Short Story Friday: Otherwise Afflicted by Steve Evans

When Steve first sent this to me for review for Popcorn Popping (because in the beginning if either Steve, Brian G. or I were going to post our own work the other two had to agree that it was worth posting), I experienced one of those authorial twinges of pain because it was exactly like a project I had planned out about a year or so previous but hadn’t completed. That is, a series of shortish short stories or vignettes that all centered around one common experience (with Steve it was writing someone’s name on the temple prayer roll; mine was about priesthood duos visiting homes*).  But I quickly got over it and instead reveled in the fact that this sort of thing was clearly in the air.  What I like about this story is how fantastically Mormon it feels.

Title: Otherwise Afflicted

Author: Steve Evans

Publication Info: Popcorn Popping, 2006

Submitted by: Katya

Why?: Katya says: “I’ve been going through the Popcorn Popping archives and found this story very interesting, but was disappointed that there wasn’t much discussion about it there. Reposting it will hopefully amend that.”

Wm adds: “Agreed. Thanks, Katya!”


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* Note: that would be Gentle Persuasions

Short Story Friday: Return by William Morris

We’re going self-serving for today’s Short Story Friday.

Title: Return

Author: William Morris

Publication Info: Popcorn Popping, December 2007

Submitted by: S.P. Bailey

Why?: “1. Missionary and post-mission fiction is fraught with possibility. Wm. captures a lot of good stuff here: disorientation, anticipation of an uncertain future, and the powerful way that a place can imprint itself on a missionary’s mind.

“2. This story was posted in the last days of popcorn popping. I didn’t feel like it got the audience it deserved. Hopefully it gets some love here.”

Thanks, Shawn.

A few comments on the story by the author (me):

1. It’s not autobiographical or even semi-autobiographical even though it reads as it probably would be. Okay, that’s not entirely true. The image of the bus is from my mission to Romania, but it’s made much more than it really was. It was more of an aesthetic experience for me personally — and I was already writing it as I was experiencing it. All that stuff about time is stuff I added when writing the story.

2. I’m not convinced by the ending. I rewrote it several times. I think it still needs work.

3. What is important about this story is that it marks the first time that I try to explore through fiction some uniquely Mormon psycho-emotional-spiritual moments — or at least such moments expressed mainly through the language and worldview of Mormonism. It’s become a bit of an obsession, really. Most of my Mormon-themed fiction since then has tried to do the same thing. Which means it all shares the same weaknesses as this story — a bit thin on plot, edges in to sentimentalism, and focuses too much on interiority.

Not to bias your reading or anything.


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Short Story Friday: “A Picture of My Father as a Young Man” by Eugene Woodbury

This will be our last Short Story Friday for a bit — this feature is going on hiatus for a month so that AMV can celebrate National Poetry Month (more on that when April hits). This week, we’re circling back to Popcorn Popping for a story by Eugene Woodbury.

Title: A Picture of My Father as a Young Man

Author: Eugene Woodbury

Publication Info: Popcorn Popping, Sept. 2006 [Wow — was it really that long ago?]

Submitted by: Eugene Woodbury

Why?: Eugene writes:

“This story is based on a true incident, the Schenectady/Glenville (New York) ward chapel burning down.”

Wm adds: What I liked about this story when we accepted it for publication was how it brings together the issue of children with much older parents (often the result of second marriages) and on how some generations of Mormons, those who were around when congregations paid for and built their own chapels, have a different relationship to their ward buildings than younger generations. In particular, it fits in to my own Mormon lit hobby of desiring more stories that deal with the issues that arose/arise out of the post-WWII Mormon diaspora.


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Short Story Friday: “Talk” by S.P. Bailey

So after pouncing on the opportunity presented by the AML Awards, we’re picking back up with submissions to Short Story Friday. Some of these early submissions are some of us active AMVers talking up each other’s and our own work.

But that’s okay because there are some good short stories involved.

Title: Talk

Author: S.P. Bailey

Publication Info: Popcorn Popping, December 2007

Submitted by: Wm Morris

Why?: “I don’t think that this is Shawn’s best short story even though it’s pretty good and quite funny. But I think it’s worth reading because it addresses a specific element of Mormon culture: giving a Sacrament Meeting talk. And especially because it is in very relatable for those of us who’d love instruct our fellow ward members in the appropriate way to give a talk or bear a testimony. Of course, it doesn’t quite turn out the way the main character in the story hopes.”


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Announcing AMV Projects

When it comes to online writing and discussion, blogging is the best mix, imo, of the formal and the informal, the authored and the conversational. I personally have gotten a lot more out of blogging and reading and commenting on blogs than participating in forums and listservs and online magazine-style publications.

But sometimes there are projects that just don’t lend themselves to the blog post format. And that’s why we’re launching AMV Projects. That’s where you’ll find links to Reading Until Dawn (Tyler and Laura’s online literary journal about the work of Stephenie Meyer) and Popcorn Popping (the Mormon narrative arts magazine that I created with Steve Evans and Brian Gibson) and Mormon Translation (Kent’s wiki-style attempt to outline which LDS books are and should be translated into other languages). The results of the recommendations for LDS book groups are listed there as well.

It’s not intended to be a huge endeavor. But there is still a lot to do in terms of bibliography and resource lists and evaluating the field. For example, once we get something set up for Kent’s idea of a list of out-of-print Mormon lit (and preferably one where people can vote on which titles they’re most interested in) it’ll be linked to from there. And these projects are intended to complement — not compete with — larger efforts like the Mormon Literature Database. A bridge between the more thorough, formal efforts of the database and similar resources and the scatteredness, sifting-through-the-chaff of a Google search.

Of course we’ll still announce all new projects with blogs posts. But if you are ever looking for these projects, I don’t want you to have to wade through the blog posts archive so I’m collecting them on a single page (a link to the page will be added to the top nav bar shortly).

I also welcome comments on other projects you’d like to see — and even help with. If you’d rather not mention them publicly, e-mail us at admin AT montleyvision DOT org.