Miah Arnold discusses Sweet Land of Bigamy
YouTube interview with the publisher, Ben LeRoy.
Miah Arnold: Sweet Land of Bigamy
An interview with Catherine Lu
Houston NPR’s The Front Row
July 18, 2012
Bigamy as Allegory
An article by Lisa Carricaburu
The Salt Lake Tribune
July 20, 2012
Review: Sweet Land of Bigamy
A review by Maggie Galehouse
The Houston Chronicle
July 22, 2012
Book Review: Sweet Land of Bigamy
a review by postmormongirl
July 22, 2012
Walter Platz Morning Show, KLO, Salt Lake City
an interview with Walter Platz
August 9, 2012
Tom Anderson Show, KOAN FM, Alaska
interview with Tom Anderson (hour long)
August 13, 2012
Unwrapped Radio Show, WRFG AM
interview with Chris Askew
Aaron in the Afternoon, KLFD FM, Minnesota
interview with Aaron Imholte
August 22, 2012
Article and Review: Sweet Land of Bigamy
by Debbie Tracy
Miah Arnold discusses Sweet Land of Bigamy on The Write Question with Cherie Newman, for Montana Public Radio
Audio interview with Cherie Newman.
September 7, 2012
My hometown paper wrote one of my very favorite pieces about Sweet Land of Bigamy.
A debut novel features a setting that will be familiar to residents of the Uintah Basin. It’s not by accident. “Sweet Land of Bigamy” was written by Miah Arnold, who grew up in Myton and is the daughter of the current mayor of that town, Kathleen Cooper. Although the book primarily takes place in the fictional tiny town of “Smoot’s Pass,” there are many scenes and places that will ring a familiar bell for locals. …One theme is the propensity of Americans to want to have things both ways. “Helen has two very different husbands and she loves them and she wants them both,” Arnold said. The character’s original husband Larry is a Mormon and a humanist and a religious man, yet he find work in the war. There’s the Mormon woman who wants to be a feminist and she wants to be a Mormon; Arnold said the woman is not going to leave the church so she is going to have to find a way to marry those two desires. Motes’ mother is an alcoholic, who decides to quit drinking – but only in the daytime. As she hears from various readers, Arnold said everyone reads the novel according to the situation they are facing in their own lives. One reader said he saw the tale in the book as a national allegory, noting that Motes loves this person in the left and the right, and can they co-exist? Another, a friend who is in a long-distance relationship, said he viewed the novel as a warning that if you don’t make choices together as a couple there is a danger in both going off on a different road. “That is the cool thing about putting a novel out in the world, to see how different people take it,” she said. “I love that, it’s not just my book, it’s everybody’s book.” A number of reviews on Amazon.com’s website for “Sweet Land of Bigamy” suggest that it would be an ideal book club selection, leading to lots of interesting dialogue. “If people want to talk about it in a book club, I would come and talk to the book club,” Arnold said.
Cherie Newman, at Montana Public Radio’s the Write Question, interviewed me in August. It aired yesterday. I was in the middle of my road trip when we spoke, and so I had forgotten much of what I said, remembering primarily how thorough and thoughtful she was as an interviewer. Here’s the proof!
I was dazzled by those radio microphones. The interview is here!
If you have survived the great misfortune of missing one of my readings, but just barely, the people at Inprint, Houston, have done you a favor. Inprint is Houston’s top-of-the-notch literary nonprofit that hosts workshops, brings in the big-fish-writers for their Margaret Root Brown Reading Series, and funds little guppy writers like me.
They were kind enough in this instance to invite me to read in their nascent online reading series. If you are sick of me by this point in your perusal of my website, check out the other readings in the series by people far more accomplished than myself, including Robert Boswell, Antonya Nelson, Mat Johnson, Chitra Divakaruni, Martha Serpas, and Robert Cremins.
But if you really just want to see me, just push play below.
“Sweet Land of Bigamy” is not a linear novel. It skips around in time, sometimes by a decade and sometimes by a matter of days or hours. The unexpectedness of the opening scene — Helen hiking up the Black Elk Mountains with the Hindu pundit who’s to perform her (second) wedding ceremony — is a frightfully fresh scenario, the perfect doorway into a thick, thorny story.”
