Book Acquired Recently: Shirley Hershey Showalter’s Blush

Showalter, Shirley Hershey. Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World. Harrisonburg: Herald, 2013.

Showalter was the president of my alma mater, Goshen College, when I was a student there, and we have since become friends, in part because we are both interested in Mennonite literature. Her new memoir, Blush, is sure to be an important addition to this field. It is the story of Showalter’s Mennonite girlhood in the 1950s and 1960s. This was a fascinating time in the Mennonite community because the world made it increasingly more difficult for Mennonites to remain sectarian because of temptations such as higher education and various mass movements for justice (especially the Civil Rights movement).

Although Blush is published by Herald Press, the official publisher of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada, the book anticipates a more-than-Mennonite audience via its glossary (if you don’t know what “the world” that I mentioned in the previous paragraph is, Blush‘s glossary will tell you!), which is wise considering the current memoir craze. Rhoda Janzen’s Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, a bestseller in 2009, has already carved out a Mennonite niche in this craze (here is Showalter’s notorious review of Janzen’s book); it will be interesting to see whether non-Mennonites remain interested enough to buy Showalter’s book. Bill Moyers blurbed it, which is impressive, and should certainly help the book get some play in bookstores. I look forward to reading it!

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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