So. Orson Scott Card.
I should start by acknowledging that he and I have a lot in common, lest I be accused of ignorant favoritism. We're both Mormon, BYU alums, returned missionaries, a little snotty in our opinions, and strong in the faith that art and commerciality are not divorced.
That said, if you can respect my opinion, I believe that he is the best writer currently working in the English Language. I'm not saying he hasn't had misfires, but I don't see how anyone can read, say, Speaker for the Dead, and not agree that it is the work of a true master.
My first exposure to----
PAUSE: Sorry, but I can't decide how to refer to the man. OSC is silly. Card is overly formal. Scott is too personal. Hmmm. Well. What the hey. I'll say Scott.
My first exposure to Scott's work was not through his fiction however--I was aware of it (Ender's Game was my best friend's favorite book)--but had never read any. So my first exposure to his work was reading my parents' copy of A Storyteller in Zion, given to them by my beloved grandmother and, to the best of my knowledge, never read by anyone but me and my writer brother Wyote.
I have since read the book several times, have checked it out from more than one library, have purchased my own copy. To say that it has influenced my aesthetic sensibilities is to say earthquakes have influenced the landscape of my homestate. That book has been hugely influential, to the point where I can no longer be sure what my prior opinions were.
Anyway, I still haven't made it to the damning o' Scott, so let me move on.
One year Lady Steed and I purchased Sarah for my mother for Christmas. And she loved it. My sister Canary revealed last night that she despised the book because she found the characterization unrealistic. Fine criticism. Then she told us she dismissed Ender's Game also, this time because of language. That I can accept also, to a point, but this is where the conversation broke down.
I refused to dismiss an author that prefers honesty over an empty purity, but this was not a position easily defended. My mom took on Scott's "split personality", writing one thing for his LDS audience and another for his "worldly" audience. My father was similarly appalled that alleged Saints could justify even a single damn in their fiction.
The best defense, in my mind, is that an author's job is to tell true stories. But this is not seen as a tenable position by people who can't get over the fact that fiction is nothing more than a pack of lies.
So while they're happy for me selling my first book, and even though my work, as a whole, is remarkably clean, how long till I join the ranks of Mormon authors generally assumed to be apostate ne'er-do-wells who sold their soul for fame and glory? How long till I am diagnosed with a split personality and worldliness and evil? How long till I am damned?
At this point, if I were a student, I would delve into Storyteller and start quoting things like "There are three types of evil in relation to fiction: Evil depicted in fiction. Evil advocated by fiction. Evil enacted by fiction." or "The criticism always boiled down to the idea that I had shown ugly things on stage.... Didn't I realize that a true Latter-day Saint artist would not make his audience think of ugly or difficult things...?"
But I am not a student and I'm not trying to argue my point to absolute victory.
What I am doing is making something of a statement on where I stand. And this is it:
♦ - It is the responsibility of the artist to tell the truth (even within a pack of lies).
♦ - Sometimes telling the truth is not the pretty and feel-good thing to do.
♦ - I intend to tell the truth.
♦ - And if I go to hell, maybe I can hang with Scott, and we can tell each other stories.