More by Maggie Galehouse: “Sweet Land of Bigamy”
REVIEWS SHORT FICTION:
“How She Rathered” (published in Nanofiction)
Review by New Pages
“Miah Arnold presents us with a bone rattling story about a woman who starts collecting teeth in “How She Rathered.” She steals these teeth from under countless pillows, filling a sack in less than one hour. Finally, “At home, when she emptied its contents into her tub, they nearly filled it. Without the salivic gleam of their usual context the teeth looked like kernels of bathtub.” She fills the bathtub and lays down in the teeth, submerging herself in them. Finally, she swishes the “loose teeth between her own teeth.” You have to read the story to discover the end, but I could not help but be haunted by the woman who swims in loose teeth as a way she discovered “to be something less upsetting than a woman.”
“Snap by Miah Arnold is a plainspoken, magical realist piece set in a domestic setting. Told in the first
person, the scene is set with the narrator sitting in the office of “the tailor,” which is reminiscent of a dentist’s office. She has made the appointment with the tailor because her soul has turned black, and the tailor’s profession is to go inside and clean it out. Two assistants turn into a purple, slimy essence and jump into the narrator’s body, then force her out and blow her skin up like a blimp, so that the tailor can fit inside comfortably to get his job done. Once out, the narrator slides into a temporary body for the remainder of the procedure. With only his legs sticking out of the narrator’s body, he questions her about decisions she has made, actions she has taken, and thoughts she has thought but not said – all of this he can see from inside. The story ends with the tailor finishing the cleaning and the narrator
jumping back into her own body, at which time the tailor instructs her to take a shower before she leaves and make a follow up appointment with the secretary on her way out.
I tend to be a fan of the strange and off-kilter, and Miah Arnold’s story is just that. Her voice is that of a
contemporary, female Poe. Her images are exquisite and extremely vivid: “…the tailor, hooking his fingers into my nostrils and pulling me to a fast ninety degree position.” And her descriptive details almost made me wet my pants. One of my favorite lines in the piece is, “The tailor reminds me of a demonic chicken.” Miah Arnold’s dark humor and tendency towards the oddball state of mind make her someone I definitely plan to look for in the future.
“Reading “Sweet Land of Bigamy” is like listening to Tom Waits. Miah Arnold’s book sings an American melody: the high and the low, the tough and the tender, the beautiful and the grotesque meet and marry. An arresting, inventive novel, so fresh, so full of images, of questions and answers.”
—Adam Zagajewski, Nobel Prize nominee and author of Unseen Hands: Poems
“The characters in Miah Arnold’s delightfully different first novel will grab you from the first and refuse to let go. Quirky, hilarious, sometimes dangerous, often shocking, always human, they make Sweet Land of Bigamy into a vibrant reading experience.”
—Chitra Divakaruni, author of One Amazing Thing
“Sweet Land of Bigamy is as weird as America, as absurd as our times, and as beautiful as our contradictions. Smart, funny, and utterly engaging. Miah Arnold makes a notable debut with a voice that seems to be just warming up.”
—Mat Johnson, author of Pym: A Novel
“If I could have conjured a wild, wry, delicious story of bigamy [with] the woman choosing one groom too many and a few other sweet sins, it would be Miah Arnold’s Sweet Land of Bigamy. Gasping with laughter and admiration, I wonder not if this book will be a hit, but … you’ll pardon me … just how big!”
—Jacquelyn Mitchard, author, The Deep End of the Ocean and Second Nature
“Sweet Land of Bigamy is truly a story for our time. The vision it provides does not flinch at contemporary hardships but, rather, embraces those and suggests how real people might accommodate, forgive, endure, and re-invent the weird wild world we’ve found ourselves in. And all this with a sly sense of humor and a very large heart.”
—Antonya Nelson, author of Bound
“Some years ago, we elected a mixed race man president, and yet the fiction of this country can barely imagine the complexities and subtle mysteries of life in-between. Miah Arnold takes us there with panache, smarts and, above all, great warmth for characters facing the sublime bewilderment of a post-post America. Along the way, she crafts a quirky lyricism that wanders across several points of view and vernaculars, often arriving at sudden, breathtaking turns of phrase in a language all her own. With Sweet Land of Bigamy, American fiction finally joins the world most of the world lives in.”
—Rubén Martínez, author of Desert America
“Sweet Land of Bigamy is funny and full-hearted and filled with the wonderfully flawed. Arnold writes with wit, grace, and an amused compassion that mark her as an exceptional talent, an author whose wisdom and sensitivity benefits us all. Helen Motes is unforgettable and in her romantic tribulations reminds us of how we can most profoundly injure those whom we most love. All the more reason to feel braced by the compassion that Arnold exhibits in this fine novel.”
—Alexander Parsons, author of Leaving Disneyland and In the Shadows of the Sun