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Rinaldo, "A Mormon Massacre" (reviewed by Marilyn Brown) Options · View
jeffneedle
Posted: Monday, February 04, 2013 12:24:15 PM

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Review
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Title: MORMON MASSACRE
Author: Joseph M. Rinaldo
Publisher: N/A  (Self-published)
Genre: Fiction
Year Published: 10/10/2012
Binding: Softbound and ebook
Number of Pages: 463
ISBN: N/A
Price: Book, $15.99, ebook, $7.99 paperback

Reviewed by Marilyn Brown for The Association for Mormon Letters

MORMONS PUT UP FOR SALE! CHEAP!

The way our Judeo-Christian culture seems to be disintegrating, not much is surprising anymore. But perhaps the novel, MORMON MASSSACRE, has hit an unusually sizzling level of pique as a new genre I will call (for the lack of a better term) SPOOFMANIA PROFANIA.

It was perfectly appropriate that I should read most of it on Groundhog Day, and emerge feeling like I ate a ground hog. I finished reading it upside down accompanied by strains of music from the Tabernacle Choir to induce the purge. (I remember getting through GRAVITY'S RAINBOW as quickly as I could, but I never outpaced some of the images.)

QUESTION: Are people reading crafted literature anymore when there's so much chicanery available on TV and the internet: the Ben Ghazdi intrigue, Manti's gay lover, a senator's trips to the Dominican Republic? If they do read fiction, do they increasingly want this kind of swift, TV-like, half-true shotgun shift of scenes? Most Amazon readers praised it! They must be "video-gamers" who can keep up with abrupt changes in focus, and scores of characters. I agreed with the reviewer who said it was a "struggle" to read.

However, the author is no intellectual slouch! Knowing how difficult it is to invent all of the pieces of an integrated story, keep so many characters in sight, and get everything to an acceptable finish line, I found the book to be clever. Except for a handful of errors, the writing seems competent.

But there is a burr under my saddle on this one. First, he chooses my culture and its organization to SPOOF and SENSATIONALIZE. And he employs the major mistake of my history (the Mountain Meadows Massacre) as a springboard.

I volunteered to review this book because of my "massacre" novel THE WINE-DARK SEA OF GRASS, published in 2001. I just wanted to "compare notes." The main character, a modern Jeremiah (a sometime heroic like the Biblical Jeremiah of my novel FIRES OF JERUSALEM) hates the Mormons because they killed a multi-great grandfather of his in this massacre. So Jeremiah joins an underground sting operation to route out the "Prophet Michael" who is re-instituting public polygamy and blood atonement, likening it to Brigham Young's "evil" which his secretary kept secret. Of course the "Modern Mormon leaders" in this story have all along been living with several wives already, and their kinky "creative" sexual activity and debauchery are recounted with explicit relish.

My greatest concern is for the modern readers who say, "I really enjoyed the historical aspect of learning more about the Mormon faith," or "The book's depiction of aspects of the Mormon religion were supported by the research I did in preparation for this review." One wrote, "This book reveals parts of the Mormon faith that I find shocking." Wisely reserving judgment, another writes: "I'm not sure how much of the book is fact and how much is fiction."

The most serious problem as I see it lies in this last comment. The research about the massacre is fairly accurate, though one-sided; he uses Church buildings and Salt Lake landmarks as accurate props; and people occasionally say things like, "No other church directs its members to serve the people like the Mormon Church." But he also casts a male and female as missionary companions (missionary work includes sex); uses "ministers" instead of "bishops" and employs many other contortions of "Mormon-Speak." Perhaps the most telling statement of the author's own position comes from one of the law men: "He thumbed through a copy of the BOOK OF MORMON wondering how people could be so easily fooled by a bad carnival sideshow. Golden plates, seer stones, and visions mixed together in the right proportion must be pretty powerful stuff for the weak-minded."

My concern is that, like Ben Ghazi, Manti's gay, and Armstrong's denials, this kind of half-truth is dangerous and unfair. He is using our culture to SELL a SPOOFMANIA PROFANIA. As one reviewer points out, if he had done the research of, say, a Dan Brown, we might be more respectful. In a review I wrote of David Ebershoff's well-researched NINETEENTH WIFE, I was able to offer honest praise. I'll admit, sometimes the SPOOF is very funny, and I just may be talking from a different generation. But to me it all tasted quite a bit like a ground hog.
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