When Magdalene was nominated to be considered by the Whitney committee for the 2011 awards, Jennie Hansen, a well-known LDS reviewer and writer, posted a review on Goodreads that caused quite a stir in our little LDS writing community. Her review was short and to the point. She wrote:
“Disjointed, sloppy writing. Lacks real knowledge of Mormons and leadership in the Church. Too much vulgarity for vulgarities sake makes this story crude and amateurish.” If you are interested, you may read and/or comment on this review here. Continue reading “Rectifying by Review: my take on Moriah Jovan’s Magdalene”
It’s taking me a while to get through Monsters & Mormons, not because it’s not super enjoyable (because it is!), but because it’s a pretty long book (which, to me, is no flaw. The upcoming Saints on Stage: An Anthology For Mormon Drama which I edited for Zarahemla Books is a behemoth as well). Also when I finish a short story, I feel a temporary sense of completeness, so the book doesn’t always draw me back like a novel does because I’m not left “hanging” so to speak. So I’ve decided to break up my review of Monsters and Mormons over a few different reviews so I can write while the stories are still somewhat fresh in my mind. It will also allow me to address the short stories more individually instead of as a blurred whole.
First, my overall impression of Monsters & Mormons: it’s a winner. A big winner. As some one who has lived in imaginative waters since he was a child and hasn’t been afraid to invite his religion to play in those waters with him, I totally dig projects like this. Now, I’ve never been much of a horror fan, especially when it leads to copious amounts of blood and gore. I mean, like, yuck. Not my thing. However, I do love ghost stories and supernatural monsters (I keep wanting to read some H.P. Lovecraft), and, if it doesn’t lead to too much gruesomeness, I can definitely enjoy stories like this. This is definitely not something I would suggest to some of my less adventurous or conservative thinking family and friends, but it’s something I would suggest to the imaginative Mormon who doesn’t mind mixing fantasy and religion (and I know a number of non-Mormons who would get a kick out of it!) . So let’s get to the individual stories in the first part of the collection:
Continue reading “Review: With a Title Like _Monsters & Mormons_, How Could You Not Have Fun?, Part One”
Last week in a guest post on Dawning of a Brighter Day, Jana Riess suggested that Mormon novelists have a more difficult time getting published than those in the Christian market because Deseret Book dominates the LDS market so much. [I can’t resist pointing out that I’ve argued the same thing here on A Motley Vision, and that others have made this argument as well.]
But Riess went further, suggesting that novelists who can’t get a contract with Deseret Book should self-publish instead of going with any of the other publishers in the LDS market. Really?
Continue reading “Is Deseret Book the only LDS publisher worth publishing with?”
A couple of weeks ago Jonathan Langford posted his vision of an online Mormon Lit bookstore–something I’m also quite interested in. I very much believe in that vision, and if I had the resources and connections necessary, I’d start the bookstore he describes as soon as possible. I think such a bookstore could be successful, and would likely be a great help to building and audience for Mormon literature.
There are, however, some large hurdles to overcome.
Continue reading “The Difficulties Faced by an Online Mormon Lit Bookstore”
Many of us (here and elsewhere) have lamented over the problem of trying to reach and/or create an audience of Mormon readers who might have an interest in fiction reflecting a Mormon perspective but grittier or more realistic than what standard LDS bookstores can or will carry.
I don’t have any new ideas about how to find those readers. However, I do have an idea about a different piece of the puzzle. At the moment, there’s no single place to send people where they can browse for authors and titles that might interest them. My suggestion: an online store that caters specifically to Mormon literature, organized to make browsing easy — like a good brick-and-mortar bookstore — with a broad and inclusive enough selection that people could explore with a fair confidence of finding what they’re looking for.
Continue reading “The Concept of an Online Mormon Lit Bookstore”
I was startled recently to find myself described (in response to my review of Alan Williams’s novel Ockham’s Razor) as acting like a gatekeeper for Mormon literature. Partly this was because I had seen my comments mostly as definitional rather than exclusionary: Ockham’s Razor is a book of type X, as opposed to type Y. Mostly, though, I think it’s because calling me a gatekeeper seems to imply a level of power I don’t see myself as having.
The question of who gets to define Mormon literature, and what is good and bad within it, is an area where it seems to me that this kind of conflicted perspective is common. We here at A Motley Vision don’t see ourselves as a center of power and authority in the discussion of Mormon literature: rather, simply as a place where some of us get to hang out, shoot the breeze, talk about things that interest us (and that usually have nothing to do with our day jobs), and spout opinions that generally encounter as much disagreement as agreement from other posters (as witness the reaction to that same review). But to others, we are a bastion of The Establishment in Mormon literature — or so I suddenly perceive or guess. It is (would be) to laugh, if it were not also such a sad commentary on the state of Mormon letters.
Continue reading “Gatekeeping and Power in the Mormon Literary Community”
What will the LDS market look like 20 years from now? Will there even be an LDS market? Will there still be LDS books, music, film and other cultural goods? If they exist, will they simply be sold as part of the national market in the U.S.? What about outside of the U.S.?
Continue reading “How Vulnerable is the LDS Market?”
Author’s note: This started as a post on my own blog on whether or not No Going Back is a YA novel. I showed it to William Morris, who suggested that I post it here. I quote from his comments: “I know you are worried about readers tiring of hearing about No Going Back, but this blog entry a) is literary criticism, which is the heart of AMV and b) tackles what is becoming a core question for Mormon fiction, imo, because of the huge number of authors finding success with YA and/or work for middle readers — that is, is YA capable of providing real literary value to Mormon letters and if so what level of “˜mature/explicit’ content can it deal with without alienating Mormon readers.”
So I’ve posted different versions (with different titles) in the two places. The version at my blog focuses on the original question of whether No Going Back is a YA novel. The version here retains most of that content, but also considers some more general questions about the nature and status of YA novels, particularly in the Mormon universe.
Continue reading “Some Definitional Thoughts About YA (Mormon) Fiction”
What are some of the major developments in Mormon literature over the past 20 years? Being under the painfully pleasant necessity of writing a short article (500-1000 words) during the next week on Mormon literature for a forthcoming reference work, this is something I’ve had occasion to ponder. I have an excellent source for up to about 1990 with the articles that were written for the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, but there’s an awful lot that has happened since then.
I’m cross-posting this from my blog partly because I think it’s relevant to our site focus — and relevant to some other recent posts — and because I don’t think very many people even know yet that my blog exists. Thanks for your indulgence.
It’s interesting being the author of a novel about a topic that matters so much to a lot of readers. Sex and religion are topics that people care about passionately (if you’ll pardon the double pun), and when they intersect, there’s little that’s more potentially volatile.
That’s all to the good when people like my book. I’ve gotten some amazing comments from people, not just about how the book affected them as a story but about the positive good they think it can do in the world. I’d like to believe those comments are all true. But it can be especially unpleasant when people don’t like my book — especially those who share my religious beliefs.
Continue reading “On Writing a Realistic Novel”