Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Dr. Jaimy Gordon
Dr. Peter Blickle
Dr. Jil Larson
This novel concerns a young Mormon who has fallen away from his religion and his family and juxtaposes his struggles with his faith, belief and heritage with those of a drifter deliberately distancing himself from a much darker past. The novel is also acutely interested in place and landscape as powerful originations of any contemporary sense of paradise and perdition we may hang onto.
The episodic setting of the novel, in conjunction with the narrator’s story, concurrently traces the National Basketball Association’s Utah Jazz’s 1996 play-off appearance. The novel uses this setting to examine the ways in which the basketball team’s search for an identity is in some ways reflective of the both the narrator’s and the state of Utah’s searches for their respective identities. It further examines how faith and belief, in both the profane and the sacred, are often tenuously linked with institutional and personal identity.
To accomplish this the novel employs footnotes, pertaining to the histories of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the state of Utah, and the Utah Jazz team, to better illuminate the cultural and religious struggles of the first person narrator. The footnotes ultimately help generate a dialogue between the free indirect speech of the fact-spouting footnotes, and the direct address of the narrator. And they often point to the on-going dialogue between The Book o f Mormon and The New Testament. But most significantly, it is through this dialogue that the novel is able to conserve the confessional tone of the narrator and yet still bridge that to the mystical ability of third Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. person to comment on the protagonist’s past, and maintain access to facts either inappropriate for the narrator’s voice and/or character.
The novel, in large part due to its use of traditional footnotes to reveal the often insular world of Utah history, ultimately embodies elements of the picaresque, epistolary, historical, and regional novel all at once.
DeFrain, Dairen, "Utah Jazz, A Novel" (2000). Dissertations. 1445.