Wednesday, December 3, 2014

the good and bad of LDS fiction

Doug Thayer's, "Will Wonders Never Cease," is a fictional telling source of our Mormon culture. We follow Kyle, an adolescent through a near life death experience of falling into an avalanche. But more importantly, we read and see how his heart changes throughout the process.

This book would not have the same literary effect if the religious aspect wasn't involved. In  literary fiction, the author is able to bend reality of everyone's personality, how they portray their testimonies, how they react, and family relationships. Thayer's portrayal of Kyle and his family, is very similar to other Mormon families, but can be unashamed with its opinion, thoughts, and words, considering these are fictional characters.

I've read a decent amount of fictional and non-fictional LDS books. And both carry their own strengths and weaknesses. A potential problem for fictional LDS books is that it limits immediately the reading audience pool. To read LDS fiction, you have to a prior knowledge, and a certain mormon lingo. But, the advantage of fictional LDS is to also use it as a teaching tool for many unaware of our faith.

The difference between Thayer's novel and others is his heavy LDS emphasis in the text, where other books I've read, such as When the Bough Breaks and The Secret Journal of Brett Colton, written by Kay Lynn Mangum, has a small thread of LDS reference and presence streaming through the book--little enough that non-LDS can read and still understand.

Thayer's approach allows for us, as readers to more fully connect with Kyle and his experience because it may be similar to our lives or those we know. Through LDS fiction we are able to explore reaching to small or large audiences. 


  1. I agree that Mormon fiction has a pretty limited circulation among non-mormons and that the lingo and stories can seem unapproachable to non-members. A series like Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites, would be pretty confusing to anyone not familiar with the church. But I think, like you said, if provided with enough explanation and background these books could be an interesting way to learn more about the LDS experience.

  2. I would also agree that highly LDS beliefs in fiction could make it unapproachable to non-members, but I think Douglas Thayer does a good job of explaining LDS beliefs and doctrines in a non-confrontational way because Kyle is struggling with his testimony and has doubts. He isn't too "mormon-y" which I think is a good way for non-LDS to hear a lot about the doctrines of the gospel. What do you think Thayer's approach is, it wasn't very clearly mentioned? But I think you have wonderful insight as to the pros and cons of fictional mormonism.

  3. I felt that Thayer's novel managed to be very religious without being at all overt or preachy in its inclusion of religious content. One of the advantages of this style may be how much more honest and unassuming the product ends up being.

  4. I agree. His fiction was able to help large and diverse Mormon demographics.