So, I’ve been reading a series of articles about the possibility of the Great Mormon Novel (the great fantasy of all Mormons since Chaim Potok came to the Jewish scene or since we all fell in love with that dairyman Tevye and his daughter)…some say that the Great Mormon Novel hasn’t happened because it is impossible. Others, perhaps very hopefully, disagree. (Also, A Motley Vision’s response and T&S’s summary). And since I know Chanson is very interested in ex-Mormon literature (she’s even gotten her own) and even has theories about Mormon literature , that got me thinking.
Actually, it was a quote from both articles I had read…as Wallace Stegner told Jerry Johnston of Mormon Times:
the “Great Mormon Novel” would eventually be penned by someone who was born in the church, left the church, then made it “part way” back again. [Stegner] seemed to think that would be a perfect vantage point. Being away from the church would give the writer perspective, while coming part way back would guarantee his empathy for the culture.
So, you can predict what I’m going to ask…
How about it guys? Which one of you is willing to go partway back to pen the Great Mormon novel? After all, you’ve heard it…the task is solely on us. The field is white already to harvest, yadda yadda. And fame and fortune and $$$ await us if we can actually do it.
This brings up the curious ultimate disagreement between Jerry of Mormon Times and Dallas at This Mormon Life…Jerry asserts there can be no Great Mormon novel because:
“A true LDS writer would not want to be on the outside looking in. He wouldn’t want to be defiant.
He’d want to promote the faith.”
Oops. So perhaps we are all prematurely disqualified. It gets better…
Without the blessing of the church, it would never really be a Mormon novel — anymore than “Angels in America” is a Mormon play.
So, truly, Provo or SLC or wherever the authoritative theological and cultural center of the church is must be on deck before you can have a Mormon play. Perhaps there is no hope for a Great Mormon Novel under these stifling constraints.