On the State of Mormon Book Reviewing–a guest post from Professor Warren G. Harding, Mervin Peake Online University of the Arts and Science

BCC received the following guest post, delivered via the US Postal Service and re-typed by several former BCC permabloggers, from Professor Warren G. Harding last week. Dr. Harding is the R. L. Stine Chair of Esoteric Literature at Mervin Peake Online University of the Arts and Science.

Your correspondent was pleased to receive recently a clipping from the latest issue of Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought: a review of Kattrim G. Mender’s master’s thesis, “Gilda Trillim: Shepherdess of Rats.” Your Mormon people might like to know that Mender’s thesis caused much controversy within the university on the eve of our latest accreditation review. (Results pending.) Mender’s very acceptance as a student at MPOUAS raised red flags throughout the faculty, considering his having previously flunked out of a small university none of us had heard of in Rexburg, Idaho.

Unfortunately, the department of esoteric literature at that time was being held hostage–metaphorically, that is–by Dr. Mary Locken and two of her lackeys whose names do not merit mention here. At her behest Mender was admitted on a split faculty vote, 3-2. (Don’t be fooled by Locken’s new position at the University of Iowa. We were glad to see her go.)

Mender’s questionable admittance was a small concern, compared to the student’s desire to focus a master’s thesis on Gilda Trillim–a disgraced author (and from what I understand, a disgraced Mormon). Admittedly, a small contingency of literary critics and persons of letters hail Trillim as a genius, the creator of new literary genres based on the nature of being itself. I’m sure some of your Mormons likewise hail her theological musings as arresting and true to the Mormon spirit. We know how much stock to put in such assessments.

Fortunately, the review in question, rather than focusing largely on the contents of the master’s thesis, focused instead on the question of what Mormon literature is, and whether it will ever be good. This is as it should be. There’s no need to spend much time on the bizarre collection of vignettes comprising Mender’s thesis, which introduces readers to drug induced hallucinations, Mormon esoterica, the horrors of war, Russian convent life, flights of metaphysical fancy, theological explorations about the nature of being and love, and the reworkings of sacramental imagery. Much better, the question of just how Mormon it is. (Ironically, some accuse Trillim critics such as myself of performing the same violence upon her. We know better!)

Admittedly, I am unfamiliar with the discussion of the state of Mormon literature (the reviewer’s comments about Gentile readers possibly being bored with Mormon issues stopped me cold; I had no idea Mormons considered themselves to be Jewish), but I trust the review in Dialogue could be the first of many interesting discussions to come about what constitutes Mormon literature. The state of Mormon book reviewing may be in its adolescence, or so it seems based on the one specimen I’ve encountered, but its future seems bright. Perhaps the Mormon tradition will yet raise up Harold Blooms and James Woods of their own someday.

Dr. Warren G. Harding, PhD, PhD, MS, BA, BS
January 2, 2018

Comments

  1. YES.

  2. Warren G had to regulate.

  3. Aussie Mormon says:

    I’m not sure I know what’s going on here. Can someone give me a back story possibly with a fade-out with some kind of early 90s pop song?

  4. Aussie Mormon, I’m no good with pop songs, but you’ll find clues in the reviews at http://www.roundfire-books.com/books/gilda-trillim-shepherdess-rats
    and the facts that Stephen Peck was a perma at BCC and BCCPress has published one of his books. I haven’t read Gilda Trillim — yet.

  5. Mervyn Peake surely….
    Just love those Gormenghast books.

  6. Brilliant.

  7. A Mormon James Wood would be quite the trial of my faith.

  8. All kinds of awesome.

  9. LOL Wm.

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