Have You Found Your Mormon Shorts?

The Mormon Shorts I’m talking about are found in Scott Hales’s book of comics and micro-fiction of the same name. (Yes, the Scott Hales of The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl fame.) This collection brings together 50 comics from the first year of Scott’s new webcomic, Mormon Shorts, and 150 micro-stories from the @mormonshorts Twitter account. It is 100 pages of humorous cultural commentary on Mormon life, past and present.

Mormon Shorts

I bought both the print book and the ebook. The structure of the print book is nice because on one page you have one or more micro-stories and on the other you have a comic. It was a nice balance. For obvious reasons, the ebook cannot reproduce this structure. In the ebook, the comics come first and the micro-fiction last. Either way, it’s a great and quick read.

Mormon Shorts is funny. To get the humor, it helps to be familiar with Mormon cultural references, but I suspect that even those not of the Mormon faith may be humored not only by some of the comics, but also by some of the things Mormons worry about. The very first comic, for example, presents a young return-missionary who takes 740 days (that’s another two years beyond his mission period of two years) to give up his white shirt and clean-shaven look.

In Mormon Shorts, key figures in Mormon history (Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and others) make guest appearances. One of my favorite series of comics, the Father’s Lounge is the venue for Sunday philosophizing by fathers holding infants. It often features two men trying to outdo each other while discussing the topic at hand. In another comic, the Abrahamic mummy appears wearing sunglasses and discussing faith crises. The micro-fiction has nice juxtaposition between what is the norm in Mormon culture and a different, funny punch line that often you don’t see coming. Most of the comics or micro-stories are funny, but some are serious and contemplative. Scott Hales even appears in his comics as himself sometimes.

Here are a few of my favorite shorts:

His life was an endless cycle of meetings and two-minute devotionals.

Janice broke her fast halfway through bearing her testimony to the congregation.

He greeted every member of the ward with a handshake and a smile—except Brother Giles, who had denounced him as a communist back in ’52.

In the end they decided they loved each other, but not eternally.

He wanted to feel the freedom of swearing like J. Golden Kimball.

Nathan had not realized that he lived in an R-rated world until he accidentally saw an R-rated movie.

The new baby looked uncannily like the more flattering pictures of Eliza R. Snow.

There are many more just as funny. I recommend this book of comics for its humor and wit. If you want to see more of Scott Hales’s work, check out The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl also.

Now, go get your shorts on at Amazon.

If you’ve read Mormon Shorts, share what you think about it in the comments below.

What Happened at the 2015 AML Conference?

Last Saturday, the Association for Mormon Letters (AML) held their annual conference at Utah Valley University. Unlike previous years, it was a one-day affair, instead of two, but despite its reduction in scale, it was a lot of fun and well worth the four hours. I’m sure that many will join with me in extending a heartfelt thanks to James and Nicole Goldberg for their efforts to organize the conference and bring it off so smoothly. Continue reading “What Happened at the 2015 AML Conference?”

Review: Dorian

Dorian by Nephi Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been reading a lot of Mormon Literature lately. Just in the past few months I have finished Doug Thayer’s The Tree House, Todd Robert Petersen’s Rift, Nephi Anderson’s Added Upon, and now, his Dorian. I plan to make my way through the curriculum for a 15-week course on the Mormon novel, as suggested by Scott Hales at A Motley Vision. (I’ve expanded it to 17 weeks to capture a couple more recent works, but let’s be honest here, I’m not completing the required reading in a matter of weeks. Too slow.) Continue reading “Review: Dorian”

Review: Seize the Day

Seize the Day
Seize the Day by Saul Bellow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anymore, I read novels to learn how authors handle narrative structure and pace, characterization, and point of view. Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day is an excellent course of study in these elements of novel writing.

The novel follows a day in the life of Tommy Wilhelm Adler, a middle-aged man who is one of the most down-on-his-luck characters I’ve ever read about in Literature. As a young man, under the spell of a shyster talent agent and against the advice of his parents, he went off to Hollywood with aspirations to be a big star. Several years later he returns home to New York, his biggest claim to fame being an extra on a set. He marries, has two children, and settles into a life as a traveling salesman for a corporation. His initial failure in Hollywood gnaws at him Continue reading “Review: Seize the Day”

Review: Stoner

Stoner by John Edward Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I came to Stoner by way of the Web site http://conversationalreading.com/. Scott Esposito recommended it, so I decided to put it on my list and recently found the time to read it.

Stoner is the life story of one William Stoner, a farm boy who left the rural life behind and became a professor of literature at a small university in Missouri in the early twentieth century. His life is a series of disappointments, however, and the work left me wondering about the weight of a life lived with little or no worldly recognition. Not that such a legacy of recognition is everything. In the first few paragraphs the scope of Stoner’s life is set, and his mark on the world seems so limited, like a footprint in melting snow, yet the author writes 200 plus pages about this “insignificant” man. So I read on. Continue reading “Review: Stoner”