2011 - Paperback
Hard Roads Home: How I Found a Family in Mormonia tells two inter-woven stories, one concerning the speaker’s life as husband to Sheila Mulligan and step-father to her three multi-ethnic adopted daughters, a family that came together in Salt Lake City, Utah. The other narrative concerns the speaker’s obsession with Mormon history, in particular with the Mountains Meadows Massacre and the life of the man who became the Church’s scapegoat for the massacre. The shadow lying beneath the two narratives is a felt connection between the speaker and John Doyle Lee, the scapegoat. The darkness of the Mormon story is leavened by the humor and all-encompassing love of the family story.
A superb prose stylist, Peter Stitt melds brutal historical looniness with the domestic rigors of fatherhood to recreate tales of love and betrayal. Stepfather to three adopted daughters, Stitt meditates on “family life in the context of Mormonism,” examining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with fervid skepticism. Cultural study and unflinching memoir, Hard Roads Home bristles with sly mordancy and wrenching tenderness born of the peculiar conjunctions of faith and fact.
The genius of Peter Stitt is the clarity and eloquence he brings to a layered reality. His is a book about love and religion—the tyrannies of desire. The book weaves, rather than alternates between, a history of the Mormons and the history of a meeting and marriage. The result is a felt, then slowly understood, sense of lived lives. Stitt lives the question about loving and living, desiring and holding, and powerfully suggests that there is no one answer.