2014-07-08

LDS Eros: Mo' Moriah, mo' Jovan

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055) Paso Doble by Moriah Jovan, finished July 7

If you're not familiar with Moriah's work, you might check out my reviews of The Proviso or Magdalene. Paso Doble shares their DNA. As with all the Dunham books, the lead characters are enormous, godlike figures who tower over the landscape. Victoria is a Dunham cousin and 1) a multilingual polymath and a leading scholar of ESL, 2) a wildly talented lounge singer, 3) the most beautiful woman in Europe. Emilio is a close friend and mentor to a Dunham cousin and 1) the greatest matador of his generation, 2) an exquisitely talented lovemaker, 3) a genius chemist. These are the sorts of things we expect from Jovan protagonists. But they are difficult characters to hate because they are also deeply flawed---and their flaws flow from their godlike attributes.

Victoria, aware is a genius and beautiful, pushes everyone's buttons. She can't get tenure and no man can put up with her. Especially since, as a devout Mormon, she's keeping her garments on until marriage. Most guys can't put up with her nearly long enough for that. Plus, she has very little patience for other people and, being incapable of taking offence, can very easily offend. She's become emotionally distant from just about everyone.

Emilio is also emotionally distant---he's as desired by the opposite sex, but his distance comes from frequent partaking. He has not room for emotional depth because he gives a little to so many. Plus, he's a natural introvert and finds people exhausting. His reputation as a notoriously sexed-up tabloid-popular matador gets him blacklisted from university jobs and he can't stand working as an assembly-line chemist. And so he's trapped in a glamorous career he's grown out of.

So these two sad and lonely gods must collide.

I've labeled this post part of the LDS Eros series because what I'm most interested in from a Mormon-literature standpoint is Moriah's navigation of this relationship between a "manslut" and an "ice-vagina." Or, more importantly, someone for whom sex has been cheap and someone who holds it so dear she demands another's life in exchange for access. (That might sound melodramatic, but I think it's a fair description of how it seems on the outside to many people.)

It's a clash of sexual cultures---and cultures that are diverging at speed. People embarrassed to be virgins at 20 are written about with the same bemused pity as those who choose virginity until marriage at age 29. We have two soulmates and the rules state they must get together. But in addition to the little navigations every relationship must make, they have a massive gulf between them called divergent sexual norms. And that's the most striking element of their story.

Additionally, speaking as a male writer, Moriah's descriptions of Victoria's (female) sexual need and confusion provide me with vocabulary I would not otherwise have. I know her work is too explicit for many Mormon writers, but I think you shoudl read her anyway. We need to deal with sexuality more as a people and reading her work is a great place to consider how it can be done. Even if most of us will not show her happy delight in the word cock.

So how does Paso Doble stack up against her other works? I've read the first three and (I'm well into the fourth and will start the sixth [about Victoria's twin] before the week is out) and I would rank the one's I've read this this (in terms of IMPORTANCE):
1. Magdalene
This is simply great literature. In my opinion, one of the most important Mormon books in recent memory.
2. The Proviso
A flawed novel, but massive in scale and quantity of ideas. My least favorite, but you can't deny its ambition.
3. Paso Doble
Charming fun. Interesting work with sexuality but clumsy in the penultimate chapters and while a delightful lark, not IMPORTANT.
3 (tie). Stay
Equal to Paso Doble, though cleaner in execution. More ideas here, less there. It's a wash.
In the end, Paso Doble is a fun read, especially if you like to laugh at the foibles of gods---while falling in love with them yourselves---and a useful read, if you want to think about ways to attack sex from a Mormon standpoint.
two months



Previously in 2014 . . . . :



Books 50 - 54
054) The Best of Connie Willis by Connie Willis, finished July 4
053) Battling Boy by Paul Pope, finished July 27
052) Prophet Volume 2: Brothers by Brandon Graham, Fil Barlow, Giannis Milongiannis, Simon Roy (Contributo, Farel Dalrymple; finished June 26
051) Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach, finished June 26
050) Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets by Dav Pilkey, finished June 24

Books 44 - 49
049) Big Nate: In the Zone by Lincoln Peirce , finished June 23
048) Lying by Sam Harris, finished June 23
047) Donald Duck Adventures 17, finished June 23
046) Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell, finished June 22
045) Swamp Thing (the New 52) Volume 1: Raise Them Bones by Scott Snyder, Yanick Paquette, Marco Rudy, finished June 21
044) The Antler Boy and Other Stories by Jake Parker, finished July 19

Books 40 - 43
043) Rachel Rising 1: The Shadow of Death by Terry Moore, finished June 16
042) Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World by Carl Hiaasen, finished June 9
041) Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher by Jake Parker, finished June 8
040) Silas Marner by George Eliot, finished June 5

Books 36 - 39
039) Screwed by by Tyler Kirkham, Keith Thomas, David Miller; finished June 3
038) Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, finished March 2
037) Missile Mouse: Rescue on Tankium3 by Jake Parker, finished May 30
036) Undeath & Taxes by Carter Reid, finished May 26 or maybe a couple days earlier

Books 33 - 35
035) Of Many Hearts and Many Minds: The Mormon Novel and the Post-Utopian Challenge of Assimilation by Scott Hales, finished May 22
034) Field Notes on Language and Kinship by Tyler Chadwick, finished May 21
033) The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson, finished May 20

Books 29 - 32
032) Mormon X: Confessions of a Latter-day Mutant by Ben Christensen, finished May 8
031) Consenting Adults; or, the Duchess Will Be Furious by Peter De Vries, finished May 6
030) The Sleep of Reason edited by C. Spike Trotman, finished April 30
029) Ruby's Secret by Heather B. Moore, finished April 12

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

3 comments:

  1. .

    The similarities/differences between Victoria and Magdalene's Mitch could make for an interesting conversation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mitch doesn't have Asperger's. ;)

      Delete