Breeding Leah and Other Stories

John Bennion, Author Signature Books $14.95 (157p) ISBN 978-0-941214-94-0
The prose in Bennon's first collection reflects his stories' Utah desert setting--somewhat arid and a little oppressive. The title piece, about a farmer whose brood sow turns on her piglets, is the least successful of the seven tales here; those about chemist Howard Rockwood, his family and his friends are grounded in Mormon tradition and more cohesive. ``Dust'' details Rockwood's crisis of conscience, wrought when his work on a government project results in a deadly gas. In his guilt he leaves his wife and children and goes to live in a cabin in the desert. A husband's abandoning his family, a frequent theme, is also explored in ``A Court of Love'' (which actually refers to an excommunication court), featuring Rockwood as a young man returned from a two-year mission in France to discover that his girlfriend has married someone else, his best friend is still immature and his parents are breaking up. ``Jenny, Captured by the Mormons'' takes an abandoned wife's point of view and is the best of the bunch. It follows Jenny's daily struggles to survive in Salt Lake City after her husband has embraced fundamentalism and left her and their children penniless. Without drawing moral conclusions, Bennion reveals the pain of the outsider in an extremely closed society. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
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