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Image Hosted by Tonight on TDS, Joanna Brooks,,  The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith; and on TCR,  Woody Harrelson, Bullet for Adolf
sausage grinder of snark

I was all set to get all excited about TDS having a blogger on, when I saw that she's got a book out. True, it's an update-and-rerelease of a self-published ebook, but still. Also, Joanna Brooks has all sorts of academic-and-writing credits and seems to be a go-to source for (all? Many?) things Mormon (or at least all things Mormon Feminist, I guess). Plus, Politico has her as one of their 'top 50 politicos to watch' (as of 7/28/11), right up there as @askmormongirl with @KagroX and @fredthompson as a 'top tweeter'.

Anyway, the site is, and the book is The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith. Here's the description:

From her days of feeling like “a root beer among the Cokes”—Coca-Cola being a forbidden fruit for Mormon girls like her—Joanna Brooks always understood that being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints set her apart from others. But, in her eyes, that made her special; the devout LDS home she grew up in was filled with love, spirituality, and an emphasis on service. With Marie Osmond as her celebrity role model and plenty of Sunday School teachers to fill in the rest of the details, Joanna felt warmly embraced by the community that was such an integral part of her family. But as she grew older, Joanna began to wrestle with some tenets of her religion, including the Church’s stance on women’s rights and homosexuality. In 1993, when the Church excommunicated a group of feminists for speaking out about an LDS controversy, Joanna found herself searching for a way to live by the leadings of her heart and the faith she loved.

The Book of Mormon Girl is a story about leaving behind the innocence of childhood belief and embracing the complications and heartbreaks that come to every adult life of faith. Joanna’s journey through her faith explores a side of the religion that is rarely put on display: its humanity, its tenderness, its humor, its internal struggles. In Joanna’s hands, the everyday experience of being a Mormon—without polygamy, without fundamentalism—unfolds in fascinating detail. With its revelations about a faith so often misunderstood and characterized by secrecy, The Book of Mormon Girl is a welcome advocate and necessary guide.

Reviews in the usual places  (and an assortment of easily googleable online/Utah-locale papers , as well as a mention in next weeks New Yorker). Here's a bit from Kirkus:
A scholar of religion and culture struggles to integrate her strong religious beliefs with a deepening awareness of social injustice.

Brooks (American Lazarus: Religion and the Rise of African-American and Native American Literatures, 2003, etc.) evokes the close-knit joys and apocalyptic fears of growing up within the Mormon Church during the 1970s and ’80s..While the author also emphasizes the positive aspects of Mormonism, especially the industrious goodwill fostered by a long line of pioneer ancestors, she excels at portraying the complexities of doubt in the midst of faith...Feeling empty and patronized, she experienced disillusionment with the traditional Mormon view of sexuality but found refuge in the teachings of feminist professors at Brigham Young University. In the early ’90s, however, the church began a crackdown on dissidents, and several of these professors resigned; Brooks returned her BYU diploma in protest. She describes the decade after graduation as a time of exile when she felt estranged from her faith yet also worked toward a doctorate degree, married a Jewish man, and gave birth to two daughters. Eventually making her way back to the church on her own terms, she declares herself “an unorthodox Mormon woman with a fierce and hungry faith.”

This well-crafted examination of spiritual longing shows how one woman has carved out a niche inside the religion she loves despite its contradictions.

I suspect we should be very glad that Woody Harrelson is on with Stephen rather than Jon. He's promoting his off-broadway play Bullet for Adolf, which just premiered -- the reviews (as opposed to promo pieces) have all posted with the past 24 hours. Some snippets:
Harrelson co-wrote “Bullet for Adolf” with Frankie Hyman based on the summer construction job in Texas where they first met 30 years ago, and the oddball cast of characters with whom they worked and socialized.  The two new friends reportedly lost touch not long afterward: Harrelson was cast in “Cheers” and became a star; Hyman has told reporters he moved back to New York and fell  “deep into addiction.”

