Monday, June 25, 2007

Revenge and Redemption

Revenge & Redemption: A Novel of Love and Conflict in the Civil War

Brad E Hainsworth
This weeks guest was prolific LDS historical fictionist (and political commentator/aficianado) Brad Hainsworth, who has recently published his eagerly anticipated follow-up to the Heroes of Glorietta Pass, Revenge and Redemption. While we were thrilled to have Brad back on the show, we frankly were a little surprised he would return, what with everything Doug said in their interview from 2005. And we quote:
Doug: Now, this is co-authored--we have another author listed here--but Richard
Vetterli is no longer with us. Maybe you could tell us how all of this works.

Brad: ... early in the book's development, Richard passed away
...(you know Doug, when people die, they can't write books anymore.
Or host radio programs)

Doug: What a great thing.
And yet, in spite of that interchange, Brad returned to ELEV (which is a testament to the power of Doug Wright! WRIGHT ON, Doug).
Before getting into the book, a quick note on Brad's introduction. In a bold move that's sure to elicit an angry response from any Congressmen that gets their hands on this book (which is sure to include some of Washington D.C.'s premiere power brokers), Brad writes (or, Wrights) his introduction "from the Utah territory." Clearly unhappy with the nuisance that is the federal government's intervention in our fine state (you know, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other "socialized" evils), Brad fires the first shot in the volley (maybe not fatal, but stinging) that is sure to follow between the US government and the, ..., well, just Brad. Don't worry Brad, we've got your back! But on to the book.
It's rare to find an author not so versed in history (and politics), who is yet brave enough to stand up and write an entire series of historical fiction novels (and in a thrilling moment from the show, Brad revealed that he's got at least one more book in him, and possibly even two, as a part of this series). When asked by Doug about the difficulty in researching the history behind his books, Brad confidently declared that its not hard at all, since he doesn't do any research. And Brad, your book proves it! By putting Porter Rockwell in the thick of the Civil War, its as though you've said to your editors, "Accuracy be damned. These people just need to be entertained! And entertained we have been (both by your book, and Doug's interview with you). All this from an author who when listing the great battles of the Civil War, includes not just Gettysburg, Antietam, and Shiloh, but also the Mormon War of 1857, when President Buchanan sent federal troops to Utah to put down a non-existent rebellion among the Mormons.
Unlike other authors of LDS fiction (whom we shall call lazy?), Brad does not limit himself to just writing about Mormon characters. Instead, in an act of sheer genius, Brad writes about normal people (or at least as normal as you can be with a name like Wolf Striker) who just happen to cross paths with Mormons. Another brave move from a particularly daring author, but it pays off big time. While reading it, I almost forget that I'm reading a book published by our beloved Des Book (hereafter cited as DB).
During the interview, Doug asked Brad how he developed such complex and rich characters (with incredibly inventive names) in the book. And in a moment nearly approximating a testimony meeting, Brad confided to his listeners that "the characters just came to him." No doubt an individual as layered as Wolf Striker could not have simply been made up by Brad (especially that name, which rumor has it was originally slated to be Wolf Petter, but was changed by Brad after several visits from Wolf Striker himself). Based on Brad's detailed description of Mr. Striker, he is an ominous and imposing figure, and kudos to Brad for not shrinking from the task of confronting and writing about someone so dangerous that they don't just touch the wolves, they strike them! In this same vein, we can't help but wonder if the new details that Brad provides about Porter Rockwell's life might in fact have been dictated by Porter himself!?! Let's keep an open mind people - you know Doug does.
In conclusion, on a scale of 1 to 5, we rate the book a solid 5 (Wright on, Brad, Wright on!), and the show a 4.5 (not nearly enough stories from Doug's personal life - no references to celebrities he knows, and important people he is friends with). And now, for the question:
Did Doug read the book?
Superfan 1: No - a little too much history for Mr. Wright
Superfan 2: Absolutely - are you crazy, superfan 1? Doug was on during this show, and it was clear that this book was Doug-worthy in every way.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Supersonic Saints

Supersonic Saints

John Bytheway

"In the whites of his eyes, there's a supersonic vibe. You can tell by the vibe, he's a warrior who cries. He's supersonic. I think he's supersonic. Supersonic."


