AML Awards 1990 – 1999

1999 Mary Clyde Survival Rates Short Fiction
1999 Anne Perry Tathea Novel
1999 Martha Beck Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic Personal Essay
1999 Eric Samuelsen The Way We’re Wired Drama [Produced at Brigham Young University, May 1999.]
1999 Neal A. Maxwell One More Strain of Praise Devotional Literature
1998 Jack Harrell Vernal Promises Marilyn Brown Novel Award
1998 Alex Caldiero Various Atmospheres: Poems and Drawings Poetry
1998 Helen Walker Jones “The Six-Buck Fortune” Short Fiction
1998 Martine Bates The Taker’s Key Young Adult Literature
1998 Clark L. Kidd A Convert’s Guide to Mormon Life Devotional Literature
1998 Dean Hughes Far from Home Novel
1998 Tom Plummer Eating Chocolates and Dancing in the Kitchen: Sketches of Marriage and Family Personal Essay
1997 Richard Dilworth Rust Feasting on the Word: The Literary Testimony of the Book of Mormon Criticism
1997 Eric Samuelsen Gadianton Drama
1997 Holly Welker “What You Walk Away From” Personal Essay
1997 Susan Elizabeth Howe Stone Spirits Poetry
1997 Brady Udall “Beautiful Places” Short Fiction
1997 Chieko N. Okazaki Sanctuary Devotional Literature
1996 Marian Robertson Wilson Leroy Robertson: Music Giant from the Rockies Biography
1996 Bruce W. Jorgensen “Heritage of Hostility: The Mormon Attack on Fiction in the 19th Century”; “Roughly One of the R’s: Some Notes of a BYU Fiction Teacher (with a Pedantry of Endnotes)” Criticism
1996 Rick Walton You Don’t Always Get What You Hope For Children’s Literature
1996 Pat Bezzant Angie Young Adult Literature
1996 Paul Rawlins No Lie Like Love: Stories Short Fiction
1996 Kenneth O. Kemp “3/4-inch Marine Ply” Personal Essay
1996 Judith Freeman A Desert of Pure Feeling Novel
1996 Tim Slover Joyful Noise Drama [Read at BYU, December 1996.]
1996 Leslie Norris Collected Poems Poetry
1995 Tim Slover A March Tale Drama
1995 Maureen Ursenbach Beecher The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow Biography
1995 Michael Austin “How to Be a Mormo-American; Or, The Function of Mormon Criticism at the Present Time” Criticism
1995 Tory C. Anderson “Epiphany” Short Fiction
1995 Marden J. Clark “Snows” Poetry
1995 Terry Tempest Williams Desert Quartet Personal Essay
1995 Louise Plummer The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman Young Adult Literature
1995 Mack Hedges Last Buckaroo Novel
1994 William G. Hartley My Best for the Kingdom: John Lowe Butler, A Mormon Frontiersman Biography My Best for the Kingdom, William G. Hartley’s recent biography of Mormon convert John Lowe Butler (1808-1860), has all the trappings of historical treatise: forty-nine pages of notes, an index, and over five hundred items of bibliography. But it differs from the historical norm in its text: with verve and dash, Hartley bodies forth one of Mormonism’s ordinary men living an extraordinary life. His lively, almost colloquial style, matching the never-quiet life of an unexceptional pioneer, makes us participants in the everyday pioneer Mormon experience. For this he deserves a prize in life writing. Writing a life is an impossibility comprised half of documentary evidence, half of intuition, and half of devil-may-care daring with words. Quoting generously from a ninety-nine page handwritten autobiography, Hartley brings his subject into our world, lets us know him, his fears, hopes, disappointments, failings, and faith. When near the end of his short life Butler proclaims “I have done my best to help roll forth the Kingdom of God,” we understand what that meant, and mourn his untimely death. Hartley has made him our neighbor, friend, brother. We applaud his achievement.
1994 Gideon O. Burton Criticism Passion for the question of whether there is a Mormon literature has been easy to engender. Sometimes it has been accompanied by intelligence and wit. In “Towards a Mormon Criticism: Should We Ask ‘Is This Mormon Literature?’” Gideon Burton makes a major, restorative contribution to the discussion, an intelligent, witty, and impassioned contribution. Gideon’s gift is to have gone between the horns of the dilemma articulated by Richard Cracroft and Bruce Jorgensen and felt by all concerned for a long time. By shifting the discussion of Latter-day Saint criticism from its focus on the content of literature to the way in which literature is conceived and received, Gideon makes us stop, take stock, and begin again. Because of his essay, we see the problem differently. For Gideon Burton, Restoration—the act of Restoration—is the heart of Mormon literature, and the eye of Mormon criticism.
