Inhuman Swill : August 2015
            

William Shunn, photographed by Colin Poellot at SingleCut Beersmiths, Sunday, August 16, 2015
So I had dinner the other night with Paul Witcover, the brilliant speculative fiction writer whose books you should be reading—and who happens to be copy-editing The Accidental Terrorist for me. I'm happy to report that he reported he was well over halfway through the book.

In fact, last night Paul emailed me what he had so far so I could get started on my corrections. It turns out he's more like 80% of the way through.

What does that mean? It means we're very close, kids. We're very close to having an absolutely finished book. It means we're probably about a week away from when I can place my order for the first batch of hardcovers, and that means I will absolutely be getting signed books out to my gracious early supporters before the end of September. I couldn't be more delighted.

In other book news, what you see above is my more-or-less-official author photo for the book jacket. It was taken by my friend Colin Poellot, quite an accomplished photographer. We have a couple of his prints hanging on our walls, and we thought he'd be the perfect choice for a jacket photo.

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The articles are beginning to pile up in my queue again, so it's time to clear them out and fill you in on some of the fascinating things happening in the world of Mormonism...


What do Utah Mormons have in common with the Orthodox Jews of Brooklyn? According to this fascinating Time article by Jon Birger, both religious communities are in matchmaking turmoil thanks to an excess of single women.

The wide-ranging piece is excerpted from Birger's new book Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game, and it explains how the gender imbalance has arisen in both populations, and what unexpected consequences have followed.

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I've been making Stamps.com work overtime as I mail out a ton of advance reading copies of The Accidental Terrorist, and it's beginning to pay off. My little book—okay, okay, it's not so little—is attracting some crucial early bits of critical attention.

Most gratifying, the first actual review to be posted appears at the web site of the Association for Mormon Letters. The AML is a pretty important organization out west for promoting LDS-related titles, and with a book like mine I was rather nervous about what their reaction would be. But reviewer Richard Packham turned out to be a most sympathetic reader. You can read his review in full here.

I have a couple of advance quotes in hand as well, so the blurbs that will appear on the cover are beginning to take shape. They will likely consist of the three quotes below, though I'll have to do more compressing so the cover isn't overwhelmed by text:

“This just may be my favorite true-life amazing-but-true tale—never has threatening an aircraft been funnier or more thought-provoking.”
—Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and Homeland
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Mormon's Secret Men's Magical Mesh Top
Not many people outside of Utah may be aware of it, but a controversy is brewing—and it has to do with Mormon underwear.

Specifically, it has to do with the portrayal of Mormon underwear on network television. As reported by Scott D. Pierce of The Salt Lake Tribune, next month's premiere episode of the new ABC series "Quantico" will feature a scene in which a young FBI recruit appears on screen in only his "garments," the sacred underclothes that many Mormons wear next to their skin.

Why is this controversial? It's not like garments are very racy, since they're meant to cover the body from the shoulders to the knees. (I, in fact, find them downright offputting, though I'm sure garments have their fetishists.) The problem is that most Mormons consider garments—which are stitched with arcane though unobtrusive symbols meant to remind the wearer of covenants made in the temple—to be sacred, and not intended for the prying eyes of outsiders.

This apparent secretiveness and sensitivity about garments has made them ripe for mockery. Most people, even if they know nothing else about the church, "know" that Mormons wear "magic underwear" to protects them from physical and spiritual harm. One of the most frequent questions I get, in fact, when someone finds out I'm a former Mormon, is: "Is it true about the magic underwear?"

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They call me the working man by William Shunn, on Flickr
I started a full-time job on Monday, my first in eight years, so I haven't had much spare time for the progress report I've been intending to make. But today is my birthday, dammit, so I'm taking the time to check in.

Everything is on schedule with The Accidental Terrorist. Revisions are all done. My copy editor is copy-editing. (Hi, Paul!) Uncorrected ARCs have started making their way out to reviewers (and potential blurbers), and in fact we've already heard back from one who says a "very positive review" will be forthcoming. Shh.

Pre-orders for the signed hardcover edition are now closed. To everyone who ordered one, I'm happy to report that it looks like I'll be able to get everyone's books out to them before the end of September. To everyone else, the regular editions have begun showing up for pre-order on Amazon. I'm hoping they'll soon be listed on Indiebound too.

I'm beginning to get a bit of travel squared away too. With the new job, I won't make it to as many places as I had hoped, but it looks like things are lining up for me to get to Salt Lake City in October for the Exmormon Foundation Conference and Chicago in November for Tuesday Funk.

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As I was working through the very final set of revisions on The Accidental Terrorist, I had to hunt down the original source of a well-known Joseph Smith quote on the topic of the accuracy of the Bible. I found what I was looking for in his History of the Church, but I also found a nearby paragraph that was equally interesting.

Joseph was obviously frustrated by the persecution he and his people had been suffering, and was perhaps even more frustrated by his inability to get protection or redress from the courts, or even much sympathy from President Martin Van Buren in a face-to-face 1840 meeting. In Volume VI, Chapter 3 of History of the Church, he wrote:

The Constitution should contain a provision that every officer of the Government who should neglect or refuse to extend the protection guaranteed in the Constitution should be subject to capital punishment; and then the president of the United States would not say, "Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you," a governor issue exterminating orders, or judges say, "The men ought to have the protection of law, but it won't please the mob; the men must die, anyhow, to satisfy the clamor of the rabble; they must be hung, or Missouri be damned to all eternity." Executive writs could be issued when they ought to be, and not be made instruments of cruelty to oppress the innocent, and persecute men whose religion is unpopular.

Think about that for a minute. The death penalty for failing to protect everyone's rights under the Constitution. Can you imagine the irony had Joseph's fancy become an actual amendment? Can you imagine the implications for the attorney generals and county clerks who refused to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples? Can you imagine the implications for district attorneys who failed to indict white officers for shooting black civilians?

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
cheaper than your
local Mormon
missionaries.

Order yours now!

William Shunn

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