Several conferences are coming up, including the AML Conference on April 22. New books include the third in the “Mormon Image in Literature” series, a collection of essays from Matthew James Babcock, fantasy novels by D. J. Butler, Brian McClellan, Bryce Moore, and Brandon Mull, the latest YA novel from Jeff Zentner, and a series of Thomas F. Rogers’ collected plays. New plays by Morag Shepherd and Eric Samuelsen are being staged soon. I got this out in less than a month in the first time in a while. Please send announcements and corrections to: mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.
News and blogs
The Association for Mormon Letters Conference will be held at Utah Valley University on April 22. The conference schedule will be released soon. A major national author will be among the participants in the conference. Be sure and check out the AML Award finalists in twelve categories.
The schedule for the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities Conference, May 25-27, in Boston, has been released. The theme is “Wisdom”, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Terryl Givens are the keynote speakers. Continue Reading →
We are excited to announce the 2016 Association for Mormon Letters awards finalists in the Drama, Film, and Video Series categories. Middle Grade Novel, Young Adult Novel, Poetry, Short Fiction, Comics, Novel, Picture Books, Creative Non-fiction, and Religious Non-fiction finalists were announced previously. There will also be a Criticism award, but there will not be finalists for that category. The final awards will be announced and presented at the AML Conference at Utah Valley University on April 22. The Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters and the AML Lifetime Achievement awards will also be presented there. The finalists and winners are chosen by juries of authors and critics. The finalist announcements include blurbs about each of the books and author biographies, taken from the author and publisher websites.
The judges for the Drama award considered only the written scripts, not the production, or any music that might have been part of the play.
Matthew Greene. Gregorian. Working Artist Theatre Project, New York City. August.
Gregorian portrays one family’s journey through the bloodiest century in human history as four generations discover the gravity of a name passed from father to son. The play explores the cyclical effects of genocide on humanity, the consequences of denial, and the essential place these stories hold in our existence. Beginning with the Gregorian family’s own tragic roots in the Armenian Genocide, through the rise of the Nazi Party, across the killing fields of Cambodia, and the continuing crisis in Africa, they do all they can to hold on to heritage, history, and hope. Continue Reading →
We are excited to announce the 2016 Association for Mormon Letters awards finalists in the Creative Non-fiction and Religious Non-fiction categories. Middle Grade Novel, Young Adult Novel, Poetry, Short Fiction, Comics, Novel, and Picture Books finalists were announced previously, and we will be announcing the Drama, Film, and Video Series finalists shortly. The final awards will be announced and presented at the AML Conference at Utah Valley University on April 22. The finalists and winners are chosen by juries of authors and critics. The finalist announcements include blurbs about each of the books and author biographies, from the author and publisher websites.
“Creative Non-fiction” includes memoirs and collections of personal essays. “Religious Non-fiction” refers to a wide variety of LDS religious studies books, including scriptural studies, theology, and devotional literature. The category does not include histories or biographies, as we figure that the Mormon Historical Association already does a good job of recognizing those books.
Scott Abbott. Immortal for Quite Some Time. University of Utah Press.
“This is not a memoir. Rather, this is a fraternal meditation on the question ‘Are we friends, my brother?’ The story is uncertain, the characters are in flux, the voices are plural, the photographs are as troubled as the prose. This is not a memoir.” Thus Scott Abbott introduces the reader to his exploration of the life of his brother John, a man who died of AIDS in 1991 at the age of forty. Writing about his brother, he finds he is writing about himself and about the warm-hearted, educated, and homophobic LDS family that forged the core of his identity. Images and quotations are interwoven with the reflections, as is a critical female voice that questions his assertions and ridicules his rhetoric. The book moves from the starkness of a morgue’s autopsy through familial disintegration and adult defiance to a culminating fraternal conversation. This exquisitely written work will challenge notions of resolution and wholeness. Continue Reading →
We are excited to announce the finalists in the Comics, Novel, and Picture Book categories of the 2016 Association for Mormon Letters awards. Middle Grade Novel, Young Adult Novel, Poetry, and Short Fiction were announced previously, and we will be announcing the other category finalists over the coming week, including Creative Non-Fiction, Drama, Film, Religious Non-Fiction, and Video Series. The final awards will be announced and presented at the AML Conference at Utah Valley University on April 22. The finalists and winners are chosen by juries of authors and critics. The finalist announcements include blurbs about each of the books and author biographies, from the author and publisher websites.
