032) Mormon X: Confessions of a Latter-day Mutant by Ben Christensen, finished May 8

This roman à clef slash allegory about a young BYU student has been interesting to watch unfold. I think I knew where it would end up before the author did (or at least before the author admitted he knew where it would end up. And it's been interested to watch the MoHo community come out and support the book. Ben consulted with me regarding the ethics of letting people assume the book was in fact about a Now! BYU student and he followed my advice, but catching up now on the last couple weeks of posts, there are a number of commenters who seem so emotionally involved in the story that I wonder, retroactively, if some sort of disclaimer mightn't have been more appropriate. Ah well.

At any rate, I imagine this book will be more successful at proselytizing young Mormons to atheism than to the mutant lifestyle. It is certainly a trememdous piece of propaganda though, largely because of its honesty and "real"ness from the very beginning. Real characters undergoing real change will always inspire readers to feel as they feel.

I anticipate the posts being collected and reformatted and released as an ebook in the near future. So if you don't like reading backwards, you will soon be in luck.
just under six months


031) Consenting Adults; or, the Duchess Will Be Furious by Peter De Vries, finished May 6

I can't remember how I heard about De Vries even though it was only a month ago. Looking at him online now, I suspect I decided to read him as America's funniest-yet writer of religion. But the local library system is down to two volumes---neither of which, do I think, is specifically religious. But the two left are the one about sex (this one) and the one with the best title. So I checked them out.

It's a classic example of midcentury humor and thus can largely be skimmed. The character is erudite and much too aware of it and while amusing, it is also tiring.

The other worth-talking-about aspect of this book is its engagement with changing sexual mores. It's aged peculiarly and makes me wonder if writing about contemporary sexual mores will always be the surest way to age a book. That said, he did hit upon some [I refuse to commit to any particular adjective] ways to describe acts of hankypanky. E.g.:
What memories. Snooky laughing gently as I reached my peaks, with a woman's deep, deep joy at bringing a man to such ecstasy. Snooky drinkiing off a last lingering dewdrop, squeezing it forth like sap from a flower stem. She said she plagiarized the gesture from Lady Chatterly's Lover, though I have scoured my copy in vain for the precedent.
I don't know how our angry duchess compares to the prurient novels of Roth or Updike, but there you go.

As a novel, the structure seemed bad. The bulk of the novel is in the smalltown Midwest, then our hero goes to New York where the same laws of nature and expectation do not seem to apply as the plot speeds up without going anywhere (while going everywhere simultaneously)---the universe existing primarily, it seems, to fit in such un-fit-in set pieces as satire on the theater, two men and a woman, and a man with triplets. Almost as if he'd conceived the book purely as a vehicle for those sex scenes (the flapcopy backs this theory up) and so he had to cram them in at the end. That's what happens when you spend too many scores of pages engaging in humorous rhetoric.

Anyway. I imagine I would enjoy his nonfiction more.
about a month


030) The Sleep of Reason edited by C. Spike Trotman, finished April 30

I put some money towards this on Kickstarter and almost immediately started to regret it. At first, I figured it wouldn't make its goal and so this was just a vote for comics. Then it made it and the updates kept coming, but instead of getting excited, pretty much everything I saw made me dread the final product. (And not in a good way.) It finally arrived with its hideous cover and I stuck it on a shelf and it might have remained their forever except the shelf was getting full and this is a big book, so I took it off and gave it a read.

And holy crap but if it isn't the best horror anthology I've read in . . . . You know, as far as multi-creator collections go, I can't think of a better one. And I'm not talking exclusively comics here.

Twenty-six stories making up almost 360 pages of content and although there are a couple soft-hitters and a couple that require me to keep this book away from the kiddos, overall, this is a fine fine collection of scary stories and one I happily recommend to anyone interested in the intersection of comics and horror. Wildly original in several places and greatly divergent from each other. These stories are all over the place (in a good way).

