Why Mormon writers thrive in the fiction genre, according to a New York Times columnist

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  • Joan Watson TWIN FALLS, ID
    Nov. 14, 2013 10:38 a.m.

    I have read few modern day books of fiction that equal that of George Elliot's 'Middlemarch'. Mary Ann Evans wrote under the pen name of George Elliot. 'Middlemarch' is a literary masterpiece that is, in my opinion, sets a standard that few authors have equaled.

  • kishkumen American Fork, UT
    Nov. 13, 2013 2:33 p.m.

    I agree that LDS authors have excelled in writing intriguing and optimistic fiction. I think the Book of Mormon is a great example from the 19th century. Joseph Smith and the other contributing authors created a highly fascinating world with amazing stories that promote hope. I suppose the end of the Jaredite and Nephite civilizations wasn't too optimistic nor was the fact that God cursed the Lamanites. However, there are numerous other stories within that are very uplifting.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Nov. 13, 2013 1:38 p.m.

    @Twin Lights – “Such a leading comment is not quite the same as leaving something unsaid.”

    It was mostly tongue-in-cheek…

    I agree with the rest of your comments which somewhat affirmed my point – that honest, relatable and not overly preachy fiction can be a huge positive in allowing us (kids especially) to see the effects of bad choices in realistic non-glamorous ways.

    And don’t even get me started on the vapid nonsense that passes for entertainment these days - whenever I come across Keeping Up With The Knuckleheads (et al) I’m just baffled at the apparent disconnect between wealth & talent.

    Regarding your comment about religion passing on what works, I think that’s right. Of course for millions (and growing) like me, religion asks too high a price to belong – no, not the desire to sin but the requirement to believe things that for us are akin to believing in Santa Claus.

    Buddhism is about the only religion I know that gets around this issue, but for various reasons I don’t see us all becoming Buddhists anytime soon.

  • Mom of 8 Hyrum, UT
    Nov. 13, 2013 1:36 p.m.

    As a wannabe (Mormon) writer, I've grown tired with the cynicism of so much literature out there.

    No, I don't believe everything should be cheery and happy--no one's life if like that. But I appreciate stories that show the struggle, that demonstrate the growth, that promise a happy ending because at my core I believe everyone *can* eventually have a happy ending.

    I write what I want to read, because I can't find enough authors out there who will. So many books nowadays pander to the status quo and predictable plot.

    I think Mormon authors frequently (certainly not always, but frequently) aren't afraid to step away from the norm to create something unique and worthwhile. Otherwise, what's the point of writing?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Nov. 13, 2013 12:53 p.m.

    Fiction, by its very nature, is a fertile field for one whose inclination is to explore. But having had a religious upbringing can make it inhibiting or even downright terrifying for aspiring writers struggling to say what they really wants to say. They’re not the first. Countless others have been that road before. If you want to write something that’s challenging or feels like you might be entering forbidden territory, don’t be afraid to go for it.

    It’s just a story. Be bold and unexpected inspirations will come to you.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Nov. 13, 2013 12:44 p.m.

    Tyler D,

    Such a leading comment is not quite the same as leaving something unsaid.

    But let's move on.

    Yes, many adults and some kids are capable of connecting the dots. But that power is not evenly held in our little world. Time and time again folks go with what has been shown to have devastating effects on others in the blithe assumption that it will not be so for them.

    Whatever else religion may or may not be, it often serves as a repository for what works by experience.

    As to the exceptions - I think the problem is that some of the exceptions are among the most visible in our culture. In popular entertainment there seems to be a large cadre of folks who make a living showing off their bad choices while simultaneously enjoying wealth and fame. They are probably not enjoying happiness but, in a culture that strongly correlates happiness with money and being famous, many do not see any difference and so go on to mimic them.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Nov. 13, 2013 11:37 a.m.

    There seems to be a far more obvious answer for why Mormon (or any devoutly religious) writers would thrive in the fiction genre, but I’ll let it go unsaid…

    That (not) said, the world could sure use more stories that depict virtuous actions, but there seems to be an assumption alive in our culture today that doing so makes one judgmental and by extension, intolerant.

    But it doesn’t have to work that way – simply depicting real life will show time and again that bad choices and unethical actions generally (there’s always exceptions) lead to unhappy lives.

    Just write that – no need to pontificate or be sanctimonious or even a prude. Adults (and even kids) are fully capable of connecting the dots.

  • ThornBirds St.George, Utah
    Nov. 13, 2013 10:51 a.m.

    Seemed so revolutionary that a Mormon writer had such great success writing about Vampires.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Nov. 13, 2013 9:49 a.m.

    Low risk genre literature steers clear of controversy, of which Mormons have their share from the start. It's a safe place for Mormon writers to hone their craft. A solid foundation is a base from future generations of more daring Mormon writers may stretch themselves in a way few are presently willing to attempt.