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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 09:25AM

One of my favourite Mormon references in the movies is the final irony in Raising Arizona. In books, too, I come across stray references to everything Mormon and have wished I’d kept a catalogue of quotes. Here’s one I came across last night:

After morning sex on a train:

“You need a bath,” said the man abruptly, raising himself on one elbow and looking sharply down at her as she lay relaxed on the rumpled sheet. The curtain was halfway up, and outside the Great Salt Lake surrounded them. They had been going over it for hours, that immense, gray-brown blighting Dead Sea, which looked, not like an actual lake, but like a mirage seen in the desert. She had watched it for a long time, while the man beside her murmured of his happiness and his plans for their future; they had slept a little and when they opened their eyes again, it was still there, an interminable reminder of sterility, polygamy, and waste.”

—Mary McCarthy—
—The Company She Keeps—

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 09:52AM

Nice, but a minor detail distracted me: "outside the Great Salt Lake surrounded them." ?? Were they on Antelope Island? On a train stalled on the rail causeway? But the "interminable reminder of sterility, polygamy, and waste" is a line with heavy punch.

I'll add Zane Grey's "Riders of the Purple Sage" to discussion. He depicts Mormonism in strong and dark hues, which mesh powerfully with his vivid descriptions of southern Utah's mesas, canyons, and arid plain. Plus people, horses, ranches, climate, flora...


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Posted by: Done & Done ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 10:45AM

The Salt Lake is an apt metaphor for Mormonism. Nothing can live in it but brine shrimp and the shores stink. No need to explain the correlation.

Not in literature as the theme suggests, but, on my mission when my MP sensed I was a bit discouraged and down he said this:

"Do you know why the Salt Lake is so salty?"


"Because all the tributaries feed into the lake but there are no streams out so the salt brought in just continues to collect making the lake stagnant."

"Oh." says me--Getting the point---work harder, give more and then you will not be stagnant. It's all your fault.

"Ask not what your church can do for you. Ask what you can do for your church." This is the message of every speech by every G.A. whenever they open their mouths. The actual words are just a vehicle for the coding.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 01:38PM

Very arguably, the earliest and most famous literary reference to mormons and mormonism is the first Sherlock Holmes detective novel, published in 1887, "A Study in Scarlet."

If you're curious, here's the link to Wikipedia's version:

Basically, a non-mormon in Deseret falls in love with a young woman who as a child was rescued in the wilderness by BY and a party of saints heading west. Their rescue was contingent on them accepting mormonism. The young girl's guardian hates the mormons for holding them hostage in that manner and vows he won't let her grow up to marry a mormon.

Years later she falls in love with a non-mormon, but the mormons make her marry a rich mormon and the girl dies of a broken heart. Her true love swears revenge and the mormon widower flees to Europe to escape the non-mormon's vengeance. But the beau tracks him down and kills him and a man aiding the widower, only to be caught by Holmes. But the beau escapes the clutches of Lady Justice by dying of an aortic aneurysm that he'd been dealing with for years, as evidenced by frequent nose-bleeds(?)...

Mormonism was given quite the black eye by this novel!

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 02:38PM

Perhaps I should post anonymously, but here goes...groan...

I read an above-average LDS romance, "Enduring Light." Author Carla Kelly is a best-selling author outside LDS fiction, and brought some real writing talent to an LDS romance.

Be that as it may, she utilizes the pioneer orphan with mysterious backstory trope very well. Considering the demographically eclectic settling of Deseret, that strikes me as a trope which would serve LDS authors well.

Do we see that much in other LDS fiction?

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Posted by: GatoRat ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 11:16PM

The hilarious part about A Study in Scarlet is how badly Doyle hashed up the geography. Even a simple map shows that! I got so confused.

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Posted by: slskipper ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 02:00PM

Wallace Stegner started writing a novel with a Mormon background. He gave up after a few pages because he realized half of his book would need to be footnotes explaining Mormonism.

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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: May 01, 2021 08:15AM

Yes. Right. Thanks for the Stegner reminder:

“He was getting uncomfortable. He kept stealing looks at Mrs. Betterton, the fattest woman he had ever seen. The parlor seemed warm. His eye flicked around looking for ashtrays as he thought of lighting a cigarette. There weren’t any ashtrays. Mormons, he supposed. He had never thought to ask Laura.

“I’ve got the car,” he said to Laura. “Want to take a little ride?”

“Fine,” she said. “When’s dinner, Mom?”

“About three. I got a chicken, so you’d better get back.”

[Sex in car]

“I guess you’re late to that chicken dinner,” he said.

“I guess so.”

“What’ll we do tonight?”

“I don’t care. Can you come down?”


“The folks will be going to meeting at six thirty.”

They were Mormons all right, then. “Don’t you go?” he said.

“I haven’t gone for a year,” she said. “They think I’m a lost soul.” Her eyes flicked up to his, and she turned her face to lay her cheek against the seat. “I guess I am.”

