Irreantum 14.1


Although, traditionally, I only intend to write about the fiction when I get a new Irreantum, I will need to address some of the poetry and essays that refuse to be ignored. Fiction first, but I will be brief that I may hit all points.

"Conference" by William Morris
I'll admit my first layer of thinking about "Conference" consister in large measure of "How dare he write the sort of story I am trying desperately never to write again?" Which is hardly a fair spot to begin judging a work on its merits.

So never mind the fact that much of this story takes place in the protag's head as she debates the lousy options she feels life is providing her. Or, rather, let's not never mind them, but accept them and be glad someone else is writing them instead of me.

I'll admit I'm not sure what I am meant to take from this story even though it is clear our protagonist does have a victory of some sort. The sort of victory I might expect from a protagonist of Melissa Leilani Larsen's, which should be taken as high praise indeed.

Like much of Mel's work (both plays here, for instance), William is aptly drawing a woman trapped in the liminal spaces left for (especially single) women in Mormonism. She's trapped in no-man's-land (unfortunate pun)---an observer struggling to be more fully an actor. Whose triumphs can be disrupted by those who will never have to navigate her space.

And with that, I'm already failing to be succinct.

"The End of Happy Endings" by Courtney Miller Santo
I just picked up Santo's new book largely on the strength of her last Irreantum tale, and this story makes me want to drop all the Important Stuff and Already Begun Books and get to it right away. A brilliantly drawn and layered story of a woman who kills a dog and tries to save a soul and the spiritual and emotional whirlpool these opposing fronts result in.

There. That's what brief looks like.

"The Sinkhole" by Larry Menlove
I'm a fan of one Menlove story I've read and not so much the other. And how does this tiebreaker fair?

Quite well.

I will admit the tidy way all the threads come together is a bit much, even with a nod at them, but still: it's hard to bicker over such a demonstration of craft. This is a story I could present my AP kids and they could do marvels with it. While leaving plenty behind for the professionals to uncover still.

I don't know that "too perfect" is a substantial enough complaint, so let's just say this midcentury Montana tale fits snakes (with their symbolic weight), a halfbreed (with all his symbolic weight), a blonde girl (ditto), a Jack Mormon (ditto), and other plainfaced symbols (that function solidly as their realworld counterparts as well) around none-too-subtle centerpiece of a sinkhole.

Holy smokes, but the more I think about it, the more every single bit of everything in this tale is a loaded symbol. The fossils! The dead horse! The placement of the wound! Et cetera!

I really should seriously consider teaching this story. If you can't analyze this thing, there is something wrong with your analyzer.

And with that, I think I'll postpone the rest of my Irreantum discussion until Wednesday.



  1. On Sunday I almost picked up Irreantum and took it church instead of my lesson manual. That would have been interesting. I have read the fiction so now I can comment.

    1. I really liked "Conference". And I realize that most of my affinity for it is the fact that I have been a female Mormon graduate student in Humanities, and I have been to conferences, and many of my friends are Mormon women who are grad students, single or otherwise. And I understand the tensions in the space of being female, single, Mormon, a grad student, and so on. So,the story resonated with me on a very personal level, but I also think it was well-written (and I appreciated reading the liner notes too--thanks for the link).

    2. I am trying to like Courtney Miller Santo's work and I'm trying to figure out why I don't like it, because everyone else does and I feel like a party pooper. Again, I think it just might be personal preference about the types of people and situations she writes about. I don't know. Perhaps I should read her book.

    3. I had the same feelings about Menlove's story--I enjoyed it immensely while being fully aware of the high level of craft and the rather neat little ending. I think it fits in well with Scott Parkin's recent post at the AML blog about messages in fiction.

  2. .

    2. It's okay. I've been the pooper on other writers. I know what it's like.

    3. I'm going to finish Scott's post with that in mind. (I was interrupted earlier.)

  3. Foxy: it's okay ive got a long list of dislikes myself.
    th--I'm annoying the mailman with my wait for my issue as I'm dying to read both of these stories

  4. .

    Why are you the last person to get one???

  5. .

    [Edit: I changed the date of the next post to Wednesday and added a link thereunto.]