Monday, February 14, 2011

Brigham Young, redux

I just heard back from yet another reviewer for my manuscript. It looks like we're getting closer. He enjoyed reading it, said he learned new things, etc. On the "need to fix" column, he said the first couple of chapters needed some organizational focus and editing. I have a chapter about Brigham Young as an example of non-typical pioneer diets: things exotic and unusual and indulgent. The reviewer didn't like this chapter.

In this chapter I cited original diaries that showed how Brigham Young got special treatment anywhere he went. On various trips through the settlements he was wined and dined. His personal gardener (he had a personal gardener!!!) raised strawberries for him under glass frames. His children made ice cream recreationally in the summer (before electricity and refrigeration). His daughter wrote about him eating squab for breafast (butchered by his overseer, caught fresh that morning, then prepared by kitchen help). Lots of doughnuts. Codfish gravy made from salt cod shipped from Massachusets. He died after two days of feasting on watermelon.

So after recounting all this, the reviewer thought that I had portrayed Brigham Young as a self-indulgent glutton. This might turn some readers off. I suppose my goal was to show a human side of Brigham rather than as a semi-divine being. The myth tends to overshadow many realities. In reality, the man was rather portly, and his diet contributed to this.

So... would this turn you off, as a reader? How do you imagine Brigham Young?


Sherm said...

I always liked the fact that he often had oysters for breakfast once the railroads were in place. Apparently, barrels of oysters were shipped all over the US because plenty made them cheap. Brigham looked and ate like a successful and powerful man of his times. Changes in sensibilities 134 years later don't change that.

Lindsey Johnson said...

I dunno. I think it's very interesting. I didn't know some of those things about BY. As someone who likes food and history, I say leave it in.

TeacherGenne said...

This interests me tremendously. I talked about it with my seminary students, and now they keep asking me what the other prophets ate for breakfast!

Julene said...

I find this info hilarious and I would definitely read a book with fun facts like those! Who knew? :)