1994 Richard D. Poll “A Liahona Latter-day Saint” Personal Essay In early 1994 the distinguished career of Richard D. Poll, historian, professor, writer, husband and friend, came full circle. His Liahona/Iron-rod dichotomy, borrowed from the Book of Mormon, had entered the lexicon of Mormon thought almost 30 years earlier in his landmark essay “What the Church Means to People Like Me” (Dialogue 2:4, Winter 1967). His “Pillars of My Faith” sermon in Sunstone called for committed LDS worshipers and writers to join a mighty Christian chorus “in which almost all the singers hear the dissonant sounds of the alternate voices as polyphonic enrichment of the message of the gospel music.” For people like him, “neither dogmatic fundamentalism nor dogmatic humanism provides convincing answers to life’s most basic questions.” He defined history as “human strivings to discover divine realities.” Like Paul, Richard Poll lived his life as part of the leaven that “leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9), offering his Liahona questioning in the spirit of “charity, humility, persistence.” In a time when men and women are being called sinners for a word (or many words); when the terms “alternate” and “dissident” are being redefined as sinister; when some seek apostasy, while others have apostasy thrust upon them, Richard Poll’s calm, reasoned, compassionate voice rings with a clarity that will live on in our hearts and minds.
1994 Pamela Porter Hamblin “Magi” Poetry Pamela Hamblin combines an easy-flowing vernacular diction with common images, the language of everyday speech with figures so commonplace that they seem to rise of their own accord from the subject. But by the end of her poem “Magi” they build up to an uncommon and surprisingly acute penetration into an interpretation we had not thought of, had not seen coming—and yet one so apt and true that we berate ourselves for not having seen it from the start, because the clues were in plain sight like signboards. The conclusion comes truly with “The Shock of Recognition”; we know it is true when confronted with it, but lacked the courage to face the wrenching needed to pry us out of our pleasant ruts. The poem hammers home that out of the familiar story of the birth at Bethlehem and the death at Calvary springs a painful and unfamiliar birth and death for each of us: the death of an old and sterile way of life and the birth of a new way that demands a contrition that “will break our hearts” (the words the poem ends with). The poem has an easiness of tone that leads us comfortably to a density that is shockingly uncomfortable. “Magi” is all that a poem should be.
1994 Dean Hughes The Trophy Young Adult Literature Books for young readers fall mostly into one of two categories: those which adults love and think children should love; and those which children actually love. That leaves a special category of books that charm both children and adults. The Trophy belongs in this group. Ten-year-old Danny Williams is in his first year on the basketball team. As he works hard to improve his game, he hopes that his father will notice and approve. Long ago, Danny’s father won a gold trophy for playing basketball, but that was before he started drinking. Now he is an alcoholic mechanic who spends more time nurturing his roses than his sons. From the beginning, when Danny plays his first minutes for the Bulldogs, children will feel the tension in Hughes’s vivid, fast-aced basketball scenes. Children will also believe through his characterization—the realistic dialogue and honest childlike perceptions—that Danny could be their neighbor or friend. At the conclusion of the story, as Danny and his father begin a tentative new relationship, children will be touched by Hughes’s hopeful ending. Adults will appreciate these same qualities in this book—but for different reasons. They’ll enjoy his taut storytelling style apparent in the carefully-constructed action scenes. They’ll value his multi-faceted characters. Finally, adults will applaud his poignant conclusion—a hopeful yet realistic ending with no promise of permanent change. In The Trophy, Dean Hughes creates a fine story for young readers, one that adults will choose for children, one that children will choose for themselves.
1994 Eric Samuelsen “Accommodations: a Play in Three Acts” Drama On the frontier where Mormon ideals meet the everyday world of men and women, all of us need a place to stay or go, retreat to or take a stand. But Eric Samuelsen knows that borders can be confusing and densely populated. They teem with competing individuals, emotions, values, and spirits—in circumstances as profound and common as birth and death, with drives as crass but inescapable as greed and lust—that infringe upon, thwart, or even displace us in our quest for some sanctuary. “Accommodations” presents a compelling dramatic story crafted with characters and forms we comfortably recognize and can relate to. A carefully constructed, masterfully worded prose-poetic meditation on embattled spaces unfolds, replete with symbolic touchstone diction, references, and events: real estate developments, hotel rooms, a progressively more cluttered set, old rooms, others’ rooms, and no room—as well as, more ominously, burglaries, powerlifting machines, courtrooms, broken fences and shattered vows. In a place where love and brutality must co-exist, what compromises are acceptable, even essential, and at what point do they become manipulations or betrayals of ourselves or others? “Accommodations” unflinchingly confronts these dilemmas, “warning” us (in Samuelsen’s word) of dangers, hinting at possibilities, and, wisely, despite a hopeful ending, guaranteeing no solutions.
