on the cover:
Bright Angels and Familiars anthologizes the full sweep of contemporary Mormon short fiction. Beginning with Virginia Sorensen and Maurine Whipple, the best of Mormondom’s “lost generation” of the 1940s and 1950s, it progresses to Douglas Thayer and Donald Marshall, the first in a new generation of the 1970s and 1980s to produce complete collections of short stories, and Lewis Horne and Levi Peterson, the first to be nationally published and honored. It concludes with such recent and increasingly prominent writers as Phyllis Barber, John Bennion, Orson Scott Card, Neal Chandler, Judith Freeman, Walter Kirn, and Margaret Young.
These writers employ a wide spectrum of styles and themes, from realism to post-modernism, from folklore to satire, from faith to despair. Editor Eugene England has selected what he feels are the best short stories of today’s finest Mormon writers, making Bright Angels and Familiars a definitive compilation.
“Like all good fictions, the best of these stories transcend the rubric under which they are collected—they are, finally, neither contemporary nor Mormon, but simply narratives of that American West which is ultimately not so much a place as a rhetoric, a particular way of talking about the human experience. Good things do come out of Utah, and this book is one of them.” —François Camoin, Professor of English, University of Utah; author, Like Love, But Not Exactly
“This timely collection of well-crafted short stories from the edges of Mormon society enables a variety of glimpses into contemporary Mormon life and celebrates the confluence of cutting-edge Mormon fiction with the mainstream of secular American letters.” —Richard Cracroft, Professor of English, Brigham Young University; co-editor, A Believing People and Twenty-two Young Mormon Writers
“Bright Angels and Familiars is baptism by immersion in Mormon literary waters, a shining collection of distinctive voices. Eugene England’s even-handed and informed introduction illuminates the ‘New Mormon Fiction.’” —William Mulder, Professor of English Emeritus, University of Utah; co-editor, Among the Mormons
about the editor: Eugene England, Professor of English literature at Brigham Young University, is co-editor of Harvest: Contemporary Mormon Poems and author of The Quality of Mercy: Personal Essays on Mormon Experience.
Bright Angels and Familiars
Contemporary Mormon StoriesEugene England, Editor
Salt Lake City
for Virginia Sorensen, 1912-91, and
Maurine Whipple, 1903-92.
They Taught us how.
Cover design by Larry Clarkson.
Cover illustration by Brian Kershisnik.
Interior design by Brent Corcoran.
© 1992 by Signature Books, Inc. All rights reserved.
Signature Books is a registered trademark of Signature Books, Inc.
Composed and printed in the United States of America.
∞ Printed on acid-free paper.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Bright angels and familiars : contemporary Mormon stories / edited by Eugene England.
1. Short stories, American—Mormon authors. 2. Mormons—Fiction. I. England, Eugene.
Ps591.M6B75 1992 813′.010892283—dc20 92-16705 CIP
Introduction: The New Mormon Fiction / Eugene England [see below]
01 – Where Nothing Is Long Ago / Virginia Sorensen
02 – They Did Go Forth / Maurine Whipple
03 – Opening Day / Douglas Thayer
04 – The Week-end / Donald R. Marshall
05 – The People Who Were Not There / Lewis Horne
06 – Sayso or Sense / Eileen Gibbons Kump
07 – Hit the Frolicking, Rippling Brooks / Karen Rosenbaum
08 – Born of the Water / Wayne Jorgensen
09 – The Christianizing of Coburn Heights / Levi S. Peterson
10 – I Am Buzz Gaulter, Left-hander / Darrell Spencer
11 – Windows on the Sea / Linda Sillitoe
12 – Woman Talking to a Cow / Pauline Mortensen
13 – Benediction / Neal Chandler
14 – Lost and Found / Michael Fillerup
15 – Family Attractions / Judith Freeman
16 – At the Talent Show / Phyllis Barber
17 – The Fringe / Orson Scott Card
18 – Dry Niger / M. Shayne Bell
19 – Dust / John Bennion
20 – Outsiders / Margaret Blair Young
21 – Iris Holmes / Sibyl Johnston
22 – Whole Other Bodies / Walter Kirn
Other Notable Mormon Stories and Collections [see below]
IntroductionThe New Mormon Fiction
[xi] Both Mormonism and the short story, as Bruce Jorgensen has noted,1 were revealed and invented in the same few years, about 1820 to 1835. It may in fact be more than mere coincidence that the short, lyrical form of prose narrative and an extremely practical, personal, and narrative-oriented world religion were both created during the height of the Romantic movement, that watershed in human history whose consequences we are still living out.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began with a book, the Book of Mormon, which people who are not LDS consider to be fiction. Many Mormons themselves recognize the personal shaping and influence of point of view on this ancient history as it was edited and translated. However, the first of what could be called Mormon fiction was actually written by Parley P. Pratt in the 1840s. Sections of Pratt’s Autobiography, though edited by others and published in the 1880s, are personal narratives shaped and self-conscious in precisely the way good fiction is, while his “Dialogue Between Joe Smith and the Devil” (New York Herald, 1843) is the first Mormon short story. It is witty, imaginative in setting and dialogue and, though clearly pro-Mormon, aimed at a non-Mormon audience. [xii] Like much other early Mormon literature, it is a combination of apologetic and satire, committed to a perfect Zion and fiercely critical of the perishing Babylon everywhere else.
For the first fifty years of Mormonism, well into the settled Utah period when nationally published novels from classics to popular trash became increasingly available, all fiction was distrusted as at best inferior to “the truth” in history, biography, and sermons. In the 1880s Orson F. Whitney determined to combat the influences of non-Mormon literature and philosophy (especially Christian Science) and spearheaded a movement to produce at home in Utah uplifting fiction and poetry by, for, and in defense of the Saints—what he called “home literature.” Josephine Spencer, Susa Young Gates, and Nephi Anderson produced a large quantity of such home-consumed fiction based more in dogma than experience. However, it was often, as Edward Geary has noted, even in its distinctive Mormon characteristics “only skin deep, masking an underlying vision which is as foreign to the gospel as it is to real life.2
Of this literature only Anderson’s Added Upon continued to be read well into the twentieth century. However, works true to the movement’s ideals and purposes, and thus also known to Mormon literary scholarship as “home literature,” have continued as the mainstay of the most popular Mormon reading: didactic and sentimental stories published in official church publications or by official or semi-official presses.
