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escape. Predictably, Lily uses sex as her way out. Again predictably, she becomes pregnant, has an abortion, an additional illicit love affair, and then meets the man whom she will marry, whose children she wUl bear. If this were a fiction narrative, the unremarkable plot would be a serious flaw. What makes this book a success is how Kirschner teUs LUy's story; the poems are powerful and moving, with the plot not so much narrated as evoked. Even weaker, seemingly plot-driven poems such as "Ordained to Mar with the Erotic" are redeemed by the poems that out of structural necessity must follow them, such as the amazing "At the Stone Zoo." The real treasure is the wonderful last section, where LUy must come to terms with both her past and her present. The playful eroticism of "The Red Door," the moving denouement of "Slow Risen Among the Smoke Trees," the tension (sexual and otherwise ) that infuses yet never overwhelms the almost dreamlike "Faux Doe" and "The Old Bear"—aU work together to create a LUy whobecomes real in our eyes and then transcends that reality, becoming, in the victory over her past, a moving symbol of human possibility in the face of any odds. (BM) Under the Banner ofHeaven by Jon Krakauer Doubleday, 2003, 372 pp., $26 In 1984 Ron and Dan Lafferty murdered their sister-in-law and her baby daughter. They were not motivated by sex, money or drugs; they killed their kin because they had received a direct order from God to do so. Yet the brothers were not judged crazy. As fundamentalist Mormons, they often received direct orders from God. Having grabbed our attention with this story, Krakauer returns to the murder at intervals throughout the book. Most of his fascinating nonfiction book, however, is about the history of Mormonism,especiallythebreakaway polygamist, fundamentalist Mormons. As Wallace Stegner said, Mormons are so peculiar that it's almost impossible to write fiction about them. In this era of political correctness, it's also difficult to write nonfiction about them, but Krakauer succeeds, partly by using the same plain, candid style of his two previous books, Into the Wild and Into Thin Air. Given the worldwide size and rate of increase of the Mormon Church, Mormonism may fairly claim to be the first major religion established since Islam—a faith with which it shares simUarities. Mormonism is also a peculiarly American religion. There are an inordinate number of failed pioneer farmers among its founders; its early adherents kept moving west until they reached territory that they believed no one else wanted. The first governor of Utah was a Mormon patriarch. The Book of Mormon identifies American Indians as Lamanites, a disfavored tribe of Israelites who slaughtered aU the legendary, lighter-skinned aboriginal Mormons. Krakauer pays special attention to fundamentalist Mormons, a surprising number of whom still exist in isolated parts of North America and who are distinguished by their loyalty to God's original intentions as revealed to Joseph Smith—most 200 · The Missouri Review famously, the institution of polygamy . Fundamentalists foUow a strict sexual code; polygamy seems to be a socialization of male adulterous impulses at the cost of female autonomy . They tend to ignore secular laws, disregarding taxes and licenses, except (many people charge) insofar as they can work the social welfare system to their advantage. They are the frequent recipients ofdivine revelations, a disconcerting number of which are apocalyptic in nature. Clearly, Krakauer is still intrigued by extremism. Into Thin Air was about extreme mountaineering; the overlooked Into the Wild was about the tragic attempt of a young man to live off the land alone in Alaska. He writes elegantly, and this latest volume is nearly as good as Into Thin Air. Many outdoorspeople and Westerners will have spent some time in Mormon country without reaUy knowing, until they read this book, where they were; and many other readers will be alternately appalled and astonished by this account. (JS) Disappearing Ingenue: The Misadventures ofEleanor Stoddard by Melissa Pritchard Doubleday, 2002, 239 pp., $23.95 Disappearing Ingenue is Melissa Pritchard's fifth book of fiction and her third collection of award-winning stories, foUowing The...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 200-201
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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