1994 Wayne Jorgensen “Who Tarzan, Who Jane” Short Fiction Marriage plays a central role in Mormon culture and religion, yet the complexities of marital union remain relatively unexplored in contemporary Mormon letters. Wayne Jorgensen charts new literary territory in his poignant, playful depiction of married love, “Who Jane, Who Tarzan.” Told from the perspective of Jensen, a forty-ish academic with a buxom wife—Broad Bottom Betty Barrett—the story narrates Jensen’s jealousy of Betty’s handsome cowboy kissing-cousin. Jorgensen masterfully creates a narrator’s voice that races, halts, sputters and tumbles on, mimicking the workings of Jensen’s own consciousness as he wrestles with self-doubt and sexual desire. Mormon fiction involving sex—what little there is of it—typically focuses on illicit desire and congress; Jorgensen, conversely, details the perplexities and allure of lawful intercourse. Sensuous in its imagery, frankly carnal in its themes, “Who Jane, Who Tarzan” celebrates “immortal beauty’s bodily moment” within a conventional Mormon marriage. Jorgensen, in perfectly controlled prose, returns the corporeal body to its rightful—its central—place within our chaste culture and in so doing champions husbands and wives as lovers, no small achievement for a Mormon writer.
1994 Anne Perry The Sins of the Wolf Novel Anne Perry’s Victorian mystery The Sins of the Wolf calls out for a fireplace, a long winter’s night, and a reader with the pleasure of time. The matriarch of a prominent Edinburgh family has been poisoned and her nurse charged. But it soon becomes clear that mother has been murdered by one of her own children, or one of their spouses. This is then a novel about family values, albeit with an unsettling twist. With invention and skill, Perry leads her reader along the convoluted path to truth, revealing at each turn the myriad secrets and evasions around which this extended family is structured. Near the novel’s end, the nurse heroine and her detective friend find themselves literally locked in a secret room hidden within the family’s publishing establishment, the center of a lawless and deceiving enterprise guarded by the family’s aloof and respectable public face. No easy, happy view of family life here, but neither a picture without parallel moments of grace and dignity and love. All this good, if harrowing, fun served up against the richly-drawn backdrop of Victorian London and Edinburgh (complete with testimony at the sensational trial by Florence Nightingale). And throughout, Perry weaves in lures about earlier stories and future prospects for nurse and detective. Closing the pages of The Sins of the Wolf, a reader can only find herself on the way to the bookstore and more Anne Perry.
1993 M. Shayne Bell Washed by a Wave of Wind: Science Fiction from the Corridor Editing & Publishing
1993 Chieko N. Okazaki Lighten Up! Sermon
1993 Darrell Spencer Our Secret’s Out Short Fiction
1993 Martine Bates The Dragon’s Tapestry Young Adult Literature
1993 Linda Sillitoe Crazy Living Poetry
1993 Leslie Beaton Hedley Twelve Sisters Novel
1993 Gerald N. Lund Thy Gold to Refine Novel
1993 Eugene England “Monte Cristo” Personal Essay
1993 Neil Labute In the Company of Men Drama [Produced at Brigham Young University, December 1992.]
1993 Michael O. Tunnell Chinook! Children’s Literature
1993 Phyllis Barber How I Got Cultured: A Nevada Memoir Biography
1993 Neila Seshachari Service to Mormon Letters Tenth Anniversary issue of Weber Studies.
1992 Marden J. Clark Liberating Form: Mormon Essays on Religion and Literature Personal Essay
1992 Barbara J. Porter All Kinds of Answers Children’s Literature
1992 Rudi Wobbe Before the Blood Tribunal Biography
1992 Orson Scott Card Lost Boys Novel
1992 Kathy Evans “Wednesday Morning”;”Midweek”;”Eight Windows”;”Vows”;”Love to the Second Power” Poetry
1992 Margaret Blair Young Elegies and Love Songs Short Fiction
1992 Maurine Whipple Honorary Lifetime Membership Maurine Whipple, native of St. George, is the author of This Is the Place: Utah and a host of articles and short stories in Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Look, Life, Time, and Pageant. She is especially esteemed for her prize-winning novel The Giant Joshua, considered by many to be the finest work or Mormon fiction.
