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New Yorker’s Odd Swipe at the Church

The New Yorker published a story last week about the authorship and provenance of the 1971 book Go Ask Alice. The book is presented as the diary of a teenage girl, but a new book suggests that it was composed by Beatrice Sparks, a woman who claimed to only have found the diary and edited it.

The article is a fine read, asking interesting questions about the ethics of publication, and the difficulties of identifying authorship.

But near the end of the article they include this line, “As a few ex-Mormons have pointed out, Sparks was not the first Mormon to publish a text ostensibly based on an original source that the rest of the world did not get to see.”

The line takes a not-quite veiled swipe at the founding of the religion that Sparks was a member of.

I can’t help but wonder if Sparks was a Catholic, would the author have been as comfortable opining, “Sparks is not the first Catholic to put out a book where the original sources aren’t available.”

This kind of winking attack feels more fitting on the ex-Mormon Reddit than in a major publication like the New Yorker.

About the author

C.D. Cunningham

C.D. Cunningham is the managing editor of Public Square magazine. After graduating from BYU-Idaho, he studied religion at Harvard University Extension. He serves on the board of the Latter-day Saint Publishing and Media Association.
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