The Bishop’s Wife Reader’s Guide

1.9.15 | | 2 comments

TheBishopsWife-bitty

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Along with the comp ARC Soho sent me was included a slim, half-signature readers guide. Some of this info was promotional, some may be included in the published version. I don’t know. Anyway, it was interesting, but I won’t be talking about everything that was included—I’ve already talked some about marketing angles and you can get sample text and about-the-author stuff anywhere (though its interview with Mette is worth your time).

The only thing I want to discuss is READING GROUP GUIDE QUESTIONS because they, more than anything else, seem to reveal the nonLDS perspective on the LDS aspects of The Bishop’s Wife. For instance the first question seems a bit mystified by the concept (and appeal) of eternal marriage which we tend to think of as one of our top selling points.

Other questions I would simply love to hear the answers to as book groups across the country give this novel a shot. For instance:

“What do you think about the social and religious standards Linda holds herself to? Or the standards her community holds? Do any of them seem absurdly high to you? Do any of them seem to be not high enough?”

Or:

“Do [gender roles] seem more diverse, or less, or about the same as in mainstream American culture?”

Or:

“Is it possible to balance a protective nature with a welcoming, generous one?”

Or:

In terms of Linda’s “25 years being a full-time mom” and her sense that going “‘back to school or [finding] a job . . . would be saying that being a mother wasn’t enough’,” “Do we give the job of motherhood the dignity it deserves?”

I know how factions of Mormons might answer these questions, or how “average” Americans would answer some of them, but how would those same Americans answer these questions filtered through their time with LInda Wallheim? That’s what I really want to know.

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BYU Animation

1.7.15 | | no comments

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For the last ten years or so, I’ve been subjected to BYU Magazine listing all the awards BYU Animation’s been garnering and a stream of BYU Animation students summering in my ward while interning at Pixar or wherever. And don’t forget this! And I’ve seen, like, one of them?

So the good news is that BYU Animation has finally put all their shorts online. Yes, “Lemmings” and “Petshop” and “Noggin” and “Turtles” and “Las Pinatas” and “Pajama Gladiator” and “Kites” and “X-ing” and “Dreamgiver” and “Butcher’d Meats” and “Estefan” and “Chasm” and “Owned.”

Check them out.

LDS.net poetry contest

1.6.15 | | 3 comments

LDS.net is hosting a poetry contest. Submissions “must be themed in Mormon culture, history, or beliefs fitting the tone and purpose of LDS.net”. There are cash prizes for first and second place and the top 15 poems will be published on LDS.net.

I asked for some clarification on the contest and here’s the deal:

  1.  There is no length requirement for the poems (although I would guess that your 20,000 line epic might not do well in the judging).
  2. Previously published poems are not eligible.
  3. LDS.net are asking for 6 months exclusive rights to the poems that they publish as well as the right to continue to publish the poem on their site. In my experience, that’s a very fair approach for a contest like this.

Since this is the first time LDS.net is doing this, I’m not entirely sure what they are looking for, but other than the Mormon Lit Blitz, there aren’t many venues that publish poetry that is on the devotional end of the spectrum and/or LDS-centric.

The deadline to submit is Jan. 31, 2015. For all the details, see the LDS.net poetry contest announcement.

iPlates II

1.5.15 | | one comment

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Remember a couple years ago when I reviewed the first volume of iPlates? Of course you don’t. So here’s a link. But to sum up, it was mostly very good and you should read it. Now, after a successful Kickstarter, Volume II is out and available for your ingestion. And ingest you should.

Although I would recommend [re]reading volume one before reading two. (It took me three quarters of the book to fully remember everyone and get back in the emotional swing of things. But that’s on me. I’ll have to reread them. They’re worth it. And I’ll need to reread them again before three, in order to stay on top of the still-open plot points.)

What’s great about these adaptations is how they veer away from the story-as-in-the-scriptures in order to develop characters and situations, then suddenly they plop you right back into a verse you know. Volume two is, after all, 150 pages covering two chapters in Mosiah, resulting in a pace both frenetic and steady as the characters run to and fro creating new story, while arriving at each next verse right on time.

This volume lacks interstitial art, which I miss, but a higher quantity of pop-culture references (ranging from Princess Bride to Sound of Music), some nice parallelism (the good sister does bad; the bad sister does good—each while trying to do right as they understand it), and the first time I’ve ever leapt for joy at the phrase “A POLITICIAN!”