Beginning with Vardis Fisher’s Children of God in 1939 and continuing with Maurine Whipple, Virginia Sorensen, Samuel Taylor, and a number of others, a new kind of fiction began to be written by and about Mormons and published and praised nationally. These authors have been identified by Geary as Mormondom’s “lost generation.”3 They were similar to the American “lost generation” twenty years earlier in their impatience with their culture and expatriation from their people, and they were largely lost to Mormon audiences and as an influence on Mormon writers.
But not entirely lost. Geary himself remembers as a young student finding Virginia Sorensen on the Mormon fiction shelf of the library at Brigham Young University, being amazed by the first [xiii] good literature he had read that spoke to his own Mormon and rural Utah experience, and then reading down the shelves through the lost treasure of similar writers of the 1940s and 1950s.
The following collection begins with part of that treasure, short works by Sorensen and Whipple that are among the first Mormon stories that can be called contemporary. Sorensen’s “Where Nothing Is Long Ago” (a fictionalized murder over water rights) was published in the New Yorker in 1953 and is a perfect example of the critical but nostalgic and loving stance of the best of lost generation work. Whipple’s “They Did Go Forth,” recently discovered along with a number of her other unpublished stories, is, in its affirmative retelling of a “Three Nephite” folktale, closer than either Sorensen’s work or Whipple’s own The Giant Joshua to the spirit of “home literature.” But both stories belong in this collection because they reflect the skills of the two most influential among the “lost” pioneers of the Mormon fiction which continues to best challenge and move readers and inspire writers.
Coming about twenty years later, Douglas Thayer and Donald R. Marshall were the pioneers of a second generation. As Jorgensen discovered,4 there were a number of “late expatriates” besides Sorensen publishing Mormon stories in a variety of national and regional publications from about 1940 to 1965, including Ray B. West, Jr., Wayne Carver, and most notably David L. Wright. Wright produced excellent poetry and drama and published five stories in literary quarterlies before his sudden death at age forty-five in 1967. None of these writers is included here. None gained a Mormon readership or influenced younger Mormon writers as did Thayer and Marshall, mainly because there were no Mormon outlets for the new fiction. Such outlets were provided in the 1960s with the founding of Brigham Young University Studies and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.
Thayer and Marshall benefitted in their pioneering efforts from two separate influences: they studied modern British and American writers, such as Joyce, Hemingway, Porter, and Flannery O’Connor, and they learned new approaches to Mormon history and culture from the nationally published writers of the lost generation. [xiv] They also had access to a Mormon audience, critics, and outlets in an expanding intellectual community. They benefitted especially from Clinton Larson, a poet and dramatist who in the 1950s and 1960s became the first Mormon writer to combine excellent contemporary training and natural talent with an informed and passionate faith that he made central to his work.
With The Rummage Sale (1973) Marshall produced a collection of stories which took rural Mormon culture for granted as a context for apparently humorous but also deeply serious examinations of religious and moral conflicts. “The Week-end,” published here, shows his skill with point-of-view, perhaps the fiction writer’s chief formal tool.
Thayer did not publish his first collection, Under the Cottonwoods, until 1977, but he started writing his unique Mormon stories earlier than Marshall, in the early 1960s, and his influence on other Mormon writers has been perhaps wider and continued longer. As John Bennion has said, “He was the first to solve the major problem. He taught us how to explore the interior life, with its conflicts of doubt and faith, goodness and evil, of a believing Mormon.” Here I have chosen a story from his first collection, “Opening Day,” which shows Thayer’s characteristic strategy of an extended journey of the mind based on experience in nature.
Jorgensen has shown that Thayer’s strategy both follows closely that of the Romantic poets’ “Great Odes” and also undermines Romantic assumptions.5 “Opening Day” and all of the stories in Thayer’s recent collection, Mr. Wahlquist in Yellowstone, especially ”The Redtail Hawk,” confront in a uniquely Mormon way the basic Romantic anxiety: their heartfelt attraction to life in, even union with, nature—which conflicts with their moral understanding that pursuing such union is only possible in unconsciousness, loss of language, and even death.6
Others were learning from Marshall and Thayer and from the best contemporary American writers. Karen Rosenbaum studied at Stanford University in the 1960s with Wallace Stegner and has regularly published wry, delicate stories of relationships complicated by the quest for faith. Bruce Jorgensen (who uses his middle name, [xv] Wayne, for his fiction) studied at Brigham Young University and Cornell University and has written a few meticulously-crafted stories based firmly in his Mormon experience.
Lewis Horne, raised in Arizona and settled in mid-Canada, began writing stories about his Mormon youth and has been published nationally and honored in Best American Short Stories, 1974 and Prize Stories, 1987: The O. Henry Awards. Eileen Gibbons Kump wrote a connected series of stories about a second-generation pioneer woman (Bread and Milk, 1979), which shows remarkable psychological and historical insight. “Sayso or Sense,” included here, is perhaps the first Mormon story to deal directly with feminist issues. Meanwhile Gladys Farmer (Elders and Sisters, 1977) and Bela Petsco (Nothing Very Important and Other Stories, 1979) produced collections of missionary stories, which like Kump’s were connected into a longer narrative by common central characters.
