Wasatch: Mormon Stories and a Novella
by Douglas Thayer
Zarahemla Books, 2012. 235 pgs. Fiction
Despite the implications of the subtitle, Thayer's stories are more faith-challenging than -promoting, but they are beautifully wrought and profoundly thought-provoking in any case. Many of these stories are about men who reject the safety of certitude for the call of the wild, who crave solitude and self-reliance over the comforts of home and family but whose choices in the end yield either disaster or a continuing life of Thoreau's "quiet desperation." First in the collection is "The Red-Tailed Hawk," a story so atmospheric and precisely rendered that one can feel the bitter cold. Other stories are by turns brutal and funny--as when Brother Melrose comes briefly back from the dead to visit his grandson and discomfit the rest of the family. "The Locker Room" is the linchpin of the story collection, a tragedy of not knowing the difference between doing good and doing right. "Dolf," the novella that ends the book, sums Thayer's recurring themes as a young man races towards destruction in a John Colter-like run away from the Blackfeet and from Providence. Wasatch is an impressive, memorable collection which lingers in the mind long after the last page is turned.