THE CANYONS OF GRACE: Stories by Levi S. Peterson


Email this review


Homiletic short stories concerning crises of faith among contemporary Utah Mormons--and though the characterizations are apt to be blinkered by preachment, the theological dialectic is scouting. Many of Peterson's protagonists consider crossing the line--out of traditional strictures, out of the faith, or out of God's sight. A man remembers the Baptist love of his youth, pregnant by him, whom-upon God's ""No""--he knew he did not love. In France a young Mormon missionary worries over ""the disjunction between himself and God""--until the very real suffering and madness of a Mormon girl (who has had an abortion) merges with a Louvre painting of the Trinity into a unifying image of ""colossal grief."" An elderly man returns to Utah after 45 years in a Gentile world, sees his family as smug ""weakhearts, loath to admit that one passed to heaven only in horror and blood,"" but is soon enlightened. And, in the title tale, archaeologist Arabella Gurney, 31, is attracted to a forbidden science-believer, and must therefore ""confront God"" and the uncompromising Mormon Word--in the mythic person of patriarch/prophet Reuben, whom she will symbolically kill. Admittedly, there's little humor here (one heavyhanded sketch of a church hell-raiser). And the characters barely mumble through the thunder of message. But, for those attuned to ideological debate, these are spirited statements about those who take the easy-packaged Sanka way to righteousness; those battering against, with various degrees of understanding, the imposing, demanding walls of orthodoxy; and those who cannot walk comfortably and unseeing within them.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1982
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois Press