Scott Hales. Mormon Shorts, Vol. 1
From the creator of the popular webcomic The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl, Mormon Shorts is a collection of Mormon-themed comics, cartoons, and tweet-length microstories that capture the endearing quirks and curiosities of the Mormon people.
Scott Hales is a writer and cartoonist from Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the creator of the webcomics The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl and Mormon Shorts. Scott has an MA and PhD in English from the University of Cincinnati and a BA in English from Brigham Young University. He has published on American literature, comics, and Mormon fiction and poetry in various journals, including The Edgar Allan Poe Review, International Journal of Comic Art, and Religion and the Arts. He has also published fiction and comics in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and Sunstone. Scott currently lives in Utah with his wife, Sarah, and five children. Continue Reading →
We are excited to announce the finalists in the Poetry, Short Fiction Collection, and Short Fiction categories of the 2016 Association for Mormon Letters awards. Middle Grade Novel and Young Adult Novel were announced previously, and we will be announcing the other category finalists over the coming week. Those categories include Comics, Creative Non-Fiction, Drama, Film, Novel, Picture Book, Religious Non-Fiction, and Video Series. The final awards will be announced and presented at the AML Conference at Utah Valley University on April 22. The finalists and winners are chosen by juries of authors and critics. The finalist announcements include blurbs about each of the books and author biographies, from the author and publisher websites, as well as a poem from each of the poetry collections.
Neil Aitken. Leviathan. Hyacinth Girl Press.
Babbage Attempting to Solve for the Unknown
Let x be the rain that falls in a year.
Let it be what overflows from the cisterns and wells,
from whatever vessels are set upon the walls of the city
or buried in its depths.
Even this water must have someplace to go.
All year it grows line after line parallel to the earth,
to the lip of crumbled brick, to the dark felt of shadow
that runs the length of a fallow field.
Let it be the solution to the bodies of grey-feathered birds,
to the cats thrown at you by children, to the withering snap Continue Reading →
Part two of the Month in Review. New books this month include poetry from Neil Aitken, a charming female superhero origin novel from Shannon and Dean Hale, Scott Hales’ second Garden of Enid graphic novel of a “weird Mormon girl”, Tricia Levenseller’s debut pirates novel gets a Publishers Weekly starred review, a new YA romance from Kasie West, and Brooke Williams’ meditations on his Mormon pioneer ancestors and the environment from a post-Mormon perspective.
New Books and their reviews
Neil Aitken. Babbage’s Dream. Sundress Publications, Feb. 8. Poetry book. 70 pages. “In stunningly elegant couplets, Neil Aitken transposes the dreams of machines and humans into musical, sonically deft lyrics that sing songs of creation, vision, possibility, futurity. These beautifully crafted poems—evoking the designs of nineteenth-century mathematician Charles Babbage, who conceptualized the first mechanical programmable computer—explore the tautologies between mathematics and song, science and lyric, the rational and the passionate, dystopia and hope. In the infinite tape loop of memory and imagination, Babbage’s Dream posits a Turing Test in which the reader circles both anxiously and gloriously through aspects of making, maker, and the made.” —Lee Ann Roripaugh, Author of Dandarians. Continue Reading →
It is awards seasons, with finalists for the Whitney Awards out and the AML Awards coming out. Julie Berry and Jeff Zentner were given some of the highest YA honors from the American Library Association, as well as being finalists for both Whitney and AML awards. Tim Slover’s play Virtue was widely praised and quickly sold out. The LDS Film Festival is happening this week. New books and reviews will be discussed in part 2, coming soon. Please send announcements and corrections to: mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.
Awards and honors
LDStorymakers, a Mormon author guid, announced The Whitney Awards finalists, awards that honor novels published by Mormon authors. The categories are: General, Historical, Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, Speculative, Middle Grade, General Young Adult, Speculative Young Adult, and Best Novel by a Debut Author.
