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The Scholar of Moab Paperback – November 8, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Torrey House Press (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1937226026
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937226022
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #660,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


“Steven Peck has imagined a world ever-so-slightly tweaked from this real one, but—well, why wouldn’t conjoined twins have an independent consciousness, bumblebees be more dependent on faith than wings, and Einstein sing German nursery rhymes? The Scholar of Moab explores the otherworld of nature, imagination, and mind.”
—Brooke Williams, Halflives: Reconciling Work and Wildness

"It’s satire of the best sort: biting what it loves, snuggling up to what it hates."
—Scott Abbott, Professor of Philosophy and Humanities, Director of Integrated Studies, Utah Valley University

"Peck moves easily from the lyrical to the grotesque, and sets his multi-voiced tale in the ideal place: Moab, Utah--where red rocks and surprising arches provide the ideal backdrop for anything in or out of the world, including space ships and kidnapped babies."
—Margaret Blair Young, President: Association for Mormon Letters

"Peck convincingly merges the genre of magical realism with American West fiction by invoking the power of personal testimony—not his own, but by presenting the recorded testimony of his characters in letters, journals, poetry, and interview transcripts. Using these disparate voices, Peck concocts a strange and tragicomic brew of naivety, philosophy, faith, discovery, and loss."
—Blair Dee Hodges, Standing on the Promises, The Association for Mormon Letters

About the Author

Steven L. Peck is an evolutionary ecologist at Brigham Young University where he teaches the philosophy of biology. His scientific work has appeared in numerous publications. As the Renaissance Man he is,Steve has won a fistful of awards for both his poetry and science fiction work.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Read it and maybe you will know what I mean.
George Handley
The diversity of voices that contribute to the novel make the characters more compelling and adds a level of complexity to the tale that mirrors real life.
Erin
The Scholar of Moab, by Steven L. Peck, was a really fun book to read.
RockinTut

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By George Handley on December 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Scholar of Moab is a hilarious, otherwordly, beautifully strange, and strangely familiar novel, like nothing I have ever read before. In my fruitless search for an adequate comparison, I could only say it's philosophy meets satire meets poetry meets cosmology meets absurdity. For all of its indirectness and fantastical wit, it conveys a seriousness of tone about life in a small western town and about the strangeness of human existence with more humanity, humor, and wonder than most anything else in print. It had no right to survive its outsize ambition, but it does, wonderfully. Read it and maybe you will know what I mean.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Blair Dee Hodges on November 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
Please read this book. Because it is hilarious, because it is tragic, because it is magic.

It doesn't read like your typical novel. The story is told by an unnamed "Redactor" who finds a crazy collection of documents in some old curmudgeon's trailer buried under a "mountain of filth and garbage." These documents include a journal by a dead fellow named Hyrum Thayne, a scientific article on "bumblebee faith," a photograph of cowboy conjoined twins, letters and poetry by a nature lover named Dora Tanner, leftovers from a dismantled Webster's dictionary, and other odds and ends. From this hodgepodge the Redactor pieces together clues about Hyrum Thayne's rise to scholarly heights, and his ultimately explosive death. (Not a spoiler, don't worry.)

The main document of the story is Hyrum Thayne's journal. I laughed out loud so many times as Hyrum expressed his frustrations in his own terribly-misspelled words. The other documents are striking in their individuality. How did Peck manage to capture so many diverse voices so convincingly? For instance, letters from the Babcock's(the conjoined twins) relate their cowboy exploits, as well as their eventual Ivy league education. One brother slowly slips into mental illness while the other helplessly witnesses his brother's descent.

This is the most engaging Mormon novel I've read since Levi Peterson's "The Backslider," though its approach is radically different. Peck convincingly merges the genres of magical realism and American West fiction by invoking the power of personal testimony--not his own, but those of his characters through their letters, journals, poetry, and interview transcripts. Using these disparate voices, Peck concocts a strange and tragicomic brew of naivety, philosophy, faith, discovery, and loss.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jacob on February 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
Steven Peck's The Scholar of Moab is quite unlike nearly anything else you might read in contemporary fiction. It is perhaps *the* American novel that captures the essence of the Neo-Baroque tropes of hybridity and syncretism, blending science fiction, magical realism, western themes, religion, philosophy, neurophysiology, historiography, romance, poetry (and probably other genres that I didn't have an eye for). Perhaps the best description of the novel is "fullness"--not simply in the scope of of motifs covered, but in the overall aesthetic, the sense that it is brimming with the variegated life of a literary ecological world.

