If I keep forgetting about the new Mormon Lit Blitz contest, then I have to believe a lot of people are having the same issue.
Here’s the pitch as taken from the Mormon Artist website (written by James Goldberg): more
I suddenly thought to start tweeting #MoLit / #MormonLit stuff during #ldsconf. I wasn’t consistent in my hashtags and not all my examples were ideal and I tended to repeat some works too many times and I wasn’t above being self-promotional, but I wasn’t totally dissatisfied with the results.
I’m putting them here mostly to encourage others to do better.
Great Mormon novels about the poor to read in your book club the month #theHolland visits: Salvador / Blair Young Millstone City / Bailey
— Theric Jepson (@thmazing) October 4, 2014
If you’re in California or Arizona, Ben Abbott’s Questions of the Heart is only halfway through it’s tour and you’re still in its future.
Don’t miss it!
The Osher Studio
2055 Center Street
1531 Montery Street
Here are their physical details:
They’re pink (if you can see them—and only the person with the Thinker token can see them).
They are repelled by gravity.
They “inhabit . . . and move through solid substances, just as humans can move only through gaseous or liquid environments” (314).
So why are they here? Based on the evidence, Maisie hypothesizes that they
“. . . [take] over all the human body’s functions. After people are possessed by the aliens, it looks like they mostly spend their time eating and seeking out adrenaline rushes.”
“Seriously?” said Luther.
“They’re here to enjoy physical bodies,” said Wilder.
“I think if the ship isn’t nearby to suck them back in, the ghostmen would keep floating right out of Earth’s atmosphere into space’s vacuum, where they’d be helpless. That’s where we want them.” (324)
But sending that third to Outer Darkness isn’t just a fun Easter egg. Some more serious and immediate questions come out of it. For instance, when Maisie speaks with one of the ghosts through its human avatar, it poses an interesting—and brutally stated—question:
“So . . . you’re hijacking humans in order to eat apples.”
“You’re destroying people, taking away lives.”
“Now, now, all we take is your shell.”
“But what if the flesh of our bodies is the extent of our matter? What if you take our bodies and there’s nothing left?”
He seemed to have never considered the possibility. “Why would such a creature matter at all?” (309)
This basic theo/philosophical question haunts Maisie through the rest of the novel. When she risks her death, she simply does not know if there will be anything left of her should she fail:
I was too conscious of my mortality, I guess. . . . Who knew if there was a part of me that never ended, like the ghostmen themselves? I’d . . . found [outer] space. Maybe there wasn’t anything else to find. (372)
Later, plummeting back to Earth and certain that she will die:
My stomach hurt . . . my head pained to cracking, my muscles so tense I wondered if my skin would split open. . . . All I knew was fear and panic.
. . . Even battling terror like being strangled in slow motion, I wanted to experience it. This was life, these few minutes were all that I had left. I didn’t want to die halfway down. I wanted every single second I had left. (379)
Maisie does not know if she will “be sucked up into a God-touched place . . . . Or . . . simply cease to be” and that feels like “a catastrophic hole in [her] education” (380), but she has decided that regardless, this moment of mortality matters and that every single second she has left is worthy of her full attention and shall give her experience—which shall be for her good—whether she lasts another ten seconds or the fulness of eternity.
Of course, Mormon cosmology posits that ETERNITY is the accurate description, but we are a practical people who feel that the temporal world is important and thus we should experience each ten seconds with the same vigor with which we imagine eventual rewards.
Something like Maisie Brown.
====Shannon Hales :: Dangerous====
Just how dangerous is Shannon Hale? (intro)
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Just how dangerous is Shannon Hale? (post)
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A note on Mormon cosmology in Shannon Hale’s Dangerous
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Yesterday, I talked about Shannon Hale’s apparent attempt to make a mainstream success of a novel staring a character who was not “white, male, able-bodied, straight, not too young . . . and not too old“—you know, what we all expect a protagonist to be here in these United States. We discussed the basics of the plot and posed this question:
Does Dangerous succeed at making us identify with Maisie Danger Brown, its home-schooled, geeky, one-armed, half-Paraguayan female protagonist?
Sure. Of course it does. Humans are humans, whatever, no problem. Maisie is fine and we, excepting Klansmen, like her as much as we would a white male two-armed protagonist.
But what’s interesting is how much the novel hedges its bets on our openmindedness—it seems to be a little lacking in confidence that the audience will accept her. more
NOTE: This is a work of cultural and literary criticism, and not a review. Please adjust your expectations accordingly.
When I was in the rewrite stage of Dangerous several years ago, a Smart Person read the first 50 pages and immediately let me know her concerns. She said, “Your main character is unrelatable. You made her a home schooled, science geeky, one-armed, half-Paraguayan.” Until this person said all that I had never thought it. I mean, of course I knew knew those things about her, but I’d never strung together all those adjectives in my mind, maybe because the decisions about her character came about piece-by-piece while writing the story, not all at once. . . more
You average Mormon artist gets married younger than the average artist and starts having children sooner as well. (I don’t have stats to back that up, but anecdotal evidence justifies assuming this is as true of Mormon artists as of Mormons in general.) One significant downside to accepting adult responsibility immediately upon becoming an adult is that responsibility takes up a lot of time. Time that could be spent creating art. (I’m about a quarter through a novel dealing with that issue, actually. At times, it feels a little personal.)
One of my favorite contemporary painters (and, full disclosure, friend of mine), Denise Gasser is currently shopping to galleries art that deals directly with this conflict between being a Responsible Mormon and being an Artist. From her statement: more
. . . I hope to write another [novel] fairly soon.
It is bound to be a failure,
every book is a failure,
but I do know with some clarity
what kind of book I want to write.
- – – George Orwell
By titling my Whitney recap as I have, I don’t wish to suggest the five books in the General Category sucked. After all, the novel Orwell was planning to write was Nineteen Eighty-four, an enormous success by about every criteria I can imagine (outside cheerfulness—huge bust on the cheerfulness front). Rather, as I revisit the books I’ve read and reviewed, I want to think about what they suggest about us as a writing community in 2014. I’ll cover them in the order they are listed on the Whitney site which, coincidentally, is the same order I ranked them in.