In the 1980s these beginnings produced a cascade of individual works and then collections, published through the independent Mormon and regional publications and presses and increasingly through national outlets as well. Among a group of what Jorgensen in 1983 called “Up-and-Comers,” Levi S. Peterson achieved the major breakthrough, becoming the first of this second generation of contemporary Mormon writers to publish a collection nationally (The Canyons of Grace, in the prestigious University of Illinois short fiction series, 1982). He continued Thayer’s work on interior Mormon male landscape and used Thayer’s sophisticated first-person narration, which played the moral and spiritual naivete of the young protagonist against his more mature narrating self, and he also took on major Mormon theological and historical issues. Peterson has continued Marshall’s use of rural Mormonism for humor and pathos but, in a story like “The Christianizing of Coburn Heights,” took Mormon humor into new realms of pain and despair. In his latest collection, Night Soil (1990), Peterson has secured his place as the most prolific author of high-quality contemporary Mormon short fiction.
But he has close competition. In the 1970s a young Mormon [xvi] playwright, Orson Scott Card, left the Mormon literary scene to become one of America’s most widely read and critically acclaimed science fiction writers. He first won the top two prizes, the Hugo and Nebula, for Ender’s Game (1985), then made an unprecedented second sweep of the same prizes the next year with Speaker for the Dead. Meanwhile he began writing Mormon science fiction stories (collected in The Folk of the Fringe, 1989) and Mormon fantasy. His “Alvin Maker” series is based on a figure much like Joseph Smith, growing up to be a prophet in an imaginary alternative America (the first novel’s first section, “Hatrack River,” was published as a story in 1987 and won the World Fantasy Award).
Pauline Mortensen has used the rural Mormon stereotype to make witty, hip, exquisitely vocalized tales (especially “Woman Talking to a Cow,” included here, from Back Before the World Turned Nasty, 1989). Neal Chandler (Benediction, 1989) writes about Mormon experience outside the traditional Wasatch front, which tends to be overshadowed by ghosts of pioneer history and present authority. Like Levi Peterson he has pioneered the use of humor (“Benediction”) and folk mythology (“The Last Nephite”).
Darrell Spencer, at Brigham Young University, is the contemporary Mormon writer perhaps least focused on Mormon characters and culture. He writes post-modernist, occasionally minimalist, stories, published widely in prestigious “little” magazines and collected in A Woman Packing a Pistol (1987). He shows what this approach can do within a Mormon context in “I am Buzz Gaulter, Left-hander.” Phyllis Barber has also made her reputation mainly outside Mormon literary circles, with The School of Love (1990) and And the Desert Shall Blossom (1991). How I Got Cultured: A Nevada Memoir won the Associated Writing Programs prize in 1991 and was published by the University of Georgia Press in 1992.
Judith Freeman grew up in Utah and has written stories about female characters who live there, as in Family Attractions: Stories (1987) or, as in her novel, The Chinchilla Farm (1989), begin their odysseys there. She has a particularly understated, affecting style, evident in her story here and especially in her novel Set for Life (1991), which takes place in Southern Idaho. Michael Fillerup has [xvii] explored in a number of stories (see Visions and Other Stories, 1990) the relationship of Mormonism to native American peoples (such as “Lost and Found” in this volume). Linda Sillitoe has tended to focus (in Windows on the Sea and Other Stories, 1989) on the interior life of contemporary Mormon women. But Fillerup in “The Renovation of Marsha Fletcher” has written persuasively from a Mormon woman’s perspective, and Sillitoe in “Coyote Tracks” has written persuasively of the confrontation of Mormon anglo and native American world views.
Most of the writers included in this collection that I have discussed to this point were born before 1950 and all are now established—by virtue of their influence, their published collections which continue to be read, or their consistent output of contributions to Mormon letters—as part of a developing canon of Mormon fiction. I have also chosen from a younger group in order to show some new directions contemporary Mormon fiction is taking.
One of the youngest, Walter Kim, has already in his late twenties achieved remarkable success nationally with his first collection, My Hard Bargain (1990). A convert to Mormonism, Kim writes about growing up in the church (“Whole Other Bodies” is based on his family’s conversion) and more general stories about life on farms in Wisconsin. Kim began publishing in national magazines such as Esquire (whose editors thought his Mormon stories had to be changed to a Utah setting to be believable). John Bennion, who studied under contemporary masters such as Donald Barthelme at Houston, recently published his first collection, Breeding Leah and Other Stories (1991), from which I have chosen “Dust,” a story written in a fashionable contemporary style that is also intriguingly Mormon. Margaret Young has published two novels and is beginning to publish stories nationally as well as in the independent Mormon press (her first collection Elegies and Lovesongs, from which I have chosen “Outsiders,” appeared in 1992).
M. Shayne Bell, much influenced by Orson Scott Card, spent 1991-92 on a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant, writing science fiction stories. Stories such as the one included here, “Dry Niger,” are Mormon in no overt way but are recognizably so in [xviii] their moral values and vision concerning the last days of the earth. Sibyl Johnston has been working, supported by a Fellowship in Literature at Radcliffe’s Bunting Institute, on an experimental, nearly autobiographical novel, part of which, “Iris Holmes,” was published as a story in the anthology Hot Type (1988) and is included here.
So what makes these stories recognizably Mormon as well as contemporary? And what does it matter? It matters, I think, because Mormonism is a new religious tradition with a unique theology and a powerful ethnic identity and mythic vision of the kind that should produce good and characteristic literature. Writers reveal their fundamental values and beliefs, their integrity and compassion or meanness and blindness, as well as their way of seeing the world, in all the decisions, small and large, that go into form and content and finally make the novel or story or essay believable and moving.7 Flannery O’Connor put the case this way: “It makes a great difference to the look of a novel whether its author believes that the world came late into being and continues to come by a creative act of God, or whether he believes that the world and ourselves are the product of a cosmic accident. It makes a great difference to his novel whether he believes that we are created in God’s image, or whether he believes we create God in our own. It makes a great difference whether he believes that our wills are free, or bound like those of the other animals.”8
I believe authors’ beliefs, inevitably affecting the nature and quality of their writing, also make a great deal of difference to readers—to what we are able to get out of a story. So I have chosen stories that are not only valuable because they are skillful, the product of natural gifts, careful training or apprenticeship, and good understanding of the traditions of classic short stories and contemporary innovations. They are also valuable because they are written by people with a recognizably Mormon background which leads them through their stories to express, reveal, develop, and challenge the shape of Mormon beliefs.
