift from my parents: Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books by Aaron Lansky. It’s a remarkable, wonderful story (and the story is pretty much what’s in the subtitle of the book), but even more than that it’s a fascinating exploration of how culture is created, fought over, transmitted and discarded. The book is filled with fascinating, touching and moving moments.

And of course, after reading it, I began to wonder if on a much smaller scale, the same problem was happening with Mormon literature. And I do mean a much smaller scale. First of all, Mormon books were mostly published in English (with the exception of the Deseret Alphabet and a few foreign language titles) so that barrier to transmission and block to preservation doesn’t exist. And the number of Mormon-related works that were published never reached the amazing amounts of Yiddish books and periodicals that were produced, which means it’s easier to get a handle on a fairly complete collection. And there are academic collections that are fairly good at BYU and elsewhere. So on the whole, I’m not super worried that our Mormon heritage is being tossed out in dumpsters.

And let it be said: most of the Jews that died in the Holocaust were Yiddish speaking. And Yiddish speakers and, especially, writers also faced great persecution at the hands of Stalin. Most of Mormonism’s literary production happened after its persecutions.

And yet, I owe my interest in Mormon literature to three shelves of books at the Berkeley LDS Institute that were donated. I don’t know if all of the titles came from the same family or person. But I’m pretty sure that most of them were donations and not acquisitions. I also owe the title of this blog to Roy Markow (or his descendants, possibly) who donated a copy of Orson F. Whitney’s “Love and the Light: An Idyl of the Westland” to the Berkeley Institute. “A Motley Vision” is taken from that poem (which by the way, I still have. I figure it this way — nobody had checked it out before I did. There were actually two copies. And someday I will return it). The people who made these donations could very well have just tossed the books or given them to Deseret Industries or put them in their basements or attic to molder and suffer water damage. Continue reading “Are we discarding our Mormon heritage? (with Jeff Needle)”