Sunday, February 11, 2007

Plugging the Mormon arts...

What I really liked, though, was the way that this story (and the novel generally) brought together some of the many conundrums of growing up Mormon, the interplay between righteousness, repentance, and public image (avoid the very appearance of evil), and, of course, the complicating factor of sex, which is one of the biggest, but most underplayed, factors in growing up Mormon (at least as represented in Mormon art).

Another review of my novel Exmormon has appeared here. I like this review and would encourage you all to read it. ;-)

The one thing that made me hesitate to post a link to this review is the fact that it was written by someone whose work I've discussed on this site. I really enjoy writing book reviews, and I kind of secretly aspire to write book reviews for a real publication one day. I want people to take my reviews seriously, so I don't want to give people the mistaken impression that I just write nice reviews on my blog in hopes that people will say nice things about my book...

My goal when I write a book review is to capture what is interesting and unique about the work. One problem with fiction is that you often don't know if you want to invest your time and money in reading a book until you've already done it. And it's hard to just go by what's popular because different people have different tastes. So rather than saying generic things like "This is the best book ever!!! Everyone should read it!!!" -- which apply to many books and none -- I hope to describe a work in such a way that people can make a good guess as to whether they'd like it or not.

I generally cover what I feel are the weaknesses of a book as well as the strengths, but I rarely write reviews that are wholly negative. If I feel like I can't recommend the book to anyone, then I usually don't review it. Because what's the point? Just to warn people to stay away from it? Most works of Mormon literature have small enough distribution anyway that it's more constructive just to try to steer people towards works they might like.

And naturally on a blog, you're more likely to talk about works that you heard about in blogspace.

On that note, I'd like to mention (not review, just mention) a few other examples of the Mormon arts that have appeared in blog space recently:

Agnostic Mom has just had some of her articles published in the book Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion, which is a new book "for loving and thoughtful parents who wish to raise their children without religion" including essays by Richard Dawkins, Julia Sweeney, Penn Jillette, Mark Twain, Dr. Jean Mercer, Dr. Donald B. Ardell, Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons, and over twenty-five other doctors, educators, psychologists, and secular parents.

Also Sideon and A New Eric have posted some great new fiction here and here.

Then there's a new album I've been listening to lately:

Unlike the other items mentioned here, this isn't a post-Mormon work -- it's a faith-promoting album for Mormons and other Christians.

Why am I listening to it then? you ask...

I received the disc as a gift because the lead artist is my uncle. (Coincidentally, he's also Aerin's uncle and John's.) And what can I say? He's a talented guy!!!

I hope I don't get in trouble with my LDS relatives for mentioning this album on an exmo blog, but it's just that it got a positive review over on the popular LDS music blog Mo' Boy blog, and I wanted to make one little comment about it:

Mo' Boy explains that he likes this album even though it's traditional bluegrass, which is a style that he normally doesn't care for. To me it seems natural though that my uncle would make a spiritual connection through this type of music since our family heritage traces back to the bluegrass region (through my great-grandfather, who joined the LDS church back in the 1920's), more than to the wild west heritage that is typical of multi-generational LDS families.

There are a number of beautifully arranged LDS and other Christian songs on this album. The track I like the best is the first track "You Can Make the Pathway Bright." I'm a little leery of the "Who's on the Lord's Side?" track, not for aesthetic reasons but just because it seems like he's saying "Okay, we're at war, and you're the enemy..." although he probably didn't mean it that way. I hope...

Anyway, if you think you'd be interested in some Mormon inspirational music done in a bluegrass style, please go have a look!!!

10 comments:

JohnR said...

I started writing reviews at MoF, and I've been puzzled about how best to approach them. The best reviews I've read seem to combine unique insights, clever writing, and some way to contextualize the work within its genre, its broader subject or in public life.

I appreciate your advice and reflection (and the opportunity to for me to be self-reflexive on your blog) :P. The only problem with reading this is that now I have to add yet another book to my reading list. (curses!) Even without the impressive contributor list, Parenting Beyond Belief looks worth reading on the basis of its cover.

Exmormon has been on the list for some time and is steadily moving towards the top. I look forward to reviewing it, and I promise to be brutally honest. :)

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey John!!!

It's also cool on your site how you've got some good discussion going about each book (rather than just one-shot reviews as I've been doing).

And I'm glad to hear you aren't planning to just softball my book!!! ;-)

John Hamer said...

I like that review of your book!

And you've convinced me to unwrap Uncle Doug's CD (I got one for Xmas too) and listen to it. Actually, Cousin Rik was just here visiting and plugged it too. I haven't been leery --- I know Doug's talented --- I just hadn't done it yet.

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey John!!!

Yes, definitely listen to it. It's a different style than I've heard him do before.

Also, I was glad to hear the news about Rik's baby doing better!!! Since you say "he was visiting" and not "he is visiting" I hope that means he's out of the hospital and they've all gone home safe and sound!!!

John Hamer said...

They've certainly gone thru the worrisome part. They were staying here until they got up on the wait-list to actually stay in the hotel inside the hospital. But baby Drew should be home in Bowling Green again soon, if he's not there already.

So, I listened to the first track of the CD on my way to the grocery store and back --- I only listen to CDs in the car these days --- and I really liked it. Actually, it really got me thinking that it'd be great to have Doug and his band be regulars in the Sunday meetings of a reformed Mormon congregation in Salt Lake City under the general auspices / organization of the Community of Christ. That'd be nice and energetic and yet still nostalgic and familiar...

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey John!!!

I agree -- I'd be tempted to attend your reformed Mormon congregation with this as the inspirational music!!!

Robert said...

What you fail to take into account is that the entire publishing world works on a quid pro quo economy. :)

Robert

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey Robert!!!

I knew blogspace works that way, but somehow I'd imagined that things were different in the brick-and-mortar world of meatspace... ;-)

The Sinister Porpoise said...

I'm glad there are people who don't reject religious books out of hand simply because they are religious. Tell a good story first...

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey Sinister Porpoise!!!

Exactly -- even if you don't have the same beliefs/worldview as the author, it doesn't mean it's not a good story!!!