Mormonism holds that individual identity is uncreated and indestructible, that free choice is absolutely necessary if we are to develop human potential, and that yielding one’s individuality to the [xix] sociality of marriage and larger communities is equally essential. Furthermore Mormonism insists that divinity continues to reveal such things to prophets and further understanding of them to all people. One crucial way such insight can come, I believe, is through the telling of stories, and the stories here are such revelations.
How can these stories be revelations, some might ask, if they describe doubt, despair, failure, and sin? Morality—and faith—in fiction are not a matter simply of content nor even a question of whether a matter is presented in a “balanced” way. They have much more to do with the shape of the author’s own belief and moral vision, which inevitably show through to a careful reader. The stories I have chosen occasionally describe, in precise and relevant language, troubled thoughts and human frailties which are necessary parts of a whole picture. In each case, that picture is a new vision of life, filtered and energized through a believing, moral intelligence as well as a gifted and disciplined artistic sensibility.
Mormonism integrates an almost materialistic affirmation of worldly realities with a yearning to reach beyond the world. We make our homes here and imagine heaven as much like this place—but constantly sense that our true home is elsewhere. Most of these stories are exceptionally accurate and thorough in describing the surfaces of the world we know. Many also evoke visions and epiphanies which seem related to another world of the spirit. Thus the title reminds us that the best Mormon fiction concerns both bright angels of spiritual reality and the familiar, beautiful world in which we live and create our being.
This collection, of course, is indebted to the pioneering work in Mormon letters of earlier anthologists and critics. In the very first anthology of Mormon literature, A Believing People (1974), editors Richard H. Cracroft and Neal E. Lambert, who had also begun, at Brigham Young University, the first classes in Mormon literature, provided an excellent sampling of nineteenth-century fiction and the best work of the lost generation—as well as samples of the early work of Thayer and Marshall and Kump. That same year they produced a look at the future in Twenty-Two Young Mormon Writers.
Then, just as the explosion of the 1980s was getting under way, [xx] Levi Peterson edited a collection, Greening Wheat: Fifteen Mormon Stories (1983), of newly written works that revealed the range that was developing in the second generation—fifteen excellent and mature writers when ten years before there had only been two or three. Now, less than another ten years along, the growth has continued, requiring difficult selection from among dozens of good writers, many of whom are increasingly published nationally as well as in the growing number of selective independent Mormon and regional periodicals like Brigham Young University Studies, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Exponent II, Sunstone, and Wasatch Review International, which is devoted entirely to Mormon literature; and presses like Aspen Books, Bookcraft, Covenant Communications, Deseret Book, Signature Books, and the University of Utah Press. I regret that all the fine contemporary Mormon story writers could not be included here. Look for them in the list of “Other Notable Mormon Stories” at the end of this book (which Bruce Jorgensen helped to compile) and in future periodicals and press catalogues.
7. Bruce W. Jorgensen, ”’Herself Moving Beside Herself, Out There Alone': The Shape of Mormon Belief in Virginia Sorensen’s The Evening and the Morning,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 13 (Fall 1980): 45-47.
8. Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners, eds. Sally and Robert Fitzgerald (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1969), 156-57.
Notes on the Authors and Acknowledgments
Phyllis Barber teaches in the Vermont College M.F.A. Writing Program. She won Utah Arts Council first prizes in both the novel and the short story in 1988; won the Associated Writing Programs Award Series in Creative Nonfiction in 1991; and has served as a panelist choosing literary fellowships for the National Endowment for the Arts. Her books include a collection of stories, The School of Love (University of Utah Press, 1990); a novel, And the Desert Shall Blossom (University of Utah Press, 1991; Signature Books, 1993); How I Got Cultured: A Nevada Memoir (University of Georgia Press, 1992); and two books for children. She lives in Colorado with her husband, David H. Barber, has three sons, and is a professional musician. “At the Talent Show” first appeared in The Missouri Review (Winter 1991).
M. Shayne Bell won first place in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest (second quarter, 1986); a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for 1991; and second prize for his short story, “The King’s Kiss,” in the Utah Arts Council Contest for 1992. He has published a novel, Nicoji (Baen Books, 1991), and is currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah, writing and editing a collection of Mormon science fiction to be called Washed by a Wave of Wind: Stories from the Corridor (Signature Books, forthcoming). “Dry Niger” was originally published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (August 1990); was voted an honorable mention in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Eighth Annual Collection (1991); and will be reprinted in an anthology of current science fiction, Future Earths: Under African Skies.
John Bennion teaches writing at Brigham Young University and lives in Springville, Utah, with his wife, Karla, and their four children. He won the Utah Arts Council first prize in the short story in 1987 and the Association for Mormon Letters short story prize in 1988. His story “Burial Pool” was included in Christmas for the World (Aspen Books, 1991). “Dust” first appeared in Best of the West (1989) and was reprinted in his first collection, Breeding Leah and Other Stories (Signature Books, 1991).
Orson Scott Card lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, and is the owner of Hatrack River Publications, which publishes LDS fiction. His novels include Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, both of which won Hugo and Nebula awards, as well as the Mormon novels, Saints (Tom Doherty Associates, 1988) and Lost Boys (HarperCollins, 1992). He is the author of two series in progress: “The Tales of Alvin Maker” (latest Prentice Alvin, TOR, 1989) and “Homecoming” (the first, The Memory of Earth, TOR, 1992). He is also the author of Saintspeak: The Mormon Dictionary (Orion Books, 1981). “The Fringe” is from The Folk of the Fringe (Phantasia Press, 1989), his collection of Mormon science fiction stories.
