Tag Archives: Canada

Books Acquired Recently: Mennonite/s Writing Edition

This past weekend was the eighth Mennonite/s Writing conference. This year it was held at the University of Winnipeg. As usual, I came back from the conference with a number of new books!

Bergen, David, ed. 9 Mennonite Stories. Winnipeg: Mennonite Literary Society, 2017.

This book, which I got free in lieu of another author’s copy of Tiessen’s book, is the second of the trilogy of anthologies put out by the Mennonite Literary Society this year (Tiessen’s is the third and the first was one of poetry). It isn’t new work, which is a little disappointing, but is still valuable as a kind of “greatest hits” of Mennonite short fiction.

Funk, Carla. Gloryland. Winnipeg: Turnstone Press, 2016.

I won a book of Funk’s poetry in a raffle way back at the 2002 Mennonite/s Writing conference in Goshen, Indiana, and really enjoyed it. I have been meaning to read more of her work ever since, but just have not gotten around to it. I was browsing in McNally Robinson during the tour of Winnipeg that concluded the conference, and came across this recent volume. I am looking forward to getting reacquainted with Funk’s work.

Rempel, Byron. Truth is Naked: All Others Pay Cash. Winnipeg: Great Plains Publications, 2005.

I’ve encountered bits of Rempel’s work in Rhubarb, but have not read any of his books. I came across his memoir while browsing at McNally Robinson and it sounds fascinating.

Tiessen, Hildi Froese, ed. 11 Encounters with Mennonite Fiction. Winnipeg: Mennonite Literary Society, 2017.

This book is a set of essays on various pieces of Mennonite fiction by leading literary critics in the field. I got a free copy because I have a chapter in it. I read through most of it on the plane home yesterday and it’s a thought-provoking book.

Wiebe, Dallas. Monument: Poems on Aging and Dying. Kitchener, ON: Sand Hills Books, 2008.

Tiessen gave me a copy of this book, which was published by her and her husband Paul’s publishing company, because she knows that I love collecting Mennonite literature. I’ve read a lot of Wiebe’s fiction, but none of his poetry, so I look forward to checking it out.

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Books Acquired Recently

Amin, Kadji. Disturbing Attachments: Genet, Modern Pederasty, and Queer History. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017.

I got a promotional email about this newly-released book from the publisher and ordered a copy right away. It’s an investigation of queer theory through examining the reception of Jean Genet’s work. I have keen interests in both of these subjects. There is a drawing of a naked man in bondage on the cover, so I know the book will be right down my alley.

Rak, Julie. Boom! Manufacturing Memoir for the Popular Market. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013.

Rak, a life writing scholar, is going to be one of the keynote speakers at the Mennonite/s Writing VIII conference in Winnipeg next week. I bought Boom! in order to get an introduction to her work. I finished it last night and enjoyed it.

I ordered this book directly from amazon.com, and it took them a week and a half to ship it.

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Books Acquired Recently: Toronto Edition

torontobooks

I was in Toronto this weekend for the first time since high school. As usual when I travel, I looked up some independent bookstores to visit. I made stops at Ben McNally Books and Type Books (the Queen Street store). Although Type was smaller, it had better selection. McNally was rather disappointing, frankly (and it drove me nuts that their sections are not labelled: sometimes I don’t want to browse, I want to go straight to the poetry section), though I did end up finding two books, Cohen’s and Ruthnum’s, there. I spent over $100.00 CDN at Type–and could have spent at least $50.00 more–whereas there wasn’t much else that caught my eye at McNally. But I’m glad I got the chance to visit both and to support two independent businesses.

Bowering, George. A Short Sad Book. 1977. Vancouver: New Star Books, 2017.

Cohen, Leonard. Beautiful Losers. 1966. Toronto: Emblem Editions, 2003.

After reading Nick Mount’s recent book on Canadian literature I made a list of authors whose work sounded like it would be worth checking out. My purchases of Bowering’s  and Cohen’s books were a result of said list. I must note that the Cohen cover is hideous and it almost made me not buy the book even though I was looking for it specifically. “Never judge a book by its cover,” yes, but that doesn’t mean that good cover design is not important. A book should be beautiful as an object as well as as a repository of ideas and stories.

Jones, Dylan. David Bowie: A Life. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2017.

I love Bowie, and this new oral history about him was too tempting to pass up. It is interesting to note that the book does not list a city of publication: I had to look up where Doubleday Canada is located to complete my citation of it. I have noticed this omission in several other recently-published books as well. I don’t know whether this is a coincidence or the beginning of a trend, but either way it bothers me. Place is important, and it is thus helpful to state a publisher’s geographical context even when it is a big corporate publisher as in this case.

Roffman, Karin. The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.

I have been wanting to buy this book since it came out, but it felt like the kind of book I needed to buy from an independent bookstore rather than online or at Barnes & Noble. Going to Type was the first time I had been in such a store that had it in stock since its release.