Julie Berry’s The Passion of Dolssa was awarded a Pritnz Honor Prize by the American Library Association. The Michael L. Printz Award annually honors the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit, each year, it is the Oscar of YA literature. Congressman John Lewis and his collaborators won the main award for their book March: Book Three, a graphic novel about the civil rights movement. The Passion Dolssa was one of four books given an “Honor Prize”, for excellence in YA literature. Continue Reading →
We are excited to announce the finalists in the first two categories of the 2016 Association for Mormon Letters awards, Middle Grade Novel and Young Adult Novel. We will be announcing the other category finalists over the coming week. Those categories include Comics, Creative Non-Fiction, Drama, Film, Middle Grade Novel, Novel, Picture Book, Poetry, Religious Non-Fiction, Short Fiction, and Video Series. There also will be an award for Criticism, although not a group of finalists for that category. The final awards will be announced and presented at the AML Conference at Utah Valley University on April 22. The finalist announcements include blurbs about each of the books and author biographies, as provided by the publishers and authors.
Middle Grade Novel
Continue Reading →
Greg Kofford Books has become a significant player in Mormon studies publishing. Greg Kofford, a Utah-based investor, created the company in 2000. It was originally known for producing just a few books a year about Mormon theology and history. In the last six years it has significantly increased the number of books it produces, and has published a wider variety, including more literary works. The ideological content of the books covers a wide range of positions, and the company is seen as occupying a middle ground in terms of orthodoxy and scholarship. This profile will look at the origins of the company, its place in the wider world of Mormon studies publishing, and solicit the opinion of authors who have worked with the publisher.
Greg Kofford and the origins of Greg Kofford Books
Greg Kofford is the son of LDS business owner Lewis Kofford. The elder Kofford bought Covenant Recordings, a small LDS tape recording business in 1977 and eventually turned it into a publisher, Covenant Communications. Lewis Kofford also created his own chain of bookstores, Seagull Books & Tape, in 1987.
Image taken from Financial Review. http://www.afr.com/business/mining/uk-fund-lanstead-investors-says-now-is-the-time-to-buy-asx-junior-miners-20160324-gnq8up
Greg Kofford received a BS from the University of Utah and an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He became a financial manager, specializing in the capital markets, hedge funds and private family office investing. He founded the corporate finance group at the Salt Lake City broker Wilson Davis. In 1990 he was brought in by his father to become the President and CEO of Seagull Books & Tape. Continue Reading →
As part of a project I’m working on, I’ve recently had the great pleasure of visiting with members of the Church in their homes and places of business. Without exception, these spaces have been graced by Mormon artists’ works. It’s fun to talk to these collectors and hear the stories behind the art that they clearly love. Often, the artists were members of the family or were dear friends. After having looked at these works daily for many years, these collectors have become the artists’ greatest (and sometimes only) advocates. Maybe it’s just been good luck, but I’ve seen some amazing works in homes, grand and humble.
Equally interesting to me are good art and bad art. Often, the good and the bad hang side by side. The good art could easily find its way into museum collections, if the children and grandchildren ever decide to part with it (which they probably won’t), and the bad (a harsh word but not a wholly inaccurate one) refers to works that were made by family members and friends, and although not accomplished, it is still as meaningful, maybe even more so to the collectors; it is every bit as treasured.
That’s how it is at my house. One of my favorite paintings is by my father. In retirement, my dad told me that he had always wanted to take up painting. I was surprised, and I thought he was joking. I couldn’t ever remember him talking about it before. As Christmas neared a few years before he passed away, I went over to the New York Art Students League, where many great Mormon painters trained in the era of Mahonri Young and Minerva Teichert, and I purchased some brushes, paints, and boards for him. I was calling his bluff.
In 1989, he surprised me again by presenting me with a painting that he made for me as a gift. By most standards of art, it’s not good. He loved the mountains, and he painted a scene where he had spent much of his life as a sheepherder, logger, and finally a philanthropist and conservationist. The perspective of the painting is sort of wacky. The highway looks like a grey bike path. It’s not really very inventive, either. But…it does its job to remind me of the beauty of Cedar Mountain, and it certainly prompts me to love both the place and the painter. That’s all it asks. Continue Reading →