Townsend, Johnny. “Mormon Fairy Tales”, Booklocker.com Inc., 2011.
Learning to Cope
It is always a pleasure to read Johnny Townsend. He mainly writes about the seedy side of sex and that is what he does in this new short story collection. Townsend was once a member of the Church of Latter Saints.
Townsend writes about gay Mormons and what they have to do in order to live a good life and since he, himself, is an ex-Mormon, he knows what he writes about. There are twenty-two stories in this collection and with that, there is something for everyone. It is not only that Townsend knows Mormon life; he also knows how to tell a story. Is prose is sublime and what had once been his own frustration of being a gay Mormon is felt in the stories.
It is interesting that we now have gay Mormons finally telling their stories and in fact it is just interesting to learn more about the tenets of the religion and the problems that many feel. What I found to be the unifying theme of the stories is this frustration along with the disappointment that comes from being not accepted. In each story, you almost hear the small voice crying out for help and understanding.
It seems to me that gay people are now, finally, expressing how they feel about religion and many are looking for some sense of belonging to and comfort from some kind of spirituality. Many do not know how to conquer this. Townsend managed to do so but only after opened the world of Mormonism to others so that they can read about it. Even more interesting is that Townsend is a voice of the Mormon community yet he is no longer a member of it. He is a terrific writer and his themes are diverse—from compulsive/obsessive disorders to polygamy and sexually transmitted diseases, Townsend gives us a lot to think about and he does so with style.