1992 Virginia Eggertsen Sorensen Waugh Honorary Lifetime Membership Virginia Eggertsen Sorensen Waugh, to our individual and collective sorrow, died on December 24, 1991, not long after receiving notification of her election to this honor. She wrote six important books of fiction about the Mormons: A Little Lower Than the Angels, On This Star, The Evening and the Morning, Many Heavens, Kingdom Come, and Where Nothing Is Long Ago. Also of note is a reminiscence, Memories of a Mormon Childhood. In 1956 she won the National Study Award for Plain Girl, and in 1957 the Newberry Award for Miracles on Maple Hill.
1992 Helen Cardland Stark Honorary Lifetime Membership Helen Candland Stark, teacher, mother, feminist, activist, environmentalist, poet, essayist, and self-proclaimed “rebellious spirit,” is still growing and contributing in her nineties — recently raising her head above the battle to report that through it all she has developed a “sense of awe at the goodness God, and . . . the power of redemption at the heart of the universe” (Dialogue 23, Fall 1990: 33).
1992 William Mulder Honorary Lifetime Membership William Mulder, beloved and influential professor emeritus of English at the University of Utah, wrote Homeward to Zion, the story of the Scandinavian immigration to Utah. He co-edited Among the Mormons and authored numerous articles and essays on American and American literature, among them the essay “Mormonism and Literature.” A strong supporter of the Association for Mormon Letters, he has directed many students towards literary exploration of Mormon topics.
1992 Clinton F. Larson Honorary Lifetime Membership Clinton F. Larson, poet and professor emeritus at Brigham Young University, has been a teacher of creative writing to several generations of Mormon poets. He is a prolific playwright and editor as well. His plays include Snow White and the Mirror, The Mantle of the Prophet, Mary of Nazareth, The Prophet, Moroni, and Coriantumr. His books of poetry include The Lord of Experience, Counterpoint, The Western World, Selected Poems, and Sunwind. With William Stafford, he co-edited Modern Poetry of Western America. His Illustrated Stories from the Book of Mormon is a multi-volumed redaction of the Book of Mormon. His tapestry of poems, “Romaunt of the Rose,” received an AML prize.
1992 Edward L. Hart Honorary Lifetime Membership Edward L. Hart, Rhodes Scholar, widely published scholar and influential teacher and professor emeritus of English at Brigham Young University, and former president of AML, has written Mormon in Motion, a biographical study, Minor Lives, and To Utah, a volume of poetry which won an AML prize. One of his hymns, “Our Savior’s Love,” is included in the LDS Hymnal of 1985.
1992 Marden J. Clark Honorary Lifetime Membership Marden J. Clark, professor of English at Brigham Young University, has published poems, essays, literary criticism and stories in Dialogue and numerous professional journals, as well as a book of poems, Mood: Of Late, which won an AML prize, and a book of short stories, Morgan Triumphs. In a lifetime of teaching literature and writing, he has bee a strong and steady advocate for integrity among Mormon writers.
1991 Signature Books Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-Sex Orientation Editing & Publishing The awards committee gave this award, stating, “In a year of important fine writing by Mormons about the pain Latter-day saints experience when their choices go against institutional prescription (e.g. the entire Exponent II issue on abortion), this book is a landmark. Ron Schow, Wayne Schow, and Marybeth Raynes have performed a major service in collecting these thirty-six essays and three listings of resource materials on the issue of same-sex orientation in and out of the Church. “Intelligent and up-to-date information fills this volume. Its underlying principle is that same-sex orientation is not chosen and therefore in and of itself does not require repentance, although official Church statements have declared otherwise. Nineteen persona essays by men and women who have had to make difficult choices concerning their lives and lifestyles, and by family members or ecclesiastical counselors of these people, open our eyes to the fundamental truth that each is a suffering, desiring human being, heir to God’s love and deserving of compassion. The remaining seventeen essays detail views on same-sex orientation from the biological and social sciences and from a moral standpoint. Guidance for therapists as well as for families and for people of same-sex orientation make this an enlightening, thorough, and highly readable book, one that fills a need no other work has yet acknowledged so candidly and so provocatively. We are indebted to the editors for putting this book together, to instruct and, it is to be hoped, to help begin to heal all of us concerned about this issue in the Church.”
1991 Laurel Thatcher Ulrich A Midwife’s Tale Biography Discussing this award, the judges stated, “Although A Midwife’s Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich has already received numerous biography and history awards, this book most deserving of an award based on literary quality and style. The success of this endeavor is based on the artful crafting of a story surrounding bits, pieces, and notes of journal entries. By utilizing complementary sources, Ulrich has skillfully drawn readers into an amazing woman’s story. The literary creativity makes this story engrossing and unforgettable. Martha Ballard’s contribution to American history is documented by an intelligent blending of primary documents into a readable text. Sentences are beautifully cadenced, words carefully chosen. For its style, its metaphor, its basic literary brilliance, the Association of Mormon Letters recognizes and honors A Midwife’s Tale.”