“I guess you’re not.”

—Wallace Stegner—
—The Big Rock Candy Mountain—

(Now, why would that passage remind me of elderolddog?)

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Posted by: loislane ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 02:04PM

I think Sir Arthur apologized to the Mormons on a lecture trip he made to the USA when he was in Utah, but he got it right the first time.

In case anyone hasn't noticed, I am a Bibliophile, and there was a time when I collected LOTS of 19th century anti-Mormon books, some of which were novels.

Well, how can you NOT make use of Mormonism if you are into drama. Mormonism has EVERYTHING -- polygamy, forced marriages, blood atonement, secret ceremonies.

It's like everything you need to create drama is handed to you on a silver platter.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: April 30, 2021 11:12AM

loislane Wrote:
> It's like everything you need to create drama is
> handed to you on a silver platter.

The cheap drama created by abuse.

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Posted by: loislane ( )
Date: April 30, 2021 11:54AM

Alas, the cheap drama takes an expensive toll on its victims, of which I am one.

This is the ex-Mormon forum. Having been ex'd, I am as ex'd as you can get.

But Mormonism (Yes, Moromonis, not COJCOLDS-ism) will always be a part of who I am, genetically and otherwise.

I have tried to rise above it, but I just can't.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: April 30, 2021 05:33PM

loislane Wrote:
> I have tried to rise above it, but I just can't.

Stop trying. You need not rise above it to reject it.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: April 30, 2021 05:59PM

It's wisdom like that that makes you a leader, whether you want to be or not.

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Posted by: csuprovograd ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 02:29PM

Jeremiah Johnson: “Injuns put you there?”
Del Gue: “Tweren’t Mormons...”

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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: April 30, 2021 07:56AM

This passage from Hawthorne, contrasting the older, merrier English religion of the Maypole with the grim, Puritan religion of the New World, reminds me that Mormonism’s beginnings go back past Utah, past Missouri and back to New England:

“Unfortunately, there were men in the new world, of a sterner faith than these May-Pole worshippers. Not far from Merry Mount was a settlement of Puritans, most dismal wretches, who said their prayers before daylight, and then wrought in the forest or the cornfield, till evening made it prayer time again. Their weapons were always at hand, to shoot down the straggling savage. When they met in conclave, it was never to keep up the old English mirth, but to hear sermons three hours long, or to proclaim bounties on the heads of wolves and the scalps of Indians. Their festivals were fast-days, and their chief pastime the singing of psalms. Woe to the youth or maiden, who did but dream of a dance! The selectman nodded to the constable; and there sat the light-heeled reprobate in the stocks; or if he danced, it was round the whipping-post, which might be termed the Puritan May-Pole.”

—Nathaniel Hawthorne—
—The May-pole Of Merry Mount (1836)—

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Posted by: loislane ( )
Date: April 30, 2021 03:35PM

I think the reason there are so few Mormon=themed novels these days is because there is SO MANY LDS and FLDS memoirs, and they provide drama no novel could compete with.

Anybody who is interested in Mormon True Crime, google "Faylene Grant" and you will read a true crime Mormon-oriented story as bizarre as any work of fiction.

Juan Martinez was the DA in that case, the same Juan Martinez from the Jodi Arias matter.

Poor Juan. I think he is sick and tired of all these Mormon criminals.

I'm sure lots of True Crime books have been written about Faylene Grant. (even her NAME sounds Mormon) but no need to fictionalize.

Of course Lori Vallow trumps everyone, and she could face charges in Arizona, and if Juan Martinez gets chosen as the DA, the poor man might just retire.

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Posted by: Brady Udall fan ( )
Date: May 01, 2021 04:52AM

Have a look at Brady Udall. He is an active member but he is a decent writer and has been compared favorably with Dickens and John Irving, as well as being published in major magazines. His novels "The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint" and "The Lonely Polygamist" give a pretty honest portrayal of Mormonism (although in Edgar Mint, it is a minor plot element - the main character encounters LDS.) Udall is one of the few people who can write about the LDS as an insider, but write about it convincingly. I tend to find a lot of Nevermos don't manage to "get" Mormonism or make rookie errors.

“We have always been threatened,” he said, “by anything that doesn’t fit squarely within our system of belief. Good art will always be complex, contradictory, and will resist easy judgment—all things that would make any good Mormon nervous.”

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: May 01, 2021 10:47AM

It's saturated with mormon history, customs, and doctrine about a girl being forced to marry an aging "prophet," and the historic police investigations going on during that time.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/01/2021 12:41PM by Cheryl.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: May 01, 2021 11:02AM

Speaking of Ogden, did you know a young lady whose first name was spelled Dianne, who went on her mission to Mexico in 1964? Her last name ended in the same two consonants...

It's a curiosity question, to probe into the 'it's a small world' trope...

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: May 01, 2021 11:32AM

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