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Mormonia: stories Paperback – February 7, 2012
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I even wrote to Jeff to reassure me one of the stories didn't happen, because I was so heartbroken and concerned about one of the characters, a Native American of not very high IQ. I couldn't sleep for worry about characters in this book, and I shuddered and repeated exclamations out loud, laughed, opened my mouth wide in shock, shook my head as I marveled over the beauty, clarity, and strength of the language, and came away feeling I'd added to my awareness of human nature, especially male.
I'll always remember the scene where a boy speaks his mind about his questioning of Mormonism, while everyone listens, started. That's almost block-buster intense yet takes place in stillness. The brilliant narrative choices throughout are impressive, the humor delightful, the instructive honesty about growing boy's sexuality appreciated.
This is an accessible book, chronological and cohesive, much like a novel rather than anything like a random collection. I'd recommend it to anyone other than possibly staunch believers.
This should be a best seller, and I expect the next book to go to a major publisher and hit the top of the charts.
From a little-understood sector of American culture come the stories of youngsters growing up in an increasingly connected world, straying from their laid-out paths and delving into each other under the ornate roof of the LDS church. The stories are about tradition, about belonging, about living.
Anyone who's heard the word "Mormon" should check this book out.
Mormonia reads like a transcription of old home movies. Each story captures another segment of a young American religious sect groping its way through the latter half of the 20th century while simultaneously revealing the psychological and emotional lives of the people entrenched in this evolving religious culture. We watch as teenagers and middle-aged parents struggle to build and rebuild family identity in the wake of divorces and shaken faith.
The vision Von Ward creates is a memory of American life that is still in the making; it is of a community of souls with nothing in common except their desire for faith, and even a common faith is hard to come by under the wide Utah sky.
The details of the lives encountered are spelled out with immaculate precision, details that serve only to create chaos within each stifled heart. The enigma of the white salamander that captivates the bleary-eyed hung-over youth of the church is a haunting question that crawls through the entire book; it is a mystery that follows along as a family searches for stability and understanding, generation after generation.
Words always mean more than what they say on the surface, and as I read each story, I was impressed with the commonality of my experience with that of the author, as the action words spun their tales. As each event prodded me forward, I found it amazing that someone could know so many details about my life drama. Of course, good fiction always does this in its attempt to make the story read true.
If you still have doubts about whether these stories would be valuable for you, rest assured that it is well worth your time invested. Although I usually do not re-read most material, I cannot wait to dig into these stories again, to discover what I may have missed on the first adventure through.