I don’t need to tell you all how much I enjoy Jon Krakauer’s work. It’s just not necessary. But I will mention that I figured that I would never sit down and read Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven. The story never interested me: who really wants to read about a violent murder that never should have happened?
And then my life changed a bit and I moved to a place where this book was somewhat relevant. So I read it. And the part that surprises me the most is that I kind of enjoyed the experience. Now, I feel a heck of a lot more educated about the LDS religion (even though I know that Krakauer’s account of the religion is biased). Reading this book in the Canadian Bible Belt felt like I was reading my community; or to be more precise, the dark underbelly of my current community. Nobody around here talks about polygamy or about religious fanaticism or murders sanctioned by God.
It could very well have been the subject matter, but Under the Banner of Heaven did not quite compare to Krakauer’s other books for me. I will admit to skimming, especially when the book got deep into the religious history of the Mormons post-Joseph Smith. When I was reading about the history, I didn’t see the connection to present-day story of the Laffery brothers. The true crime part of the book was engaging, but the history part of the book saw me wavering a bitsy-bit.
Books with two main plots usually do well with me. I like the intricacies of moving between plots and then understanding how deeply they are entwined together. But something slips from the reading experience when one of the plots is way more interesting than the other or even when one plot interests the reader to a much stronger degree than the other. Problematic.
Because when one plot fails (as it did for me), then the book loses something. I can’t say I didn’t like Under the Banner of Heaven. But I can’t say that I read every single page either.
I don’t think I ever realized how closely related reading is to the place where you are reading; and I’m making assumptions that say the place where you do your writing is probably more strongly related to your writing than I had previously thought. Something to consider considering.
A short post, but I don’t have much more to say about this one.