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FICTION

BREEDING LEAH AND OTHER STORIES by John Bennison (Signature Books: $19.95; 168 pp.). A farm sow eats her own young. A young man’s religious mania turns to genuine lunacy. A scientist rejects the poison he has been creating and retreats from the world, waiting for his sins to catch up with him. A dutiful family man engages in adultery. Like brightly painted jars with unpleasant contents ready to spill out, these stories contain vivid desert scenery with a secreted toxic edge and upstanding spiritual people with festering insides. Set largely in a Mormon world, with its rules and structures that trap as much as they support, “Breeding Leah” probes the psyches of its inhabitants, wryly exposing their pain. Author John Bennison knows both his Utah territory and the customs of the Mormon people, and he bares their respective flaws with neither condemnation nor apology. His skill is such that, in one story, a bishop, confronted with a favorite student’s homosexuality, is able to comfort and aid without compromising his faith’s strict doctrine.


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