In her preface to Dispensation, Angela Hallstrom writes that “immersing oneself in a completely foreign place or time is one of the fundamental pleasures of reading good literature,” which is certainly the lesson I learned from reading Hemingway, Steinbeck, and countless other writers in my teenage years. Even today, I make a habit of reading books by authors of various backgrounds so that my scope does not become too narrow, my worldview too restricted. But, like Hallstrom, I agree that “recognizing oneself in a work of fiction is an exhilarating experience, too.” The good news is that I no longer need to ask where the Mormons are. Latter-day Saint readers from all walks of life have a book that showcases the diversity and complexity of their experience.
Perhaps because of this, Dispensation: Latter-day Fiction also has the potential to act as an intermediary text, a window through which readers of other faiths can look and better understand their Mormon neighbors. It’s the kind of book that belongs on every Mormon bookshelf, although its striking portrayal of certain aspects of Mormon life may be off-putting for some readers. That said, those who are looking for challenging fiction that offers an unblinking view of Mormonism will not be disappointed by it. As its title suggests, it’s a collection of Mormon stories that seeks to herald in a new dispensation of Mormon literature.