I hadn’t heard of Eric Freeze until last year. I suppose this isn’t surprising, what with him being Canadian, ha ha, but for a Mormon with as long a fiction CV as he has, I’m sorry I hadn’t. Plus, he’s an academic who writes about comics and I really needed one more of those back in 2010 when I was finishing up the Sunstone comics issue. Ah well. I’ll know where to turn next time.
Dominant Traits is a US reprint by Dufour Editions of Dominant Traits from Oberon Press, the orginal Canadian collection of Freeze’s stories, all but one of which have been previously published in a variety of reputable literary rags. The exception is “Goths”; we’ll talk about it later.
The collection is a complex mix, and so I’m going to break this review into pieces. Also, we’re going to try mixing the review with an interview. I’ll end each bit of review in the form of a question. Then get Brother Freeze to reply.
Shall we get started?
Wm says: Ben Christensen was kind enough to submit this review, which takes a look at another entry in the interesting sub-genre of “Mormon literature that is also gay literature.” And what’s really interesting is that he does so by comparing it to John Bennion’s novel Falling Toward Heaven, which is about sexuality, but that of the hetero- variety.
Ben Christensen used to blog at the Fobcave. Now he lurks on other people’s blogs. And submits the occasional guest post, apparently.
Title: The Abominable Gayman
Author: Johnny Townsend
Reviewed by Ben Christensen
Note: Ben received a free review copy of this book from the author.
“I used to think,” says Elder Anderson, the narrator and protagonist of The Abominable Gayman, “that the goal of perfection meant we all had to become the same, but here in Italy, I’d seen new flowers, tasted different foods, spoken a different language, and I realized that the best, most perfect rose could never inspire the exact same feelings as a perfect hedge of five-pointed star jasmine.” Elder Anderson, you see, is a gay Mormon serving a mission in Rome, and is only starting to consider the possibility that perhaps becoming straight is not a necessary step on his path to perfection. In the process of figuring out where this collection of short stories fits in gay Mormon literature–whether nearer Jonathan Langford’s No Going Back or Tony Kushner’s Angels in America–I realized it doesn’t necessarily fit among other gay Mormon-themed literature. But it is definitely Mormon literature. The most appropriate comparison, I believe, is to John Bennion’s Falling Toward Heaven. Both Falling and Gayman tell the story of a young man who, by normal Mormon standards, is doing everything wrong, yet somehow finds himself stumbling into a better understanding of himself and a closer relationship with God. Continue reading “Ben C. reviews the short story collection The Abominable Gayman”
John Bennion has been awarded the Marilyn Brown Unpublished Novel Award for Avenging Saints. The award was announced at an April 21 event sponsored by Utah Valley University’s Department of English & Literature.
Associate Professor Jen Wahlquist, who is now administering the contest, graciously provided me with the text of the award citation (reproduced below).
This is the sixth time the award has been given out. Previous winners include Jack Harrel’s Vernal Promises (published by Signature Books), Mormonville by Jeff Call (published by Cedar Fort), House Dreams by Janean Justham (unpublished?), The Coming of Elijah by Arianne Cope (Parables Publishing), and Rift by Todd Robert Petersen (forthcoming from Zarahemla Books).
The Association for Mormon Letters is still involved in the award to a certain extent
Although the AML was involved in awards process for the first five winners, the funding for the contest now resides with UVU (link is to a PowerPoint), and it is now going to be given out annually (links to PDF file). For those unfamiliar with the long and varied creative career of Marilyn Brown, here’s a link to her Mormon Literature Database entry. In particular, I would recommend here novel House on the Sound. Continue reading “John Bennion wins Marilyn Brown Novel Award for “Avenging Saints””