Neal Chandler “shuffles papers and sometimes teaches writing at Cleveland State University in Ohio” (where he is actually director of Creative Writing). He is the author of a play, Appeal to a Lower Court, published in Sunstone (December 1990). “Benediction” won the Dialogue Award in fiction for 1984 and is the title story of his first collection, published by the University of Utah Press in 1989. Permission to reprint the story here is granted by the publisher.
Michael Fillerup lives with his wife Rebecca and their four children in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he is director of ESl/Bilingual Education for the public school system. He has published Visions and Other Stories (Signature Books, 1990) and is working on a novel, “The River, The Rock.” “Lost and Found” was cited by the Association for Mormon letters as the best Mormon short story for 1991 and appeared in Christmas for the World (Aspen Books, 1991).
Judith Freeman has published two novels, The Chinchilla Farm (W. W. Norton, 1989) and Set for Life (W. W. Norton, 1991). She is at work, with photographer Tina Burney, on a book about India, based on a recent trip funded by the Guggenheim Foundation. “Family Attractions” is from Family Attractions, Stories, © 1988 by Judith Freeman, and is used here by permission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Books, USA, Inc.
Lewis Horne teaches in the department of English at the University of Saskatchewan, is a widely published poet, and has had stories reprinted in Best American Short Stories, 1974 and Prize Stories, 1987: The O. Henry Awards. His first collection, “The Scorpion Fire,” will be published by Signature Books in 1993. “The People Who Were Not There” first appeared in Kansas Quarterly (Summer 1973).
Sibyl Johnston holds an M.A. in creative writing from Boston University and was a 1990-91 Fellow in Literature at Radcliffe’s Bunting Institute. She grew up in Illinois, now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but considers Utah her home. Her story, “Jessie and Louise,” was included in Greening Wheat: Fifteen Mormon Stories (Orion Books, 1983). “Iris Holmes” was published in the Macmillan anthology, Hot Type, in 1988 and forms part of a forthcoming novel.
Wayne Jorgensen writes poetry as well as fiction under the alias Bruce W. Jorgensen. He teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University and writes criticism. He is now at work on a book on Reynolds Price. His story, “A Song for One Still Voice,” was published in the Ensign (March 1979) and also appeared in Greening Wheat: Fifteen Mormon Stories (Orion Books, 1983). “Born of the Water” won a first place in the Sunstone Fiction Contest, 1980, and was published by Sunstone (January/February 1980).
Walter Kirn grew up in the Midwest and Arizona and is now a full-time writer living in Montana. His first novel, She Needed Me, was published by Simon and Schuster in 1992. “Whole Other Bodies” is from his first collection of stories, My Hard Bargain (Knopf, 1990), which won the Association for Mormon Letters short story award in 1990 and was published in paperback by Washington Square Press in 1992.
Eileen Gibbons Kump lives in St. Joseph, Missouri. Her story “Everncere” was first published in the Ensign (August 1979) and then in Greening Wheat: Fifteen Mormon Stories (Orion Books, 1983). “The Ladder” won the Sunstone Fiction Contest in 1981 and was published in Sunstone (January-February 1981). “Sayso or Sense,” included here, first appeared in Brigham Young University Studies (Fall 1974), and was included in her collection Bread and Milk (Brigham Young University Press, 1979).
Donald R. Marshall, professor of humanities at Brigham Young University, has won awards in painting, photography, composing, directing, and set design; his most recent writing awards were first place in the 1988 Utah Arts Council Contest and first place in the 1989 Deseret Book Children’s Book Contest. His story, “Lavender Blue,” was published in Sunstone (March-April 1981) and in Greening Wheat: Fifteen Mormon Stories (Orion Books, 1983). He has published a collection of stories, Frost in the Orchard (Brigham Young University Press, 1977; Deseret Book, 1985); a novel, Zinnie Stokes, Zinnie Stokes (Deseret Book, 1984); and a children’s book, Enchantress of Crumbledown (Deseret Book, 1990). “The Week-end,” which was also included in A Believing People (Brigham Young University Press, 1974), is from his first collection, The Rummage Sale (Heirloom Publications, 1972; republished by Peregrine Smith in 1975 and by Deseret Book in 1985).
Pauline Mortensen holds a Ph.D. in writing from the University of Utah and is a professional technical writer in Orem, Utah. “Woman Talking to a Cow” is from her collection, Back Before the World Turned Nasty (University of Arkansas Press, 1989), which won the Utah Arts Council first prize for short stories in 1987, its Publication Prize the following year, and the Association for Mormon Letters short story award in 1989. The story is reprinted here by permission of the publisher, © 1989.
Levi S. Peterson is professor of English at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. He has published a novel, The Backslider (Signature Books, 1986); a biography, Juanita Brooks, Mormon Woman Historian (University of Utah Press, 1988); and a second collection of stories, Night Soil (Signature Books, 1990). He is at work on a second novel and a collection of “wilderness essays.” “The Christianizing of Coburn Heights” is from his first collection, The Canyons of Grace, which won the Illinois Short Fiction Award, was published by the University of Illinois Press in 1982, and was published in paperback by Signature Books in 1985.
Karen Rosenbaum received an M.A. in creative writing from Stanford University and has been teaching English at Ohlone Community College in Fremont, California. She lives in Kensington, California, with her husband, Ben McClinton. Her story, “Low Tide” was published in Sunstone (September-October 1980) and chosen for Greening Wheat (Orion Books, 1983). She won first place in Dialogue‘s short story contest in 1987. “Hit the Frolicking, Rippling Brooks” was published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Fall 1978).
Linda Sillitoe is a professional writer and editor living in Salt Lake City. She has published a novel, Sideways to the Sun (Signature Books, 1987) and co-authored Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders (Signature Books, 1988). Her story, “Four Walls and An Empty Door,” was published in Greening Wheat: Fifteen Mormon Stories (Orion Books, 1983). Her first collection of poems, “Crazy For Living,” will be published by Signature Books, and her ethnobiography of Clifford Duncan, “One Voice Rising,” by the University of Utah Press. “Windows on the Sea” is the title story of her collection published by Signature Books in 1989.