1991 Terry Tempest Williams Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place Personal Essay Of Refuge, the awards committee said, “With this book, Terry Tempest Williams—writer, naturalist, peace activist—defines a new rhetoric for healing. In this beautifully understated and poignant memoir/nature essay, she has woven the story of the rising of the Great Salt Lake, its natural and political ramifications, into the story of her mother’s death from cancer in 1987. The author of several previous works of natural history, Terry Tempest Williams here gives voice to a deeply personal side of herself, a gift of passion and integrity both unique in its details and structure, and universal in its messages: that human beings are often devastatingly careless in their use of resources, and must learn not to be; that we can heal from such carelessness when we invest ourselves in nature; and that healing sometimes means accepting death. “Throughout this book we are privileged to experience the vision of a woman of unusually enlightened consciousness. She reports the problems and mistakes of the state of Utah and its people as pointedly and as accurately as she records birdflight and nesting patterns, showing us that each deserves our careful attention, for different but equally important reasons. She shares conversations with her wise and intelligent mother and grandmother, myths and stories from the Utah desert’s Fremont Indian past, and many private rituals, both causal and formal, performed with family and friends in the process of dealing with the destruction this book describes. By honoring the strengths of her Mormon heritage as well as the truths of her experience as a naturalist and an artist, she creates a way of seeing that honors and enlarges the caring best in each of us. We are lucky to have her among us. She and this exquisitely crafted book are cutting-edge.
1991 Philip White “Island Spring” Poetry Discussing the award for poetry, the judges stated, “When one is confronted with selecting the best poetry among an impressive collection, inevitably one poem or set of poems will surface, demanding the judge to take notice, so that essentially the poems do the choosing rather than the judge. At least, that is what I like to think happened when Philip White’s poems “Island Spring” and “The Perseids” emerged as the winners of the 1992 Association of Mormon Letters poetry award. More than simply impressions, White’s poems are informed with ideas. This thought, combined with deft imagery, careful line breaks, and subtle lyricism, give us poetry that fuses craftsmanship with emotion and intellect in the appropriate proportions. “White’s language is not haphazard or arbitrary, but forms a synthesis of sound and metaphor. In each poem a sense of unity is created by these overlapping images. For example, in “Island Spring,” several images are woven together to convey the vulnerability of the child as her dark, rustling world seems to almost overwhelm her tenuous existence: A child, she steps / below such slashing, eyes bright / with fear flashing. . . . / where the moon’s tatters lie / strewn across thick, bladed shadow. . . . / Always I will see / her so, meager of body and singing / in the knife-ridden dark . .&bnsp;. “Island Spring” is exotic and mysterious, yet in some ways “The Perseids” is even more complex and mysterious, despite the familiar undertone of death. The poem is poignant in its quiet grief and austerity. Many poems on death use the contrast between light and dark. The light referred to in the poem’s title is intriguing—a meteor shower, a cluster of lights that are individually extinguished. This image is mirrored with a later one: ‘You were always steady, dying / the way you did, cell / by cell.’ “Both poems reveal a poet who listens and observes carefully. These qualities do not pertain merely to his own experience but to the writing of poetry as well. The poems convey an implicit craftsmanship; one appreciates how effortlessly the poems appear to have been created (although one knows otherwise). This alone is a quality any poet hopes to achieve.”
