Saturday, June 2, 2012


This is a novel to Peck at. Peckishly, perhaps. To cluck at, to cock a doodle do to.

Compiled by a Redactor, who is in a way, its Nick Carraway or Scout Finch, THE SCHOLAR OF MOAB is not the type of fiction that you want to wolf down. Savoring it is certainly the preferred method of consumption. In fact, as you try to digest it, you may want to eat gravel for your gizzard to make sure everything you've pecked up comes out ground down to a movable mass. You don't want it to get stuck in there. I suggest you consume yourself some redrock for that.

The place to get your redrock is at Arches National Park, known for its multitude of natural sandstone arches --- something like 2,000 of them. It's a beautiful place. Arches is also, as I understand it, the home of Suelo, a guy who advocates living without money. Google Suelo and see what I mean. How can you beat that? The Arches National Park is located just outside of Moab, Utah, a quirky place on its own, which general area is the fitting general setting of THE SCHOLAR OF MOAB. Visit or vacation there, preferably, in the spring time or the late fall.

That area's where protagonist, Hyrum Thayne, the scholar of Moab, lives with his devout, sometimes clueless, practicing Mormon wife, Sarah. In the surrounding vicinity resides the very capable --- Is she cagey or crazy or both? --- poet, Dora Tanner. Tanner's poetic verse has been apparently quite enticing, you might say, to Hyrum. Read the book and you'll find out how. You'll also find out what makes Hyrum so enticing, not necessarily in the way Dora has been enticed. Let me just say this: Hyrum was hilarious. Dora describes Hyrum as "affectionate, passionate, caring, independent, brave, lovely, cunning, honest, blind, confused, visionary, thoughtful, ardent, worried, gentle, god-fearing, genteel, bright, exuberant, shrewd, Mormon, handsome, puppyish, deceptive, thankful, fresh, naïve, pagan, scholarly." That pretty much sums him up pretty well. Dora says of herself that she is a Wiccan, has agnostic leanings, might be considered by Hyrum as a "Jack Mormon." She says they never talk about religion but "it seems to haunt" their "conversation beneath the surface of things in telling ways."

The Moab and the La Sal Mountains area are also where the conjoined Babcock twins, William and Edward --- moderated by Marcel --- cowboyed in their younger years. The narrative sketches out their history, including their education, their exploits and professions, and the difficulties of living with a brother slipping into dementia.

The comedian, George Carlin, as I recall, became discouraged and depressed from the unequal treatment given UFO believers compared to religious believers by the media. He observed that media moguls termed UFO believers "buffs" to relegate them to mere hobbyists and enthusiasts. He thought their disparaging characterization by the media, given a universe comprised of trillions and trillions of stars and multitudes of possible planets suitable for habitation, was untenable when compared to the deference given to believers in supreme beings. This novel made me wonder if its BYU-evolutionary-ecologist-professor author didn't read him some Carlin, too. Maybe gain some inspiration there? It's just a thought.

This book is a pastiche of fun, pain, and entertainment. There is plenty of seed on the ground to Peck up and digest. Most of all, I found it unique and compelling. I recommend you read it and see for yourself and let me know.

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