Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My hero, Brady Udall

It just so happens that I get to schedule a number of authors whose books I love (see: Sam Lipsyte, Lorrie Moore). Sometimes it works the other way around: a publicist will approach me about an author I'm not familiar with, I'll set something up, they'll send me the book and I'll love it.

Such was the case with Brady Udall. To say I loved The Lonely Polygamist is a bit of an understatement. In fact, I am fully confident that it is a work of rare novelistic genius.

I will admit I was drawn to this book because it is about polygamist fundamentalist Mormons. Ever since reading Jon Krakauer's book Under the Banner of Heaven, I have been enthralled by polygamy, Joseph Smith, and special underwear. And then Big Love happened, and soon became my second-favorite TV show of all time (first place: Six Feet Under).

Needless to say I was pumped when I read a title with "polygamist" in it. I was a little scared, too. Polygamy seems like it would be a tough subject to tackle, even if, like Brady Udall, you grew up in the Mormon church and spent a couple years living on a polygamist compound doing research.

My fears were for naught. This book is ridiculously great. It's a weird, terrific pastiche of John Irving, Cormac McCarthy, Katherine Dunn, Joy Williams, and Shelley Jackson's grossly under-appreciated novel Half Life. It's funny how the best books reduce me to the stupidest cliches. I laughed and I cried. The characters were so real! Some of these scenes will stay with me forever.

The "official" reviews aren't out yet, but advance buzz is promising. I'd like to see someone try to tell me this book isn't great. I'd recommend The Lonely Polygamist to those who like any of the following: Mormons, feelings and books.

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