1991 Louise Plummer My Name is Sus5an Smith. The 5 is Silent Young Adult Literature An excerpt from the citation: “‘When Uncle Willy left, I was Susan Smith. Now, ten years later, I am Sus5an Smith. The 5 is silent. It’s a silence that drives certain members of my family up the wall, but I figure if you’re going to have the last name of Smith, then your first name should be more exotic than susan or Sue or even Sioux.’ Thus we meet one of the most delightful characters in young adult literature. Her life-long attachment to Uncle Willy, known only briefly as her Aunt Marianne’s husband, is a mystery to one and all. To Sus5an, Uncle Willy represents exotic places and a kindred spirit in the arts. He appreciated the ‘way the elm trees arch over our street, and the way the hollyhocks grown thick next to the garage. He appreciated the junebugs flitting about the yellow light of the porch. Willy say it. He saw the magic of it.’ And didn’t he send her a silver necklace on her eighth birthday? “Springville, Utah, is hardly the place for a true (seventeen-year-old) artist to pursue art, in spite of the fact that it is called ‘Art City.’ Every time Sus5an paints a member of her family, they seem disappointed. Even angry. This year, for the student art show, Sus5an is painting an entire family portrait, including Aunt Marianne’s fiance Heber and the long gone Uncle Willy. But she keeps the bedroom door locked because she doesn’t want to hear ‘questions like, “Why are you putting that S.O.B. Willy Gerard into a family portrait?” And [she] especially [doesn’t] want to hear, “Why are Grandma and Grandpa Schroeder’s faces distorted on one side?”‘ But, of course, at the show those are the very questions. The prize she won only embarrasses her family. “And that is why, after graduation, she goes to Boston to live with Aunt Libby, unmarried, un-Springville and able to introduce her to a world where real art exists. Sus5an quickly befriends the eccentric old woman, Grace, in the apartment next door, finds a job in a movie theater with Savatore as her boss, and meets a promising young artist, Thomas Roods. She also realizes her heart’s desire and finds Willy. “We laugh and cry with Sus5an as she learns to see Willy, herself, and even boring old Springville through more adult eyes. At the end of a very long summer, Susan tells her family she is going back to Boston to pursue her art education, this time with her vision a little more clear. “Louis Plummer never intrudes into the novel, never preaches. Susan and her family are LDS but not obtrusively so. Her dad’s store is closed on Sunday and he goes to church with them and naps in the afternoon. Susan values human beings as individuals, evidenced by her friendship with Grace and her unflagging if ill-placed trust in Willy. Her values and her family’s are ones the Mormon audience will identify with but not cringe over. This delightful book won first place in the Utah Arts Council contest for young adult fiction and is listed among the School Library Journal’s December 1991 list of ‘Best Books 1991.’ We are proud to add our award to the list of recognitions given to My Name is Sus5an Smith. The 5 is Silent.
1991 Michael Fillerup “Lost and Found” Short Fiction The awards committee stated, “Michael Fillerup’s stories are often about Mormonism in that direct way that subverts probity with good intention—or would, if the writing were any less wary than his, or any less open to complication, ambush, or misgiving. A kind of home teaching perhaps, but here set fobiddingly far from home. His characters are often profound loners, people twice estranged. They find themselves marginalized in a culture—for them—already marginal, where what they do and are is sustained by religious commitment, and religious commitment is imperiled precisely by what they find themselves doing and what, in fact, they have become. Faith in these stories, is a terrible gift. “‘Lost and Found,’ published in a Christmas anthology of mostly far-too-well-intentioned writing, is just such a story, a kind of counter-Christmas tale, in which a painfully unwise man is called on a starless Christmas Eve to bring his foreign gift, not to mark the miracle virgin birth, but to find something not unlike miracle in the long-deflowered ordinariness of death. As in Fillerup’s other work, the story plunges along with seeming artlessness where careful shaping would surely not seem to take, and all the while it draws us deftly on with urgency and realism. It is a hard=nosed, rawly detailed, icily coercive read. And ends however improbably still quite believably in magic. In revelation. “With ‘Lost and Found,’ Michael Fillerup has braved a labyrinth of sentiment, all the more treacherous for its familiarity, to achieve a story whose probity might even make the world safe again, if only momentarily, for Christmas. That too is a terrible gift.”
1991 Gerald N. Lund Like a Fire is Burning Novel The awards committee honored this novel, stating, “Benard DeVoto, Utah’s first nationally prominent writer, once joked that his Mormon novel was by far the best book he was never going to write: God, the best storyteller, had made a better story out of Joseph Smith and the Mormon journeys than fiction could ever equal. Gerald Lund has not been daunted by DeVoto’s warning, nor William Mulder’s advice that we deal with Mormon experience on a smaller canvas; nor has he been dissuaded by the numerous failure of many who have tried to turn Mormonism’s epic history into novels. In fact, he has set for himself the unprecedented task of a multi-volume set of novels, The Work and the Glory, covering the entire sage of the Restoration from 1820 to the present, focussed in the lives of early converts Mary Ann and Benjamin Steed and their descendants. Now that the second volume has been published, we can assess Lund’s success—and we affirm with this award that is has been remarkable. Like Pillar of Fire, the first volume of the series, the novel here honored is straightforward in approach and clear in purpose and effect: Lund writes in his introduction to Like a Fire is Burning: ‘If the reader becomes swept up in the grandeur of the work of the Restoration, let it be remembered that it is God’s work and his glory that is described in this story.’ Lund has done careful research in religious and political history and in the relevant social and material culture and has created an interesting diverse, and constantly developing fictional family that is believably close to the great events and figures of early Church history and thus able to give us a fresh and moving view of those well-known events and people. The Steeds are diverse, from the uneasily yoked parents to the passionate sinners and passionate saints among their children, and Lund moves us with their own drama as it is both provoked and healed by the developing, dramatic demands and powers of the Mormon faith. The first two volumes are gripping and moving in large part because they are grounded in what most readers believe—or hope—are real and terribly important events, involving divine appearances, revealed scriptures, and restored power to save us from sin. In Like a Fire is Burning Lund takes us, believably, with the Steeds into the center of the Pentecostal experiences at the Kirtland Temple dedication. We wish him well as he takes us on into the tragedies of Kirtland and Nauvoo and the costly crossings—to the Great Basin and into the twentieth century.”
