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Last night, I read "Grinning Man," one of the Alvin Maker stories by Orson Scott Card. The man can write entertainingly, even when it is more of the same, maybe even coming under the rubric of potboiler. I almost felt I could take certain themes, sayings, settings of his, rearrange them and come up with an Alvin story of my own. It's one thing to charm the reader with the familiar and recognizable; it's another to cobble together the same old stuff to write another story. Which is it? Read the novella and decide for yourself.

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