Books Acquired Recently

Gundy, Jeff. Songs From an Empty Cage: Poetry, Mystery, Anabaptism, and Peace. Telford: Cascadia, 2013.

Jeff Gundy is one of my favorite poets, and he is also a friend of mine, so I buy anything he publishes. But I am especially excited about this book, which investigates the intersection between poetry and the transcendent. Gundy is one of the few active theorists in the small field of Mennonite literature, and to have him publish a new book of theory is a major event.

Spark, Muriel. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Girls of Slender Means, The Driver’s Seat, The Only Problem. New York: Everyman’s, 2004.

I was recently reading Patricia Waugh’s Metafiction, which discusses several of Spark’s novels in an engaging enough way that I decided I needed to read some of Spark’s work. I was happy to discover that Everyman’s Library has a volume of her fiction. I find the volumes in this series aesthetically delightful, especially their ribbon bookmarks. Note that, as I discuss in my post from 12 September 2013, because the title of the volume consists of titles of books, only the commas within the volume’s title get italicized.

Timms, Rachel, and Laurence Hayes. Whatever You Want: A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Novel. New York: Regan, 2003.

I recently read about the phenomenon of adult (and yes, this term does have a double meaning in the present instance) Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books. I enjoyed this type of book as a boy, and as someone who studies formal developments in fiction I am eager to see what kind of reading experience Timms and Hayes’s book offers.

All three books were purchased on

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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