Mormons and Full Frontal Snogging — UPDATED

Now, with the relevant link.

Leah Libresco discusses an article that asks, why is it that there are so many Mormons in genre fiction? Certainly there are, and they include some of my favorites, including Orson Scott Card and Brandon Sanderson. (L.E. Modesitt is also a favorite, but although he lives in Utah and has written a couple of books that riff on Mormonism, I don’t know whether he’s a Mormon or not.) And then of course there’s Stephenie Meyers’ sparkly vampires. One conjecture the article’s author makes is this:

But there is a specifically Mormon logic to the trend, too. Realist literature for adults often includes aspects of adult life like sex and drinking, and the convention is to describe them without judgment, without moralizing. By writing for children and young adults — or in genres popular with young people — one can avoid such topics. Mormon authors can thus have their morals and their book sales, too.

Leaving the patronizing tone aside, I don’t know whether fiction by Mormon authors does in general eschew sex and drinking; Sanderson’s work doesn’t, though I can’t think of any instances of graphic sex in his books.

But really, why is graphic sex required in genre fiction? It’s undeniably there; Leah notes that she’s

..surprised how often the books I remember reading and loving as a young adult (Edward Eager, The Melendy Family, So You Want to Be a Wizard, A Series of Unfortunate Events, anything by Tamora Pierce, etc) have been moved over to the children’s section to make more room for paranormal romance on the YA shelves.

It’s hard not to get the impression that sex and romance is the qualifier for moving up the shelves.

Seems to me that it is; and this is the same trend that Sarah Hoyt noted a few weeks ago. And frankly, I’m agin it.

Seriously. I’ve got four kids. I know how it all works; I really don’t need it described to me. I’d much rather pick up The Lord of the Rings and read about huge tracts o’ land than read about So-and-So’s huge…well, take your pick. I’ve already stated my choice. And perhaps Mormon authors feel the same way.

Oh, and by the way: if I describe a book as “Young Adult” or “YA”, I mean “suitable for young adults and older children,” by which I mean I might read it aloud to my kids. Teenage vampire porn ain’t on the table.

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  • Heather

    The “YA” shelves have been something of a wasteland for a long time. The “9-12″ section is where all the good stuff is, and that’s been the case for at least as long as I’ve been a reader. You kind of have to skip over YA and head straight for the “grown-up” genre shelves, otherwise you end up lost in a sea of dreadful coming-of-age stories, romances, and teenybopper horror.

    • Will Duquette

      There are some good things. Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching books appeared on the YA shelves, for example. I think Patricia Wrede’s “Thirteenth Child” trilogy did the same. But I’m quite willing to believe that these are exceptions.


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