Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ramblings on The Lonely Polygamist

So, here I am two days in a row thinking about writing something about The Lonely Polygamist. Not so much writing about it as writing a review of it, but perhaps that's a difference without substance. It would be easier just to stare out the window and watch the clouds float by in the deep blue sky. Of course, that would be easier than just about anything else anyway.

Brady Udall wrote The Lonely Polygamist. Udall is a big name in Mormon country. There are some famous names in government with that surname. It's a big name in Arizona, where I guess most of the Udalls of Mormon heritage hangout. Well, that's my generalization. None of that, however, has much to do with the novel, except to some degree relative to, perhaps, its setting in the desert somewhere not far from Las Vegas. Maybe Brady Udall had some history, some ancestry, of sorts, or perhaps even some contemporary members of the extended family who engaged in the practice of polygamy. (Why do people have to practice polygamy? We don't go around saying we practiced monogamy, do we? We just simply say we're monogamists, if the subject comes up at all. Yet, there is something mighty strange about polygamy, you have to admit it.) So, perhaps Brady had a hankering to explore the subject and flesh out a character he could imagine being a polygamist in these modern times, even though probably his ancestors gave up the practice when the main body of Mormons did back at the turn of the twentieth century.

Who knows why a person stumbles onto a topic. I stumbled onto polygamy from a totally different perspective. I'm not aware of ancestors in my lineage who ever practiced polygamy, although it's entirely possible some of my early ancestors on my mother's side did --- it appears those ancestors were immigrants from Denmark, who came here and settled in Central Utah.

If I could talk with Brady on a casual level and sense somehow that I could ask him a question without giving any offense and having some self-assurance that I might get an honest answer, I'd ask to know how he came to the subject of polygamy.

I know how I came to it. A friend told me and my wife one Christmastime his wife was leaving him for a polygamist. All of the modern polygamists I knew anything about at the time were totally weirdos, meriting only disdain and mocking. I had read about them in the newspaper, because whatever antics they had been up to had merited a story, usually one on the front page of the newspaper or as a headline in the television news for some stupidity, including murder and intrigue. This couple, had a few kids, and there was no doubt that if momma left the daddy for a polygamist, the kiddies would suffer and be exposed to such idiocy.

How could I resist writing about such blather?

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