Virginia Sorensen’s eight adult novels and seven children’s books include the Newberry Medal winner, Miracles on Maple Hill (Harcourt Brace, 1957); a Child Study Award winner, Plain Girl (Harcourt Brace, 1955); and two Mormon novels, A Little Lower than the Angels (Knopf, 1942) and The Evening and the Morning (Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1949). Her story, “The Talking Stick,” was chosen for the Prize Stories, 1948: The O. Henry Awards, and she was awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships. She was working on an autobiography when she died in December 1991. “Where Nothing Is Long Ago” is from her collection Where Nothing Is Long Ago: Memories of a Utah Childhood (Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1963).
Darrell Spencer teaches writing at Brigham Young University. His story, “Song and Dance,” won second prize in the 1990 Utah Arts Council Contest, and “Union Business” won the 1991 Lawrence Foundation Award for the Short Story. “I Am Buzz Gaulter, Left-hander,” is from his first collection, Woman Packing a Pistol (Dragon Gate, 1987), which won the Association for Mormon Letters award. He has finished a second collection, “Our Secret’s Out,” being considered for publication, and is at work on a novel, “Nasty Town.”
Douglas Thayer lives in Provo, Utah, with his Wife, Donlu, and teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University. He has published a novel, Summer Fire (Orion Books, 1983); two collections of stories, Under the Cottonwoods and Other Mormon Stories (Frankson Books, 1977; Signature Books, 1984), and Mr. Wahlquist in Yellowstone and Other Stories (Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 1989); and is at work on a collection of personal essays and a novel. His story, “The Redtail Hawk,” published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Summer 1970) and in Under the Cottonwoods, also appeared in Christmas for the World (Aspen Books, 1991). “Opening Day,” which won the Dialogue Award in fiction for 1969, was first published in Dialogue (Spring, 1990) and then in Under the Cottonwoods.
Maurine Whipple won the Houghton Mifflin literary Prize for 1938 to help her complete her novel The Giant Joshua, which appeared in 1941. In the 1940s she published a number of essays and stories about Mormon country and a visitor’s guide to the state, This Is the Place: Utah (Knopf, 1945). She died in St. George, Utah, in March 1992. “They Did Go Forth,” discovered in Whipple’s papers, was first published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Winter 1991), and will appear in Maurine Whipple: The Lost Works, eds. Veda Tebbs Hale and Lavina Fielding Anderson (Aspen Books, forthcoming). Used here by permission.
Margaret Blair Young is a writing instructor at Brigham Young University and has published two novels, House without Walls (Deseret Book, 1991) and Salvador (Aspen Books, 1992). She won first prizes in both the short story and book sections of the Utah Arts Council Contest in 1989 and its Publication Prize in 1990 for her collection of stories, Elegies and Lovesongs (University of Idaho Press, 1992). She is married to Bruce Young and has four children. “Outsiders” first appeared in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Spring 1991).
Other Notable Mormon Stories and Collections
AML Prize: Annual award in short story of the Association for Mormon Letters.
BYU Studies: Brigham Young University Studies
Christian Values Winner: Writing contest sponsored by the Center for Christian Values in Literature at Brigham Young University.
Christmas: Christmas for the World: A Gift to the Children. Edited by Curtis Taylor and Stan Zenk. Salt Lake City: Aspen Books, 1991.
Dialogue: Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought
Dialogue Award: Annual Dialogue Writing Award in fiction.
Greening Wheat: Greening Wheat: Fifteen Mormon Short Stories. Edited by Levi S. Peterson. Midvale, UT: Orion Books, 1983.
RMR: Rocky Mountain Review
Rocky Mountain Reader: Rocky Mountain Reader. Edited by Ray B. West, Jr. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1946.
Sunstone Contest: Annual Sunstone Fiction Contest, sponsored by the children of D. K. and Brookie Brown.
Twenty-two: Twenty-two Young Mormon Writers. Edited by Neal E. Lambert and Richard H. Cracroft. Provo, UT: Communications Workshop, 1975.
Utah Arts Council: Annual prize in short story of the Original Writing Contest of the Utah Arts Council.
Washed by a Wave: Washed by a Wave of Wind: Stories from the Corridor. Edited by M. Shayne Bell. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1993.
Allen, Penny. “Dandelions.” Ensign, Mar. 1978.
_____. “Representation.” Sunstone, Nov. 1991.
Allen, Rex. “Grandpa.” Mountainwest, Nov. 1977.
Anderson, Paris. “You: A Missionary Story.” Sunstone, Sept. 1987.
Anderson, Tory C. “After Dad Died.” New Era, Apr. 1991.
Arrington, Chris Rigby. “Wheat Is for Man.” Exponent II, Dec. 1976.
Bailey, Alice Morrey. “Until Death Only.” RMR, Fall 1939.
Baker, Virginia Ellen. “Rachel’s Wedding.” First place in L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest (1989, 3d quarter), published in Writers of the Future, Vol. 5 (Bridge Publications, 1989).
_____. “On the Last Day, God Created.” Forthcoming in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and in Washed by a Wave.
Ballif, Arta Romney. “A Wedding Night.” A Christian Values Winner; Literature and Belief, 1982.
Barnhurst, Kevin. “A Mormon Fairy Tale: The Elder and the Convert Lady.” Exponent II, Spring 1981.
Bell, Elouise. “The Meeting.” Only When I Laugh (Signature Books, 1990).
_____. “A Generous Heart.” Christmas, 1991.
Bezzant, Pat. “Finale.” Forthcoming in Washed by a Wave.
Black, Nancy. “A Marshmallow Santa for the New Born King.” Christmas, 1991.
Brown, Marilyn. ”The Happiness Bird.” Dialogue, Summer 1967.
