I've been reading enough about the new Meyers vampire book, Breaking Dawn, which is arguably the most controversial book in the nation right now, that I find myself wondering how Mormon church-owned Deseret Book and its sister chain Seagull can possibly justify carrying this novel and yet ban other LDS-connected novels that are less troubling.
Back in 2002, Deseret banned LDS author Richard Paul Evans's novel The Last Promise (published by national publisher Dutton) because it contains a brief passage implying that a married woman spent a night on a riverbank with a man who wasn't her husband. Deseret claimed that this paragraph implied adultery, which Evans denied. The resulting media kerfuffle grew so large that Deseret launched their "What Matters to You Matters to Us" campaign to trumpet their new, more careful book-stocking policies.
The puritanism ran so rampant at that time that Deseret-clone Covenant asked Anita Stansfield to remove a line from one of her Mormon romances about a new husband on his honeymoon laughing and kicking the door closed. Yet now we have an LDS author writing about honeymoon sex so wild that apparently the pillows get shredded and the furniture broken and the wife's body bruised, and both Deseret and Seagull have been openly selling it.
How does Deseret/Seagull justify selling a nationally published book (if not series) aimed primarily at younger readers—in contrast to Evans's adult-oriented novel—when this book/series apparently contains off-gospel messages regarding technically chaste sexuality couched in unhealthy relationship attitudes that may take years of Young Women lessons to undo, not to mention other bizarre, disturbing stuff in the latest novel. I've always rather disliked Deseret/Covenant's puritanical influence on Mormon culture in the area of fiction, but now what's up? Talk about a pendulum swing...
Is this just all about money, or what? If I thought stocking Meyers's novel signaled a new openness to alternative forms of LDS fiction (whether created by or about LDS), I'd be happy. But personally I wonder if it possibly shows a double standard of some kind. I'd like to see Deseret defend its decision to sell Meyers's books but not any number of other LDS-written or LDS-published novels that contain some challenging material.