Books Acquired Recently

Cruz, Nicky, with Jamie Buckingham. Run Baby Run. 1968. Newberry, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2016.

Wilkerson, David, with John Sherrill and Elizabeth Sherrill. The Cross and the Switchblade. 1962. New York: Jove Books, 1977.

Mennonites like to play what is known as the “Mennonite Game” whenever we meet a Mennonite whom we haven’t met before. We try to figure out how we are connected to them via mutual acquaintances. This often involves hearing their last name and asking, “Oh, are you related to (person with same last name that the person asking the question knows)?” “Cruz” is not an ethnic Mennonite name, but many Mennonites of a certain generation still know it because of Nicky Cruz’s and David Wilkerson’s memoirs about converting gang members from New York City to Christianity. So members of my family used to frequently be asked “Are you related to Nicky Cruz?” The answer is no. Cruz is about as common a name as “Smith” is, but most white Mennonites don’t realize that. I am doing some writing about my family’s Mennonite history, including my father’s experiences as a non-ethnic Mennonite, and decided that I should actually read Cruz’s and Wilkerson’s books to help me understand why they were popular with Mennonites in the 1960s and 1970s.

Miller Shearer, Tobin. Two Weeks Every Summer: Fresh Air Children and the Problem of Race in America. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2017.

Miller Shearer was one of my youth group advisers in high school before he went back to graduate school to get a Ph.D. in history. The Fresh Air program is one that many rural Mennonites have participated in, hosting children from cities (including some Mennonites) for several weeks in the summer. I heard adults talk about it all the time when I was a kid, so I look forward to reading his history of it.

Witwer, Michael, Kyle Newman, Jon Peterson, and Sam Witwer. Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History. Ten Speed Press, 2018.

As a result of my new Dungeons & Dragons obsession, I’ve been trying to read as much as I can about its history. I found this huge book about the game’s visuals on sale for $31.00 (the cover price is $50.00) and decided to buy it.

I purchased all four books from amazon.com because I had a gift card.

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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