The Rogue Shop by Michael Knudsen is what one might consider a classic LDS fiction novel. A young man comes to Utah with every intention of not joining the Church, he's befriended by two fresh-faced Mormon girls who make him feel at home, he falls for one of them, and ends up joining the Church anyway. Doesn't sound too original, does it? In fact, we've all heard this story a million times.
Actually, we haven't.
The premise is one that has perhaps been overdone in LDS fiction, but the way it's told in The Rogue Shop is completely new and different. The events come about naturally, not in a cliche or "coincidental" way. Michael Knudsen has a storytelling voice unlike any other I've read. It's rich and evocative. It's literary without being snooty. His characters come to life and leap off the page. I found this to be one of the best pieces of LDS fiction I've ever read ... and you all know how picky I am.
I read this book in one sitting, then got up, went to my computer, and nominated it for a Whitney Award. I don't nominate a lot of books, so that's saying a lot right there. This kind of writing, this kind of storytelling, is what we should be aiming for in the LDS market. If we were all to pay attention to the intricacies of writing, as Knudsen has done, and if every reader were to insist on this kind of quality in their reading material, we would find ourselves right up there with those Shakespeares and Miltons we're trying to emulate.
This book was provided to me at no charge by the author. However, my gushing and high praise were completely voluntary.