Mormon Underwear
by Johnny Townsend

"Was it okay to kill souls as well as bodies, as long as you did it in the name of God?"

Only a skilled writer can bring humor to the agony of being gay in a culture where homosexuality is viewed as "morally wrong" and gays are sent to "reparative therapy." Townsend, a gay man excommunicated from The Church of Latter-day Saints, expertly examines the deep conflict between the love of Mormonism and the need to live gay in thirteen stories that blend the serious and the absurd.

Sparse dialog strips characters to their underwear, exposing the secrets people hide and the consequences of disclosure. The narrative organically inserts details of day-to-day Mormon life. We learn about stakes, callings, missions, and priesthoods; the sins of card playing and R-rated movies; and the kinky appeal of knee-to-shoulder, one-piece Mormon underwear. The stories place you in the Mormon club's patriarchal hierarchy as the main characters strive to resolve the dilemma of being good, ambitious Mormons and gay men.

In "Splitting with Elder Tanner," Jason learns that erotic longing mixed with hero worship is a dangerous combination. "Verboten" evokes the humor of Bill Bryson as non-hiker Jeremy agonizes his way through a death march with his straight older brother. "Dirty Cock Sucker" presents a unique tale of father/son bonding. "Sex Organs" takes twisted rationalization to new heights when an aging gay bargains with God to enter the Celestial Kingdom. Through the catalysts of Mormonism, homosexuality, and an MFA in fiction writing from Louisiana State University, Townsend creates a golden grouping of stories that are gritty, bawdy, sad, and memorable.

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