Flying Over Babel
by Johnny Townsend

"Being good always seemed to be tainted with some degree of sin."

With a writing repertoire that includes titles like Zombies for Jesus, The Circumcision of God, and Mormon Underwear, Johnny Townsend cleverly substantiates the market of unorthodox Mormon literature. Through his latest effort, Flying Over Babel, the author brings together a collection of eighteen stories filled with individuals that struggle with their own lifestyles, sexuality, and moral turpitude in application to the Mormon community. Amidst abusive pasts, estranged families, and turbulent relationships, these characters often wear their heart on their sleeve while searching for their place in the world. Two of Townsend's characters resurface within four separate stories, serving to enhance the overall fluidity of this work.

The stories are contemporary with details referencing a modern day Seinfeld culture. While the writing is fictional, Townsend makes his characters relatable to readers via common flaws, hopes, and dreams. One adaptation seems taken straight from recent headlines. When a young kidnap victim held hostage for eighteen years is reunited with her family, her future looks grim. Writing a book or going on a reality dance show seem viable options in these troubling times.

The rootedness of Townsend's writing is his irreverent wit, wherein the action and dialogue often reveal the underlying hypocrisy of religious doctrines, not strictly a Mormon flaw. There often seems a smirk behind the writer's words. While sex is a predominant element throughout this book, and may be too shocking for some, the author's point is clear in suggesting some of the inherent problems with religion when one exasperated character questions "Why are Mormons so afraid of sexuality?" Overall, Townsend has crafted an insightful, witty portrait of the human experience, challenged within a community of faith where it appears "rules often get in the way."

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