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Today I finish reading a book on polygamy and my local paper carries a story from AP News, “Utah police investigate plural family for bigamy.”  There seems to be no end to this controversy as the article states, “an estimated 38,000 self-described fundamentalist Mormons continue to believe and/or practice polygamy, believing it brings exaltation in heaven.”  These fundamentalists seem to have perfected delayed gratification.

Polygamy is not my hobbyhorse, but I will admit to reviewing two books on the subject.  First was David Ebershoff, The 19th Wife, on November 16, 2008, “Who Is Afraid Of Wife Number Nineteen?”.  The second was Brady Udall, The Lonely Polygamist, on August 8, 2010, One Two Three Four and Five Wives.”

Udall praised Dorothy Allred Solomon, Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk: Growing Up In Polygamy as the best account by an author who had lived the life.  So I bought the book, but with wrong expectations.

Solomon writes from a refreshed, expanded memory and with inhibiting familial and emotional ties that make the book suspect for all but Mormons, an insider book for insider readers.  For the general reader the book will confirm prejudices and suspicions, and only lightly inform.

Since the Mormons started the problem and seem to provide continuing energy to keep it bright, perhaps they should lead the nation in resolving the problem.  They could declare excathedra that marriage is a private matter and a fundamental civil right.  No one should be made an outlaw because of whom they live with.  Religion would bless those who ask for the blessing, and leave in peace those who do not ask for the blessing.

Now that would be something for a big choir to sing about.  Charles Marlin

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If you understand the slightly altered punch line you are a Mormon or were one in a fairly recent life.  David Ebershoff’s The 19th Wife is a two-for-one priced novel.  One story is about Ann Eliza Young who became one of Brigham Young’s wives and later a crusader against polygamy in Utah.  The other story involves a husband murder among the Firsts, breakaway polygamist Mormons of today.  Each story provides shade and a place to rest for the other, not a bad thing when stories are set in the hot Utah desert.  Charles Marlin

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