We have it on good authority that Jamiroquai actually wrote this song about John Bytheway (apparently he wanted to record it for Des Book [hereafter cited as DB], but that he was contractually obligated to his record company for three more albums - may we be so bold as to suggest possibly an album of showtunes covers?). And we believe it, since we have always considered John a supersonic stripling warrior.

To be honest, when we heard that John was going to be on ELEV, we were a little bit surprised. I mean, had not he already written about every possible experience that he has had. His volumnious writings had taken us from dating to marriage, on scout hikes, bike rides, and even through the forest that is the book of Isaiah. For all of us airheads out there, Mr. Bytheway had shown us the way to live our lives greatly (even providing EMT service for our ailing love lives - Hello, Dating 911!). And so we wondered, having seemingly written about everything he has done, what could be left for John to write about? Needless to say, we underestimated the man. In his new book, Supersonic Saints, John has discovered that he can not only make money by writing about his own experiences, but there is a vast, untouched vein of OTHER people's experiences, just waiting to be written about. And for this book, John picked one of the most thrilling experiences of other people, flying at supersonic speeds (well, maybe just flying. John did go to great lengths in the interview to point out that not all of the pilots included in the book actually flew at supersonic speeds. But they did all fly. We think).

John, who is pretending to be a religion professor at BYU (you know, those other guys get PhD's in koine Greek so they can be professors, but John got his PhD in hilarity from the school of life), has published numerous books for LDS audiences, but this Supersonic Saints is by far his best account of other people's experiences (way better than the wisdom quotes he pilfered from the mouths of babes and dudes!). Doug was thrilled to have John as his guest (again), especially as the interview turned to a discussion of the renovation of KSL Radio's studios. As Doug noted, and John heartily agreed, the new cafeteria in the Broadcast House would definitely help draw in a younger, and hipper, crowd for Doug to schmooze with his wonderfully creative stories about the history of Utah radio (we're making our reservations right now!). Although Doug wanted to continue the cafeteria discussion, John made a seamless transition back to his book, leaving listeners not at all confused about what this show was about (maybe his name should be John Tact-theway), and insuring that no more time be taken away from the potential goldmine in sales the book was sure to generate after appearing on ELEV (maybe his name should be John Greed-theway, or better yet, John Exploits other people's experiences to make money for himself-theway).

The book contains a series of stories about airplanes, which as Doug pointed out, means that only emasculated eunuchs won't like this book since every man he knows likes airplanes. It is published just in time for Father's Day, so make sure to get if for your dad (unless he's a eunuch). The banter between Doug and John was light and easy going, convincing Superfan that John truly is Doug's wingman! Listening to the program felt almost like watching Top Gun, except without the long kiss (unless you consider Doug's incessant pandering about the book the equivalent of a juicy wet one planted right on the hindquarters of Mr. Bytheway!).

The highlight of the show was Doug's still small testimony about watching the Blue Angels. For many people, attending and participating in religious services, providing food for the hungry and clothing for the naked, or prayer and meditation, are all avenues to having spiritual experiences. But for Doug, watching airplanes fly in formation and do ridiculous dives and barrel rolls qualifes as "an almost spiritual experience" (Having only seen the Blue Angels on a late night cable commercial, Superfan is skeptical, but not willing to publicly tell Doug that he is not Wright. Superfan is withholding judgement until he can see the Angels himself).

On a scale of 1 to 5, we rate the book a 5 (we're scared anything less would make us eunuchs), and the interview a 5 (0nly because of the frequency of Doug's personal stories/insights/etc.). And now for the question:

Did Doug read the book?

Superfan 1: No. I'm not sure if he's a eunuch or not.

Superfan 2: By the way Doug avoided any specifics from the book, I have to agree. I don't he think he read it. (look for the pun in my answer, people)