Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL — Most people outside of Utah don’t really understand what it’s like to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Award-winning author and Bountiful native Max Zimmer wanted to change that. He’s back in Utah to promote his “If Where You’re Going Isn’t Home” trilogy, a deep look at a young man named Shake, growing up in Bountiful in the 1950s as he wrestles with his faith, his desires and the things that stand between them. He’ll be at the Bountiful Music Recital Hall on Oct. 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. and at King’s English Bookstore in Salt Lake on Oct. 25 from 7 to 9 p.m.
“There’s no context for understanding Mormon people out in the rest of the world,” said Zimmer. “There’s enough Jewish and Catholic literature out there that we can empathize. I wanted to put Mormonism on the map the same way.”
Zimmer, who grew up in Bountiful much like his main character Shake Tauffler, first made his literary mark with the short story “Utah Died for Your Sins.” It was nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Raymond Carver, an award Zimmer ended up winning. Despite this, the author finds he prefers working with longer fiction.
“Short stories, for me, are too small,” he said. “I love a big canvas where I can just go explore and get into all the nuances of big issues. It’s really hard for me to do that in a short story.”
His current series evolved from a book Zimmer wrote several years ago about an LDS couple who were breaking up. He ended up setting the novel aside because he didn’t feel that national audiences would understand it.
“I felt something was missing,” said Zimmer. “The dynamics are so different than it would be for a Catholic couple, or a couple in another religion, that I knew no one would understand unless I went back and gave some background.”
That background ended up becoming the trilogy, which starts with last year’s “Journey” and continues with “Of the World.” The third book in the series, “Instrument of the Lord,” is due out next year, though it still doesn’t quite get to the beginning of the original story Zimmer wanted to tell.
“That will probably be book four,” he said with a laugh.
In addition to different readings at both events, Zimmer’s brother Marv will also perform jazz standards to reflect Shake’s own love for the music. In the end, he wants everyone to be able to empathize with the young man who is more familiar than some people might recognize.
“I’ve had people come up to me and say ‘It was just like this when I was an altar boy,’” said Zimmer. “I achieved my goal. I made a Mormon story everyone can understand.”