Weekend (Re)Visitor: “Family History”

With this post Weekend (Re)Visitor joins  Short Story Friday and as one of AMV’s Friday features. It involves one of the co-bloggers revisiting a work of Mormon narrative art that he or she has consumed, reviewed or commented upon in the past and saying something about that experience. Or it involves one of us picking up a work that’s new to us, but which we have read/heard about and developed certain attitudes about. Because of the nature of this feature, it will usually contain spoilers. Read on at your own risk.

I’ve been thinking about Todd Robert Petersen’s novella “Family History” (from his short story collecton Long After Dark) for the past couple of weeks. Part of the reason is that his novel Rift was recently published, but it’s also because I wanted to kick of Weekend (Re)Visitor with something that I could read in a day, but wasn’t a short story.  There’s also that I didn’t write much about it when I reviewed the collection back in 2007.

Here’s my one sentence assessment after the re-read: it’s more audacious, worse speculative fiction, and both more complicated and close to home literature than I had remembered. It also remains, as far as I know, the first and most direct Mormon fiction response to the events of Sept. 11. And I like it very much for all of those qualities while at the same time I’m not sure how well I could defend it strictly on the grounds of modern American literary criticism. It is a wonderful Mormon hybrid that would be much less of interest to non-Mormon readers than the stories in the collection (all of which would not seem out of place in a literary journal — and indeed some of them were printed in literary journals, although mainly in Mormon ones). Continue reading “Weekend (Re)Visitor: “Family History””