1991 Orson Scott Card Xenocide Novel Discussing this novel, the awards committee stated, “Flannery O’Connor once pointed out that ‘It makes a great difference 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,’ and ‘whether [the author] believes that our wills are free, or bound.’ Elsewhere she affirmed, ‘I see from the standpoint of Christian orthodoxy.’ Sheldon Sachs has argued that novelists of integrity will inevitably reveal ‘the shape’ of their belief ‘in the myriad judgments’ that must be made on every page. We honor Xenocide as a first-rate novel that reveals on each page the shape of Card’s orthodox Mormon Christian faith. “Card began to establish what is now a world-class reputation in science fiction with work that contained no obvious clues that his own culture and beliefs were Mormon, and his work was appreciated and honored mainly outside Mormon culture. But when he began publishing his Tales of Alvin Maker series (1987), though these too were honored and read mainly by a growing national audience, it became clear to Mormon readers, who were able to see the parallels between Alvin and Joseph Smith, that he was moving toward more direct exploration of his own faith and heritage. The exploration became quite open in Folk of the Fringe (1989), a collection of science fiction stories centered in the life of Mormons after a future nuclear war. Michael Collings and other critics began to look again at the early work and to find there, certainly in the second Enders novel, Speaker for the Dead, and even in the first, Enders Game, a focus on savior figures and the process of redemption. “Xenocide continues to improve on Card’s earlier contributions to science fiction by creating a genuine novel of complex point of view and densely detailed individual and family and group life, centered in the continuing issues of violence, redemption, and the possibility of peace, even love, between very different species of life (including rodents that metamorphose into trees, and insects that create reality from imagination, and a wholly computer-contained intelligence). But here Card adds such directly Mormon matter as intense examination of religious self-delusion and self-abuse (we watch the “People of the Path” with bemused self-recognition, then horror, then compassion), as well as fascinating explorations of such theological matters as the possibility of free-will and the nature of Godhood and creation.”
1990 William A. Wilson “In Praise of Ourselves: Stories to Tell” Criticism An excerpt from the citation states, “Bert Wilson has stories to tell. He tells stories well. And they are our stories (even, and perhaps most especially, when they are his own). Missionary stories. Stories of Relief Society presidents and bishops. Three Nephite stories. Trickster tales. Serious stories of humor. Farming stories. Outlaw stories. Theological stories. Personal narratives. His mother’s stories of Riddyville, a town that now exists only in stories. “His—our—stories are celebratory, healing, human stories. Stories that help us build a sense of community and then deal with the pressures that community imposes. Stories without which we have no selves. Stories that shape our lives as we shape them. He doesn’t teach us to tell stories (for he seems to think of us as natural geniuses), but he does hep us to value them, to study them, to recognize our humanity in them, to feel again the power of our own good fictions, the joy of our divine capacity to create.”
1990 Elouise Bell Only When I Laugh Personal Essay Discussing this collection of essays, the awards committee states, “As Elouise Bell explains it: ‘The title of this collection . . . comes . . . from the old story about a man who had been run through with a large spear. When asked if it hurt terribly, he replied, “only when I laugh.” Sometimes it hurts whether we laugh or not.’ Reading these essays, I wept, I wailed, I gnashed my teeth. But mostly I laughed. “For many years, Elouise Bell has explored the range of the personal essay, trying it on like a body-suit, finding where it bends, where it stretches, where it fits best, where it’s a bit loose and wrinkled. most of these trials have been undertaken for Network magazine. To it, for its deadlines, we owe an immense debt of gratitude; without them, the tongue of this Bell might never have rung so many changes on the form. “And such changes! There is the voice of “When Nice Ain’t so Nice” warning us of the danger to our society of suppressing our feelings, especially anger. There is the backward unmasking of our Sunday rituals in “The Meeting,” loosing a friction of nervous laughter that scrubs away the local anaesthetic which lest us sleep through Sacrament (and other meetings). There is the clever update of one-upmanship in “Power Ploys” lingering like a message on an answering machine, to remind us each time we take it up how phony are our pretensions. (And a reminder in “Three for the Holidays” of how empty our post-tensions are.) “In all these essays—wry, funny, sly, outrageous, clever, witty, dry-eyed, in memoriam—Elouise Bell releases the tensions that we all feel, sometimes with gales of raucous laughter, sometimes with punctures to our pride, sometimes with a clean surgical swipe. The tickling we feel in the aftermath is the itch of healing, the healing of the wound made by that large spear.”