In short, the book lives up to its claims of providing “witty dialogue” and “dramatic plot turns” within the framework of the story as we know it.

My only regret is that the Kickstarter didn’t quite get high enough to result in color printing. Although I like the black-and-white, the preponderance of night scenes in this volume makes it sometimes hard to tell who is who. And I know my kids would prefer color, them being young that way. But regardless, this volume, like the last, is a success. Let’s wish for many more to come.

Has Mette Won the Race?

1.2.15 | | 5 comments

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I think this accurately captures what we all want:

A novel about active Mormons written by an active Mormon is placed before a national audience where it makes a notably broad impact on discourse.

That first half has precedent: Heaven Knows Why!, SaintsThe Actor and the Housewife, a number of other big-house and indie titles—the second half, I can’t really think of anything that qualifies. But my memory is short and I’ve missed obvious exceptions to sweeping judgments before, so please note my errors below. (At any rate, certainly no such novel has sold in Da Vinci Code numbers.)

But even were there a dozen such novels, we would still feel like the race is yet being run. The latest person to near the finish line is Mette Ivie Anderson with her novel The Bishop’s Wife.

In the posts I’ve posted am posting will post on this novel, I harbor an undercurrent of hope that she will win. Even though I have my complaints and uncertainties regarding minor aspects of the book, I think this is a terrific novel in terms of representing What Am Mormon. Besides, unlike much of the competition, Harrison’s novel is backed up by a serious marketing campaign.

If The Bishop’s Wife is a hit, what sort of conversations might you have with the folks at the rec center? more

Let the 2nd Annual #MormonPoetrySlam Voting Begin!

12.29.14 | | no comments

Now that the busyness of Christmas has passed and the final performance in the 2nd Annual #MormonPoetrySlam has posted (see the event archive here), it’s time to determine the winner of the Audience Choice Award. For your consideration and reviewing pleasure, here are the eighteen entries, listed in order of appearance (you may need to hit “Read next page” at the bottom of the Storify to review all of eighteen).

To get straight to voting, click here. more

Reengaging with Harrison’s first forty-to-sixty
by comparison to Wirkus’s first forty-to-sixty

12.26.14 | | 4 comments

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A few weeks ago I wrote about the opening pages of Mette Ivie Harrison’s The Bishop’s Wife and lamented their overly explicative nature. Now, I made those statements form my long-standing position that we don’t have to explain that much for a nonLDS audience to understand our stories, but Mette wasn’t trying to prove my hypothesis and I can hardly blame her for it. But, happily, the universe has provided another new, nationally released mystery/thriller this December 2014 by an LDS writer about LDS characters, and now I can compare them.

The Bishop's Wife & City of Brick and ShadowWirkus’s novel, like Harrison’s involves everyday Mormons tossed into dangerous circumstances including murder. (Note: I’m writing about City of Brick and Shadow slightly before reaching the halfway point. Also, like Harrison’s book, this was sent to me gratis by its publisher. Also! Like The Bishop’s Wife, I expect to get more than one post out of this novel. So yes, I will be comparing it to Millstone City at some point.)

Wirkus’s protagonists are missionaries serving in a Brazil slum, a location certainly more prone to ugliness than Draper, Utah, but still: it’s not like they put out a PI shingle looking for long-legged dames with murderous lovers to come looking for them.

How they do get into trouble is worth talking about, but all I’m interested in today is how Wirkus’s worldbuilding compares to Harrison’s and, ultimately, why it is, in one humble thopinion, better executed. more

Mette vs Elna

12.19.14 | | 9 comments

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I will be walking down a sidewalk thinking of other things when I remember when Elna Baker said:

I try not to [read what Mormons are saying about me]. . . . Never before in history has there been a time where things increase, where we get more and more aware, where what you create is open to criticism that you have access to. . . . . for the most part I’ve noticed that the reactions are positive, but then as you scroll down and stumble upon reactions that are really strongly negative and . . . you can’t stop it.

And now I want you to compare this to what Mettie Ivie Anderson recently said:

. . . I have rough drafts of several other books in the series, and have planned in my head an arc for Linda’s development as a character up to a certain point. I wanted to get that set in place before the first book came out because I don’t want media attention, and in particular the comments of other Mormons around me, to influence the story I have in mind for her.

I find the similarities and differences here quite striking. Your thoughts?

elna&mette

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