Here is where the story turns compelling:  Harrelson reportedly hired a private detective to find his old friend, and then mentioned his search during an appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” which is how they got back in touch.

What an extraordinary story this is.  It may say something about the power of celebrity; it surely says much about the strength of youthful bonding; it is also an intriguing glimpse into Harrelson’s sense of loyalty – his whole character, really.

It might make a terrific play. “Bullet for Adolf” is not that play..

(OK, that one continues:)
It might make a terrific play. “Bullet for Adolf” is not that play, but the friendship of the two novice playwrights — one black, one white; one famous; one once lost —  may be a main reason why the play they did write cannot be completely dismissed.  “Bullet for Adolf”  has the feel of a “Cheers”-like situation comedy created as a Web series – raunchier, less funny, more crude, tasteless, meandering with a literally Jerry-built plot, but with a camaraderie that the audience can enjoy sharing. Especially if they too are high...

...I know there are laugh lines in “Bullet for Adolf,” but I can’t remember a single one. What I do remember is the physical comedy, the tussling, which are well-conceived and well-executed by a first-rate cast. One need not share Woody Harrelson’s sense of humor as a playwright to appreciate his talent as an actor – and his talent for recognizing acting talent and creating ways to let it shine on stage.   I hope he is working on another play.

‘Bullet for Adolf” has all the markings of a cult show — it could be theater’s answer to a midnight movie.

Directed and co-written by Woody Harrelson, this new off-Broadway play is often inept and always profane, with cartoonish characters and an eye-rollingly ridiculous story.

It’s also oddly compelling...

Plenty of stars have gotten in trouble for masturbating in theaters. Woody Harrelson isn’t the first, or even the funniest. That said, Bullet for Adolf, his demented, ecstatically incompetent Texas picaresque — a shambolic pseudo-satire fueled by eighties hits, sitcom one-liner one-upmanship, a YouTube binge of Reagan-era TV clips, and freewheeling bad taste — is strangely transfixing. Written with Frankie Hyman and directed slaphappily by Harrelson himself, Adolf aspires sometimes to bebop absurdism, sometimes to Hiassen-esque archness, but always, always settles for simple, leering puerility. It’s a long, wet, occasionally musical fart unsphinctered in a crowded theater — a form of celebrity speech that will always be protected in this country. (Though one hopes that will be challenged, if only so we can watch Harrelson defend it in court.)..

...Adolf is watchable the way a demolition is watchable, perhaps even more so because this demolition is so uncontrolled, so unaccomplished. The stories don’t accordion in on each other the way they’re supposed to but spill out madly in all directions, taking down whole city blocks on all sides. Perhaps the authors, deep in the primordial bong-haze of creation, fell asleep reading Sam Shepard and woke up watching ALF, tried to split the difference, and then wisely gave up and wrote Bullet for Adolf. That’s as good an explanation as any, right? Anyway, it’s what popped into my head just now and so — in the spirit of the show — I’m gonna write it down.

There’s a lot of pot smoking going on among the characters — another aspect reflecting one of Harrelson’s well-known interests -- but since the marijuana isn’t real the audience is unfortunately prevented from experiencing the sort of contact high that might have resulted in at least a few giggles.

Hollywood Reporter

Up this week:

Mo 8/6: Tim Gunn
Tu 8/7: Saima Wahab
We 8/8: Chris Rock
Th 8/9: Joanna Brooks

Mo 8/13: Robert Pattinson
Tu 8/14: Neil Barofsky
We 8/15: Brian Williams
Th 8/16: Rob Corddry


Mo 8/6: Pete Seeger
Tu 8/7: Mark Shriver
We 8/8: Liza Mundy
Th 8/9: Woody Harrelson

Mo 8/13: fun.
Tu 8/14: Grizzly Bear
We 8/15: Santigold
Th 8/16: The Flaming Lips

(listings and occasional links  via The Late Night TV Page, some links & more guest info available at,, and a judiciously-used

(Note: Whenever reading reviews from the NYTimes (particularly Janet Maslin, remember this.)

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