Week in Review for November 11–15
In News, Blogs, and Books
An article by Mark Oppenheimer in the New York Times discussed Mormon fiction and the tendency toward genre writing, especially centered around fantasy and science fiction. Oppenheimer also notes that while other cultures, Jewish and African American, for example, have produced great works of literature, Mormonism has yet to go through a literary renaissance. Oppenheimer, through interviews with former LDS authors like Brian Evenson, suggests Mormon culture struggles to deal with serious issues in an honest way, and that art is often messy, complicated, and sometimes grim and tragic, all things Mormons like to avoid.
Oppenheimer’s article spawned a number of Mormon responses, from the predictable to the insightful. Sunstone editor and independent author Stephen Carter argued that Mormons have long neglected their best source of myth to mine: The Book of Mormon. Carter has written iPlates, a graphic novel rooted in Book of Mormon stories. On the Times & Seasons blog, writer Nathaniel Givens echoes Oppenheimer’s arguments, noting Mormon culture’s “penchant for ruthless optimism.” But he also defends Mormonism as a fertile ground for true literature, with unique traits to bolster fiction, such as the faith’s atheological nature.
As if to bolster Mark Oppenheimer’s claims of Mormon simplicity in literature, a new app, developed in Salt Lake City by a group of brothers, promises to censor violence, profanity, and sex in ebooks. Titled PureMedia, the app is essentially a CleanFlix for digital books developed by the Hicken brothers after they were “embarrassed” by a sex scene in a book.
—News updates by John Hatch, acquisitions editor