BONES by Franklin Fisher


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Fisher's first novel--about a visionary torn between art, lust, and Mormonism--is a cleareyed portrait of Mormon culture, but overall it's patchy as literature, encumbering a dark-night-of-the-soul passage with much bagginess. Lorin Hood--in the process of breaking up with Yvonne--""was always excited when Yvonne talked about penises"" and ""got excited when he imagined Yvonne in bed with other men."" No wonder, then, that poor Yvonne turns up with another woman. Lorin also has angelic visitations and a sense of mission. He struggles with the conflict between his Mormon heritage and his painting, as well as with his personal entanglements in California, only for so long before deciding to ditch it all for the life of a missionary in southeast Michigan. The meat of the story then describes in arresting detail the process of ""tracting,"" whereby young missionaries (who are never allowed to leave each other's sights) go seeking converts. Lorin and his partner find the Klings, Alice and Richard. Eventually they convert both (despite some devil-talk and an exorcism), whereupon Lorin's partner gets food poisoning and Richard goes out of town on business. Convenient: Lorin and Alice get it on, Richard finds out, and Lorin, charged with adultery, meets an inquisition committee and is thrown out of the church. No problem. He goes off to California, lives wretchedly in his car but emerges finally from degradation and a sort of psychosis to hold his first gallery exhibit, where he turns primordial chaos into art. Pared down, this overlong novel would have made a taut novella.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1990
Publisher: Univ. of Utah Press