Look. I know you. I know you are sick of reading thick tomes of Mormon history and detailed 19th century mission journals and the latest on Book of Mormon apologetics. I know that you want something a little more literary, a little more narrative-y, a little more … fun. But still, you know, high-minded and serious and all that.
And, yes, I know that you were scarred for life by that Weyland novel you read as a teenager, or the Work and the Glory novel your father-in-law insisted you had to read, or that wacky novel by Nephi Anderson that you found on your grandmother’s shelf the summer after your sophomore year at BYU.
Luckily, I’m here to hold your hand and help you wade in a bit or even just dip a toe in. And really — it’s not as scary as you might think.
The following suggestions of title and authors are limited to works that deal explicitly with the Mormon experience and fit solidly into the ‘literary’ tradition. I haven’t included works from any of the genres — specualtive fiction (nope, not even any Orson Scott Card), romance, historical fiction, thriller/action, and young adult — that are a very important part of the field of Mormon letters. The bias is also towards short stories and novels (although some poetry and plays are represented).
And it is by no means an exhaustive list. I’m sure I’ve left out works or authors (in some cases on purpose) that will be part of the Mormon literary canon someday. And, no, I haven’t ready *everything* below (although I’ve read much of it). This is a combination of the results of my reading and what I’ve absorbed over the years as I’ve interacted with the world of Mormon letters.
Angel of the Danube by Alan Rex Mitchell
Falling Toward Heaven and Breeding Leah by John Bennion
Nothing very important and other stories by Bela Petsco
Benediction by Neal Chandler
The Giant Joshua by Maureen Whipple
Authors (read everything by these authors):
Marilyn M. Brown
Clinton F. Larson
Emma Lou Thayne
Harvest: Contemporary Mormon Poetry [anthology]
Irreantum [the literary magazine of the Association for Mormon Letters]
Sunstone [still the most consistent publisher of quality Mormon fiction -- although Irreantum is catching up and provides more diverse voices]
Tending the Garden: Essays on Mormon Literature [the only anthology of Mormon criticism -- although as a whole it disappoints]
Greening Wheat: Fifteen Mormon Short Stories
Bright Angels & Familiars: Contemporary Mormon Stories
And with that shameless bit of hucksterism finally out of the way (you all got off easy — I decided to not do my whole defense-of-Mormon-fiction bit), I bid you farewell. Thanks. It’s been fun. See you around the Mormon arts and letters ghetto. And, yes, down there below the light tan rule as well.