cover image The Accidental Terrorist: Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary

The Accidental Terrorist: Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary

William Shunn. Sinister Regard, $27.95 (448p) ISBN 978-1941928554

Software developer and writer Shunn fumbles this account of his mishaps as a youthful Mormon missionary, overloading the narrative with digressions. As a young adult, Shunn succumbed to pressure from his overbearing father to serve as a Mormon missionary. After an early graduation from high school and a clandestine, rushed engagement, Shunn finds himself in Canada knocking on doors, looking for converts, lying about the numbers he must report, and trying to avoid forbidden pleasures as he pursues his real ambition of becoming a prolific science fiction writer. The "terrorism" alluded to in the title refers to the childish (but criminal) mistake Shunn makes of lying about a bomb threat on a plane to keep a fellow missionary from fleeing their ministry assignment. Apart from this early tense scene, the book is mostly bogged down by excessive detail, and never gains a clear focus in terms of the overarching storyline or ethical vision. Interspersed snapshots of Mormonism's history only add to the confusion and density of this overlong memoir. (Nov.)