Cannon, Ann Edwards. “Separate Prayers.” Honorable Mention, Sunstone Contest, 1981; Sunstone, Nov.-Dec. 1981.
_____. ”The Quilt.” Dialogue, Spring 1982.
Cannon, Blanche. ”The Promise.” RMR, Summer 1945.
Carver, Wayne. “A Man of Fortune Greeting Heirs.” Furioso, Summer 1950.
_____. ”The Country Behind.” Furioso, Spring 1953.
_____. “The Price of Deer.” Carleton Miscellany, Summer 1960.
_____. “Heroes Are Born.” Esquire, Nov. 1961.
_____. “Benvenuto ad Anzio.” Carleton Miscellany, Fall 1963.
_____. “With Voice of Joy and Praise.” Western Humanities Review, Fall 1964; reprinted in Greening Wheat.
_____. “A Child’s Christmas in Utah.” Carleton Miscellany, Winter 1966; reprinted in Dialogue, Autumn 1972.
Cassity, Kevin. ”The Age-Old Problem of Who.” Greening Wheat.
Christmas, R. A. “I Want a Prayer, Dad.” Stories Southwest, edited by A. Wilber Stevens (Prescott College Press, 1973).
_____. “Another Angel.” Dialogue, Summer 1981; AML Prize in 1981 and reprinted in Greening Wheat.
Clark, Dennis. “Answer to Prayer.” Greening Wheat, 1983.
Clark, Marden J. Morgan Triumphs (Orion Books, 1984).
Coles, Christie Lund. “Victory Girl.” RMR, Fall 1944.
_____. “The Tumbleweed.” Mountainwest, Mar. 1976.
_____. “The Tomato Cure.” Mountainwest, Apr. 1979.
Doty, Ann. “I Just Don’t Think Anymore that It’s Such a Big Deal—A Story about Clayboy and Jeanie.” Twenty-two, 1975.
England, Karin Anderson. “Miscarriage.” Dialogue, Fall 1992.
Evenson, Brian. “Amparo.” Inscape, 1989.
Farmer, Gladys Clark. Elders and Sisters (Seagull Books, 1977).
Farnsworth, Kent A. “Counterpoint.” Greening Wheat, 1983.
_____. “A Season and a Time.” Twenty-two, 1975.
Fisher, Vardis. “Charivari.” RMR, Spring-Summer 1939; reprinted in Ray B. West, Jr., ed., Rocky Mountain Stories (Sage Books, 1941).
Geary, Edward A. “Jack-Mormons.” Dialogue, Spring 1989.
Hafen, Lyman. “Epsom Salts.” First prize, Utah Arts Council, 1991.
Harker, Herbert. “Mr. Gregory.” Christmas, 1991.
Hawkins, Lisa Bolin. “Muddy, Rising Waters.” First place, Sunstone Contest, 1991; forthcoming in Sunstone.
Hawkinson, Sharon M. Only Strangers Travel (Bookcraft, 1984).
Howe, Susan. “Getting to Disneyland.” First place, Sunstone Contest, 1988; Sunstone, Aug. 1990.
Hughes, Dean. “Sun on the Snow.” Christmas, 1991.
Hurd, Jerrie. “Aunt Betsy.” Dialogue, Autumn 1984.
Jolley, Clifton Holt. “Feeding the Fox: A Parable.” Dialogue, Winter 1983.
Jones, Helen Walker. “Hot Leather and Chains.” Mountainwest, July 1979.
_____. “The Snowdrift, the Swan.” Dialogue, Autumn 1983.
_____. “After the Harvest.” First prize, Utah Arts Council, 1984.
_____. “As Winter Comes On.” Dialogue, Winter 1985.
_____. “Going Through the List.” Sunstone, Apr. 1989.
_____. “The Six-Buck Fortune.” First place, Dialogue Award, 1990; Dialogue, Fall 1990.
Kalpakian, Laura. Dark Continent and Other Stories (Penguin Books, 1989).
Kidd, Kathryn H. “Voucher and the Christmas Wars.” Christmas, 1991.
Knowles, Mary. “Rosalie the Italian Bast.” Mountainwest, June 1978.
Lake, Claudette. “Peculiar Ways.” A Christian Values Winner; Literature and Belief, 1982.
Lane, Elizabeth. “The Pretending Place.” Mountainwest, Mar. 1978.
Larson, Lance. “Sleeping Out.” Inscape, Winter 1987.
Larson, Lynne. “Liberty Bolt!” Mountainwest, Jul. 1976.
_____. “The Bishop.” Mountainwest, Aug. 1977.
_____. “Original Sin.” Mountainwest, May 1978; reprinted in Greening Wheat, 1983.
_____. “Bawdy and Soul.” Second place, Sunstone Contest, 1982; Sunstone, Mar.-Apr. 1982.
Littke, Lael. “The Chastity Gum.” Dialogue, Fall 1990.
McDaniel, Mary Catherine. “A Little of What You Fancy.” Third place (4th quarter, 1986) in the L. Ron Hubbard contest and published in Writers of the Future, Vol. 3, ed. Algis Budrys (Bridge Publication, 1987).
Miller, Rob Hollis. ”The Morns are Meeker than They Were.” Exponent II, 1988.
[Molen], Patricia Hart. “A Ride in the Dark.” Exponent II, Spring 1976.
_____. ”The Growler and Sandra House.” Sunstone, Mar.-Apr. 1981.
_____. “At the Heart of the Labyrinth.” BYU Studies, Summer 1981.
_____. ”The Black Door.” Dialogue, Fall 1985.
Moon, Harold K. ”They Is Gold in Them Hills.” Mountainwest, Apr. 1976.
_____. “From the Cypress Grove.” Mountainwest, Feb. 1979.
_____. Possible Dreams (Brigham Young University, 1982).
Morris, Larry. “The Rock Crusher.” Sunstone, Mar.-Apr. 1979.
Munk, Margaret R. “Searching.” Dialogue, Winter 1981.
