“I called the bishop of the local ward, and he put the date of your move into the church bulletin, and these gentlemen came to help,” Brady, the real estate agent, says. Welcome to Wellsville, Utah. Good-bye, L.A.
Liz Stephens has come from Los Angeles to Utah for graduate school, and her brief stint working on a Taco Bell commercial is not much in the way of preparation for taking on the real West. In The Days Are Gods Stephens chronicles a move that is far more than a shift in geographical coordinates. With husband and dogs in tow, she searches for an authentic connection to this new community, all the while knowing that as an outsider she will never really belong. And yet precisely as an outsider, Stephens has a unique perspective on belonging, one that colors her accounts of attending her first small-town rodeo, living in the thick of a thriving Latter Day Saints religious community, raising goats in her laundry room, and observing the town’s racialized Founder’s Day battle reenactments. In her frank and particular way, Stephens shows how the culture of memory, as our inheritance, offers a balance to our brief attention spans and our brief lives.