1990 Loretta Randall Sharp “Doing It” Poetry The award states, “In an impressive year for published verse by Mormons—a great deal of it, all of it at least competent, much of it more than that—Loretta Randall Sharp is a very impressive winner of this award. Her voice is clear, individual and very direct; the confidence with which she controls it is the confidence of having something needful, something both timeless and contemporary, to say. It is a woman’s voice addressing women’s concerns so that we are all involved men and women. She lives entirely in the contemporary world and her language and her landscape are those of our time. Yet—in “The Slow Way Home” for example—she is completely at ease in the old, unhurried world of India, her compassion and understanding wide enough to acknowledge the ancient customs of that land, aware of the presence of the old and necessary gods. And “Going Home,” which I think the finest of this group of striking poems, exhibits a daughter’s love and understanding for a sick father, with a lack of sentimentality at once healing and refreshing. It allows the poet to create a poem which shows we can all be ‘caught / by fear palpable as salt brine, each / yielding to the inexorable season of love.’”
1990 Walter Kirn My Hard Bargain Short Fiction The citation for this award states, “In Walter Kirn’s debut collection, My Hard Bargain, his stories come of age in ways that are unique in Mormon literature—they simply sail boldly toward the edge of the know world and refuse to drop off. Because of this daring, they cannot be ignored. They are stories about falling away and falling toward—about the adolescent whose sexual sins marked out on his bishop’s chart shine radiantly like the stars in a planetarium (they resist the object of the object lesson); they are stories about conversion, where the violence of domestic life is suddenly mellowed by the gospel beyond all the gospel clichs; and they are stories about the healing maternal touch of Vicks VapoRub. “Neither moralizing or ‘de’moralizing, each story transcends conventional expectation because Kirn carefully fashions detail, but always relinquishes authorship to the reader at just the right moment. Indeed, it is the story that matters, not Kirn’s long-standing personal view, pet peeves, or convictions. He gives himself up to whim, the moment of story, the telling. One time he is a bankrupt farmer, preparing his bankrupt farmer speech. At another, he is the keeper of deadman’s curve, waiting for wrecks so that he can make his living on the salvaging of used parts. Walter Kirn’s stories are about being alive in a world where ‘being human’ is neither an excuse or a revelation, but a wonderful fact. He is a master of the modern short story where fiction is multi-textured, variegated, and hard to pin down. He is someone the rest of us will have to deal with, literarily speaking, for some time.”
1990 Franklin Fisher Bones Novel According to the awards committee, “Bones skillfully weaves numerous colorful narrative strands into an intriguing whole. In Lorin Hood, Franklin Fisher has created a complicated protagonist with a rich mystical, sensual, and artistic spirituality that meshes only uneasily with traditional Mormonism. His character develops sympathetically and deeply as he moves from adolescent doubt through phases of faith and self-discovery. This complexity is illustrated in descriptions of Lorin’s paintings, such as this one of a crowded pod of peas: ‘The peas themselves were of various densities. Some were solid and rough, with irregular bumps and knobs like asteroids, others were hard and smooth like pool balls, still others were shimmery and indistinct, and occupied the same spaces with the solid ones, overlapping like a double exposure. It had been an experiment in mixing modes of reality—how many peas from how many planes of existence could cohabit in the same canvas, much less the same pod?—and he made it an experiment in simultaneous perspectives as well’ (243). “The narrative starkly contrasts passages of straightforward description of common objects and events with dreams and visions that render all experiences uncommon. Fisher also succeeds in juxtaposing different emotional and intellectual approaches to Mormonism and in creating characters with varying levels of maturity in encounters with issues of universal spiritual significance. The novel is splashed with evocations of Mormon culture and folklore that are both frankly comic and insightful, as when Lorin sees himself as a thirteen-year-old Joseph Smith: ‘he watched himself creep down the wooden steps with their curls of green paint, cross the yard and push open the wagon wheel gate and follow the dirt path up past the stock-dam, and then he joined himself. He was looking for a quiet place to pray for a revelation’ (218). Lorin Hood’s rites of passage as an artist, a Mormon, a sensualist, and a mystic are fascinating, controversial, disturbing and rewarding.”

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