Just as appealing is that the novel is prototypically Mormon. It subtly captures the real world materialism of Mormon thought and practice without elevating Mormon themes in any explicit or overtly recognizable way. The main character and some of his inner circle are Mormons, yet Peck deploys Mormonism through the very structure of his narrative delivery, through a redactor who recovers long-buried documents and "translates" them by assembling them in such a way that multiple stories are revealed. This immanent yet all-encompassing material deployment of the quintessential American religion makes The Scholar of Moab perhaps the epitome of the Mormon novel. Its saturated encyclopedism claims the essence of the Neo-Baroque in American literature. The novel is both thoroughly enjoyable and more than capable of being a worthy object of American literary studies.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Corinne Sweet on February 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
I was turned on to Steven Peck by a friend who recommended "A Short Stay in Hell," which turned out to be one of the strangest, most haunting books I've ever read. So I eagerly snapped up "The Scholar of Moab" and read it hungrily. It's not like his earlier work, but he pushes his same magical realism sensibilities into twisted, fascinating new directions. The book was full of surprises, brilliant use of language, and delightful characters. It defies categorization, but if Confederacy of Dunces, X Files, The Book of Mormon, John McPhee and Louis L'Amour had a wild orgy that resulted in a two-headed lovechild, it would be this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kristin L. Matthews on February 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
A surprisingly charming book that examines the complexities of "beingness." Why surprising? Because one could easily dismiss the novel as merely a "regional" text exploring quaint folk in southern Utah; however, to do so would be to miss the smart ways in which Peck uses these particular settings and people to examine challenging existential questions. Indeed, the text could be set elsewhere and still query what constitutes a "self" -- consciousness? community? creation? Yet, at the same time, the wildness found in this southern Utah landscape allows Peck to map out a parallel psychological wildness and openness for his characters and readers. In other hands, this unique cast of characters -- a would-be-scholar, a two headed cowboy, a romantic poet, townspeople looking for Communist conspirators -- could easily slip into a gimmicky "look how quirky these small town folk are" farce. What makes Peck's novel and these characters resonate is Peck's gift for voice. Never do the characters ring false, flat, or forced. These complex characters too work to represent different forms of "beingness" without becoming representative or "stock." Furthermore, the structure of the text -- a redactor's collection of documents compiled in order to comprehend the "scholar of Moab" and one particular event he experiences -- also mimics the ways in which beingness is comprised of different narratives and modes of interpreting such. The novel's language is lovely, alternately wistful, tragic, ethereal, and hilarious. Ultimately, epistemological, ontological, aesthetic, and material questions of beingness arise in this text because the characters, landscape, and structure of the text make the reader more conscious of her own understanding of beingness, or lack thereof.Read more ›
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More About the Author

Steve Peck is an evolutionary ecologist who teaches History and Philosophy of Science and Bioethics. His publishing history includes lots of scientific work (40+ articles) including articles in American Naturalist, Newsweek, Evolution, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Biological Theory, Agriculture and Human Values, Biology & Philosophy, and an edited volume on environmental stewardship.

He is the author of 'The Scholar of Moab,' a finalist for the Montaigne Medal, published by Torrey House Press, and the author of 'A Short Stay in Hell, published by Strange Violins Editions. He has a juvenile fantasy called the Rift of Ryme, to be published in June 2012 by Cedar Fort Press.

This year he was nominated for the 2011 Science Fiction Poetry Association's Rhysling Award for the poem, "The five known sutras of mechanical man," published in Tales of the Talisman.

He received first place in the Warp and Weave Science Fiction Competition and received Honorable Mention in the 2011 Brookie and D.K. Brown Fiction Contest

His short stories have been included in Daily Science Fiction, H.M.S. Beagle, and Warp and Weave, and his science fiction novella, Let the Mountains Tremble for the Adoni have Fallen, was published in October by Peculiar Press. Poetry by Peck has appeared in Bellowing Ark, Dialogue, Glyphs III, Irreantum, Pedestal Magazine, Red Rock Review, Tales of the Talisman, Victorian Violet Press, and Wilderness Interface Zone. A chapbook of Peck's poetry, Flyfishing in Middle Earth, was published by the American Tolkien Society. A selection of his poetry was included in the anthology, Fire in the Pasture. Peck was selected as the second-place winner in the 2011 Eugene England Memorial Essay Contest.

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