_____. “A Proposal.” Honorable mention, Sunstone Contest, 1984; Sunstone, Sept. 1985.
Nichols, Julie. “Pennyroyal, Cohosh, Rue.” Sunstone, May 1988.
Nicita, Carolyn. “Mechanical Assistance” and “Recycling.” Both forthcoming in Tomorrow: Speculative Fiction Magazine.
Peterson, Joseph. “Yellow Dust.” Sunstone, Sep.-Oct. 1979; reprinted in Greening Wheat, 1983.
_____. “A Ford Mustang.” Dialogue, Summer 1980.
_____. ”The Genealogy of Della B. Paulsen.” First place, Sunstone Contest, 1982; Sunstone, Jan.-Feb. 1982.
_____. “The Sure Word.” Sunstone, Jan.- Feb. 1984.
Petsco, Bela. “The Mustard Seed.” Twenty-two, 1975.
_____. Nothing Very Important and Other Stories (Meservydale Publishing Co., 1979).
Rogers, Kristin Smart. “Looking for God.” Second place, Sunstone Contest, 1990; Sunstone, Nov. 1991.
Rogers, Thomas F. “Heart of the Fathers.” Dialogue, Summer 1991.
Rozema, Mark. “Eye of the Beholder.” Literature and Belief, 1992.
Rubilar, Lisa Madsen de. “Pure Thin Bones.” Dialogue, Winter 1989.
_____. “Songs.” Dialogue, Fall 1990.
Russell, Marla Zollinger. “What Wondering Brings.” Second place, Sunstone Contest, 1981; Sunstone, Jan.-Feb. 1981.
Saderup, Dian. “A Blessing of Duty.” Sunstone, May-Jun. 1979.
_____. “Out There.” First place, Sunstone Contest, 1983; Sunstone, Jan.-Apr. 1983.
_____. “Turning.” Dialogue, Spring 1987.
_____. “Earl.” The New Era, Oct. 1989.
Sealy, Shirley. Beauty in Being (Butterfly Publishing, 1980).
Shelline, Stewart A. “When the Rains Came Down the River.” First place, Sunstone Contest, 1986; Sunstone, Jan. 1988.
_____. “The Stream Winner.” First prize, Utah Arts Council, 1986.
Smallwood, Susan Dean. “Gifts.” Christmas, 1991.
Snell, George. “Young Love.” RMR, Winter 1940.
_____. “Letter to Elsie.” Ray B. West, Jr., ed., Rocky Mountain Stories (Sage Books, 1941).
_____. “Smoke in the Snow.” RMR, Autumn 1945; reprinted in Rocky Mountain Reader, 1946.
Solomon, Michael. “The Sheet of Our True Lord Jesus.” First place, Sunstone Contest, 1984; Sunstone, Jan. 1985.
Stewart, Ora Pate. “The Tramp,” Texas Quarterly, Summer 1968.
Thornley, Diann. “A Distant Legacy.” The Leading Edge: Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, no. 6 (Fall 1983).
_____. “Thunderbird’s Egg.” Forthcoming in Washed by a Wave.
Thurman, Richard Young. “The Credit Line.” Prize Stories of 1957: The O. Henry Awards.
_____. “Not Another Word.” New Yorker, 25 May 1957; reprinted in Best American Short Stories, 1958 and in Ken Macrorie, Telling Writing (Hayden Books, 1970).
Thurston, Jarvis. “The One and Only Appearance of Jeez Christ on Sun Mountain.” RMR, Spring 1945; reprinted in Rocky Mountain Reader, 1946.
_____. “The Cross,” Western Review, Winter 1959; reprinted in J. Golden Taylor, ed., Great Short Stories of the West, Vol. 2 (Ballantine Books, 1971).
West, Ray B., Jr. ”The Blue Spring.” Interim, 1946; reprinted in Rocky Mountain Reader, 1946.
_____. “The Ascent.” Prize Stories, 1948: The O. Henry Awards.
_____. “The Last of the Grizzly Bears,” Epoch, Fall 1950; reprinted in Baxter Hathaway, ed., Stories from Epoch (Cornell University Press, 1966), and in J. Golden Taylor, ed., Great Short Stories of the West, Vol. 2 (Ballantine Books, 1971).
Weyland, Jack. First Day of Forever, and Other Stories of LDS Youth (Horizon Publishing, 1981).
_____. Punch and Cookies Forever (Horizon Publishers, 1981).
_____. “Dallas Will Still Be There on Thursday.” Ensign, June 1987.
_____. A Small Light in the Darkness (Deseret Book, 1987).
_____. “The Three Wise Guys.” Christmas, 1991.
Witham, Craig. “Love Daddy Love.” Second place, Sunstone Contest, 1985; Sunstone, Apr. 1987.
Wolverton, Dave. “On My Way to Paradise.” First place (4th quarter, 1986) and winner of the Grand Prize in the L. Ron Hubbard Contest, published in Writers of the Future, vol. 3, ed. Algis Budrys (Bridge Publications, 1987).
_____. “Skyfish.” Inscape, Fall 1986.
_____. “The Smiling Man.” Inscape, Winter 1987.
_____. “Wheatfields, Beyond.” Tomorrow: Speculative Fiction Magazine, Dec. 1992; forthcoming in Washed by a Wave.
Wright, David L. “Speak Ye Tenderly of Kings.” Inland, Spring 1960.
_____. “A Measure of Contentment.” The Humanist, Jul.-Aug. 1960.
_____. “A Summer in the Country.” Mutiny, Fall 1960; reprinted in Best Articles and Stories, Mar. 1961, and in Sunstone, Fall 1976.
_____. ”The Hawk.” Arizona Quarterly, Winter 1960; reprinted in Greening Wheat, 1983.
_____. “Mice Men and Principles.” Mutiny, Fall-Winter 1961-62.
_____. “Of Pleasures and Palaces” (1961). Dialogue, Winter 1990.