Here's a quick flipthrough in spooky lowlighting:

just under two weeks


029) Ruby's Secret by Heather B. Moore, finished April 12

The movie would be better than the book. See more at the AML blog.
weekish, moreish


Previously in 2014 . . . . :

Books 22 - 28
028) Road to Bountiful by Donald S. Smurthwaite, finished April 7
027) Atlas of Prejudice: Mapping Stereotypes, Vol. 1 by Yanko Tsvetkov, finished April 6
026) Thelwell Country by Norman Thelwell, finished April 6
025) The House at Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor, finished March 31
024) Barnaby, Volume One by Crockett Johnson, finished March 17
023) A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver, finished March 17
022) Irene #3 edited by dw, Andy Warner, Dakota McFadzean; finished March 15

Books 18 - 21
021) Love Letters of the Angels of Death by Jennifer Quist, finished March 14
020) The Iowa Baseball Confederacy: A Novel by W. P. Kinsella, finished March 12
019) The Complete Peanuts: 1989 - 1990 by Charles M. Schulz, finished March 11
018) Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poppypants by Dav Pilkey

Books 14 - 17
017) Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2: The Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers by Dav Pilkey, finished February 22
016) Who Was Jim Henson? by Joan Holub, finished February 18
015) The Reluctant Blogger by Ryan Rapier, finished February 15
014) The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell, finished February 14

Books 10 - 13
013) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, finished February 12
012) Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown, finished February 5
011) The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, finished January 27
010) The Complete Peanuts 1987-1988 by Charles M. Schulz, finished January 25

Books 6 - 9
009) Heat by Mike Lupica, finished January 22
008) Happy Birthday, Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel, finished January 21
007) Impasse by Kohl Glass (story by Jason Conforto), finished January 16
006) Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, finished January 16

Books 1 - 5
005) The Man Who Grew His Beard by Olivier Schrauwen, finished January 12
004) Pokémon Black and White, Vol. 1 by Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto, finished January 10
003) Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hick, finished January 7
002) The Drop by Michael Connelly, finished January 7
001) The Rejection Collection, Vol. 2 edited by Matthew Diffee, finished January 6


  1. For a while there I was worried someone was going to call up the Honor Code Office or organize a protest or something. Oh well, it's done now.

    For the record, I always knew where it would end, more or less. At least I knew X would end up leaving the church and BYU, because I don't see staying in either as a fully self-realized mutant to be a tenable option, and the story was always about X achieving self-realization. But I didn't know how I'd get there until I did.

    I'm not sure how I feel about Mormon X being propaganda, even a tremendous piece of propaganda. Generally I'm not a fan of propaganda or proselytizing, although I wouldn't claim that I'm fully immune to the allure of either, so I won't deny your assessment of the result of my work even if that wasn't my (conscious) intent. Curiously, what makes it propaganda in your mind? Is there a way to make a character's conversion (in either direction) believable without making it propaganda? Not trying to be defensive, just genuinely curious in your perspective.

  2. Also, just under six months? Wow, it took you forever to read that one.

  3. .

    I mean propaganda in the least value-judgment way possible, though I know it's the sort of trigger word that means people will have a hard time believing me. It's generally a word to throw at someone you don't agree with, but that's a shame because it's has potential to be otherwise useful. I'm trying to redeem it, little by little. Only to undercut myself later by using it as everyone else does. Ah well.

    Anyway, all I meant was basically just what you said: the goal of self-realization necessarily requires certain correlative events. And I think whenever the only way to get to C is adding A and B, then that's inherently propagandaish.

    (Yes, 1+2=3, but so do 1.5+1.5 and 1+(-4) and 300/10 and √3(√3). Although X explores other options, I'm not sure the story really allows him to arrive anywhere but 1+2. But then fiction is inherently frozen, so this is an argument that can't be won. It's purely a matter of gut.)

  4. Okay, I see what you mean. The story is set up to convince the reader that X made the only choice he could, without recognizing the validity of other options. It's not set up as "X chooses one of many viable paths." I've even admitted above that I don't believe there are other viable paths, and of course I presented a world that conforms to my worldview.

    Knowing that it was coming from you, I really did take propaganda in the least value-judgment way possible, but I'm used to using it in the pejorative sense, so it took some brain twisting to make it work. I think I'm on the same page as you know. Except that 1+(-4) does not equal 3. It equals -3.

  5. And 300/10 is 30. Perhaps you should stay away from the math metaphors. ;)

  6. .

    Writers are the WORST.

  7. .

    Thinking they can do math.....

  8. .

    (I'm actually pretty embarrassed.)