The Book of Mormon by Noah Van Sciver
This is a continuation of Noah's Joseph Smith biography (I think---I didn't ask him . . . maybe I should have) that started in the previous issue. Like that one, Noah's take on familiar Mormon stories are fresh and push me out of my regular understanding. It's tempting to pin this on his own tumultuous history with the Church (splitting, as it did, his family in two, with mom and kids going one way, dad and kids going another), but it might simply be true that he has a talent for finding fresh angles to tell stories that, while important, are often tired.
With this three-page telling of the Book of Mormon, he's in top form. But pause for a second and consider: how would you sum it up in three pages of comics?
Here's how Noah did it:
1½ pages of First Nephi
¼ page of Second Nephi
⅜ page of Third Nephi
⅛ page of Fourth Nephi (v20)
⅜ page of wiping the Nephites out
In related news, directly behind this month's table of contents is a poem by Paul Swenson (featured in Fire in the Pasture, natch) in response to the first installment of Van Sciver's Joseph Smith series (reviewed here).
It's pretty good. And, perhaps, the first time a significant Mormon poet has responded to Mormon comics. So there's that.
Return of the Native by Levi S. Peterson
To start, I've not the Hardy novel. I can't make connections for you.
So instead let me start by quoting Peterson's first paragraph.
The Phoenix-bound plane was airborne before I allowed myself to consider the negatives of what I was doing. I told my stepdaughter who lives in Seattle and outright lie about my destination, saying I was flying to Corvallis to visit an old buddy from my Navy days. I knew I would have to expand on that lie when my wife, on a cruise with her sisters, got around to calling me. Even worse, I would have to expand on the lie I had been telling myself for a long time, that there was no resemblance between who I'd become and the fifteen-year-old kid who forced himself on his first cousin in a barn back in 1951.Now that's an opening paragraph.
I'm ashamed to admit how little of Peterson's fiction I've read. If my memory's accurate, this is only the second story of his I've read (the first was "Brothers" in Dispensation), but both have been terrific. This particular story has a very steady pace and is always heading to a certain collision, but whether the collision will happen or what it will mean remain unclear until the closing moments. And that moment has an earned beauty I recommend to all.