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Jerry Ball (Dexter Circle)
- Publié sur Amazon.com
...Card explores human relationships against a background of Mormon issues and I think does a first-rate job of bringing characters to life in a short story context, which is no easy achievement.
I found his "Author's Note" to be a little intimidating, to find out that he and these stories have been critiqued by some of the best writers, so who am I to criticize his writing? Actually, I'll tell you: I'm someone that actually pays money for his books, that's who. Anyhow, let me run down the plots of each of the stories and give you my rating of them, in true U.S. Navy fashion, of Outstanding, Excellent, Good, Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory.
"West." The plot: In a post-nuclear exchange, a group of Mormons fleeing persecution travels from North Carolina to Utah; along the way, they meet up with a guide who helps them; the guide has his own emotional problems, which the Mormons help heal. The storyline reminds me of Stephan King's "The Stand," but the characters are pure Card. One of the most enduring themes of the Mormon culture is the idea of persecution, and Card feasts on this idea like a vulture on carrion. Along the way he creates a fairly believable 20th/21st century re-creation of the flight from Nauvoo and persecution of 160 years prior. Rating: Excellent.
"Salvage." The plot: in post-nuclear exchange Utah, the Mormon temple has become flooded; a non-Mormon dives to find supposed buried treasure hidden within, but instead only finds written prayers on metal that Mormons have dropped inside. I'm ambivalent about this story. On the one hand, it is heavy-handed in its juxtaposition of spiritual and physical treasure. On another level, it's very appealing to see a simple written expression of faith (what Brazilians call a "voto") from people who have suffered to keep that faith alive. Rating: Excellent.
"The Fringe." The plot: in post-nuclear exchange Utah, a teacher suffering from ALS discovers that the spiritual leader of his small town/commune is stealing vital foodstuffs; he reports this to the authorities and is almost killed as a result. I liked this story much more than probably anyone without a Mormon background. Mormons are in general very politically conservative, and were reliably anti-communist during the Cold War. Yet they also lived, for a couple of decades after fleeing to Utah, the "United Order," which was close to pure communism. Card tries to reconcile the past by setting it in the post-nuclear exchange future, an interesting plot device. The story itself is very entertaining and internally consistent. Rating: Excellent.
"Pageant Wagon." The plot: in post-nuclear exchange Utah, the state's seeming sole non-Mormon falls in with a dysfunctional family of itinerant pageant performers. Character development in the story was good, but I couldn't really relate to the underlying story of pageant performers. In his "Author's Note," Card admitted he was drawing on his own experience with itinerant pageant production back in the 70s, and it just is not something to which I can really relate. Sorry. Rating: Satisfactory.
"America." The plot: in the pre-nuclear exchange era, an American boy in Brazil falls into the company of an older Native American prophetess; years later, after the nuclear war, their son becomes the leader of an America that has been taken from the control of the white race ("Europeans") and returned to the Indians. The story is a really marvelous blend of religious allegory, magic realism and science fiction. An exposition of this story is found in Michael Colling's "Afterword" to the book that does justice to its different aspects. However, one thing that Mr. Colling does not point out is that Quetzalcoatl, the new American messiah, is himself a mestizo, and that redemption for the people of the Americas comes through neither one race or the other, but through both. As a "European" married to a Brazilian of indigenous descent, I find this aspect of the story to be particularly relevant and appealing. But maybe I'm just reading my own biases into the story. Read for yourself and decide. Rating: Outstanding.