Lives of the Saints

Johnny Townsend writes short stories about the inner lives of Mormons and ex-Mormons with a great deal of compassion. He doesn’t belittle them, but instead reveals what makes them tick, and as an insider, Townsend isn’t writing satire, but deeply emotional and revealing portraits of people who are, with a few exceptions, quite lovable. They’ve made choices based on what they believe is the word of God, and when those choices don’t work out well, they naturally become confused. It is the humanity of these struggles that Townsend portrays so well. For instance, in “The Bishop’s Confession,” we discover that even small sins have the power to disrupt—the bishop can’t very well instruct people to stop masturbating when he can’t stay away from the coffee, can he? And does God really care about those things so much? Large theological questions and small lives make Townsend’s characters fully human.