Books Acquired Recently

All of these books were bought with an eye toward my impending summer break, which begins in three weeks!

Ames, Greg. Buffalo Lockjaw. New York: Hyperion, 2009.

Greg Ames gave a reading from his novel-in-progress at Utica College this past week, and I enjoyed it to the point where I decided to buy a copy of his previous book. He has an engaging, DeLillo-esque writing voice that my students also found engaging.

Buell, Lawrence. The Dream of the Great American Novel. Cambridge: Belknap-Harvard, 2014.

This hefty tome received a good review in the New Yorker recently, and I decided to buy it because it looks like it could be helpful for my teaching of American literature. In looking through the table of contents, it is clear that Buell pays attention to ethnic minority writers; we shall see whether he does an equally good job of acknowledging queer writers as well.

Plett, Casey. Lizzy & Annie. Illus. Annie Mok. N.p.: Fireball, 2014.

This illustrated chapbook is a story from one of my favorite queer (and Mennonite!) writers, who also has a collection of short stories coming out from Topside Press this summer. Lizzy & Annie only cost $5.00, and you can buy it here (scroll down to the bottom right for purchasing information).

Wiebe, Rudy. First and Vital Candle. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966.

I’ve thought about reading this, Wiebe’s second novel, on and off for the past decade or so, and since I’ve been thinking a lot about Mennonite literature lately I decided to finally take the plunge. (However, rather famously among Mennonite literary circles, the book does not actually contain any Mennonite characters, which is partly why it has taken me so long to get around to reading it.) I was able to find a copy of the first Eerdmans edition in fine condition from one of’s independent booksellers; there are a few rips in the dust jacket, but the volume itself is in excellent shape.

The way this first American edition was marketed (it was published at the same time in Canada by a more prestigious secular publisher, McClelland and Stewart) is fascinating. The dust jacket includes several blurbs extolling the novel’s Christian aspects. Clyde S. Kilby writes that “[t]his novel stands very close to the top among evangelical novels of this century,” and Charles A. Huttar adds that “Mr. Wiebe is remarkable among Christian novelists for his craftsmanship.” I know that later in his career (which is still ongoing, as rumor has it that Wiebe will soon publish a sequel to his first [highly controversial] novel, Peace Shall Destroy Many), Wiebe would strongly object to being pigeonholed as a “Christian novelist” instead of simply a “novelist,” so I wonder what his reaction to these meant-to-be-laudatory words was.


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