Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Fiction as an Outlet for Authenticity

Fiction allows true aspects of LDS experience to be depicted in a light-hearted, humorous way that could be more difficult to accomplish in non-fiction. This is seen repeatedly in Doug Thayer’s novel: Will Wonders Never Cease. The principle of chastity is a big focus of many youth lessons and talks by leaders of the LDS church. This is conveyed in the novel through Lucille’s determined and constant efforts to teach Kyle, and other youth, sex-ed. She holds ward sex-ed meetings, she makes Kyle look up sexual words in the dictionary and discuss them with her and when she attends the 6th grade sex talk with him, she finds it to be woefully uninformative. This preoccupation with chastity is ingrained in Mormon culture and depicted in a somewhat humorous, exaggerated way in Thayer’s novel. It illustrates an authentic part of Mormon beliefs and youth life, while also making such a serious, heavy topic more approachable. And although it pokes some fun at this overzealousness, Kyle is also seen as a little grateful for this education because he doesn’t have the same confusion as his friends.

In the non-fiction genre, writers have to stick closely to the facts of a situation and leave out exaggerations. Additionally, in non-fiction writing such as a personal essay, writers may find it difficult to include personal flaws or the less flattering aspects of the church. The same perceptions that would be relatable and funny from fictional character may come across as deprecating or critical when expressed by a faithful member of the church, especially to a non-member audience. Also, personal essay writers may not want to offend those close to them by disclosing their unfiltered perceptions and judgments. Kyle, on the other hand, is allowed to share his unfiltered thoughts and comment on his mother, father, brothers and friends without fear of giving offence because he is a fictional character, not a real person consciously sharing a life experience.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely agree that it is easier to point out flaws humorously in fictional works, and just easier to bring them up in general. I found that when writing my personal essay I was constantly having to battle with how far to go, especially since I wrote about family members, and anything I say is also clearly a reflection on me. In fiction, the writer has more of a buffer from the reader in that way.