Ruthnum, Naben. Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2017.

This slim volume was an impulse buy at the register, where it was temptingly displayed. Contra Cohen’s book, its cover sucked me in completely. I have been thinking about the relationship between food and literature lately as well as about postcolonial literature, so this book, which discusses all three, felt like a serendipitous find.

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Books Acquired Recently

Kraus, Chris. After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography. South Pasadena, CA: Semiotext(e), 2017.

Acker is one of my favorite postmodern novelists and I was thus very excited to hear about this new authorized biography of her. It immediately jumped up to the top of my to-read list. I bought it and Watson’s novel from amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers.

Mount, Nick. Arrival: The Story of CanLit. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2017.

As a result of my interest in Mennonite literature, which includes numerous Canadian authors, I have been slowly building an interest in Canadian literature in general over the past decade or so. I found out about Mount’s new book on the rise of Canadian literature as a cultural force beginning in the 1960s when I went on House of Anansi Press’s website to check where they are located since they have recently stopped listing their location in their books. I bought it directly from the website and began reading it as soon as it arrived. It’s quite enjoyable thus far.

Watson, Sheila. The Double Hook. 1959. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2008.

As part of my reading in my above-mentioned explorations of Canadian literature, I read an article about Watson’s archive, which includes some correspondence about the writing of this novel. The article made the novel sound interesting, so I decided to read it for myself.

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Books Acquired Recently

Bergen, David. Stranger. Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers, 2016.

David Bergen has been one of my favorite writers since I first encountered his work in college, and I have all of his books. While I have not liked much of his recent work in comparison to how I feel about his early books, he is still someone whose books I buy as soon as I hear about them no matter what. I bought this book from amazon.ca because it has not yet been released in the U.S.

Epstein, Robert. Turkey Heaven: Animal Rights Haiku. West Union, WV: Middle Island Press, 2016.

I haven’t been reading much haiku lately, but this book sounded interesting, in part because I am interested in haiku (and poetry in general) about social justice issues. I was able to get it from the author for $12.00, three dollars less than the cover price.

King, Michael A., ed. Stumbling Toward a Genuine Conversation on Homosexuality. Telford, PA: Cascadia Publishing House, 2007.

This book is a collection of essays by prominent Mennonites on homosexuality, which is still sadly seen as a theological issue by many Christians. I thought it would be worth reading since my primary research interest is queer Mennonite literature and it is helpful to know what the discourse around the topic is in the broader Mennonite community, but I must admit that even looking at some of the names in the Table of Contents makes my blood boil. I acquired it from amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers.

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Books Acquired Recently: More Mennonites Edition

I’ve spent the entire summer reading, thinking, and writing about Mennonite literature, which I have come to realize is now my primary field of study. As a part of this studying I’ve been reading a lot of Mennonite literary criticism, which has been tremendously enriching. The one problem with reading literary criticism, though, is that there are always books cited that I haven’t read before which sound interesting, so of course I have to buy them. These two books were acquired as a result of this process.

I have mentioned before how I strongly dislike the new MLA formatting, and most Mennonite studies journals use Chicago Style, so I have decided to start using Chicago Style in all of my writing, including here.

Vermette, Katherena. North End Love Songs. Winnipeg: The Muses’ Company, 2012.

Vermette is of mixed Mennonite and First Nations heritage, which makes her one of the very few Mennonite writers of color. Her work is thus right in my scholarly wheelhouse. This poetry collection was nominated for the Governor General’s Award, which is the Canadian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, so it should be a good read.

Weaver-Zercher, David L. “Martyrs Mirror”: A Social History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016.

Thieleman J. van Braght’s Martyrs Mirror is the ur-text of Mennonite literature, and is a book that has fascinated me ever since I was a teenager. It remains an influential book in both the field of Mennonite literature and Mennonitism as a whole. I was thus especially excited to hear about Weaver-Zercher’s book, which is a history of both van Braght’s book itself and how readers have interacted with it.

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Books Acquired Recently

Funk, Wes. Baggage. Regina: Benchmark, 2010.

I was very excited to be able to track down a copy of this rare book, which I found for sale on the Read Saskatchewan website. While all of Funk’s books are now technically out of print, his others are available as ebooks (which of course I eschew), so in a sense they are much less rare. I am happy to now have a complete set of Funk’s works.

Renker, Elizabeth. Poems: A Concise Anthology. Peterborough: Broadview, 2016.

I received an exam copy of this book from the publisher today. It looks like a very good teaching anthology because it includes poems from different time periods and cultures, and while nearly all of the poets included are canonical, some of the selections of individual poems are not. The book holds more than one could ever teach in a semester (it’s 789 pages, which believe it or not is actually fairly “concise” for a teaching anthology), but it is the kind of book that would be lovely for a student to keep on their shelf and dip into over the years. I hope I get a chance to teach a course where it would be appropriate to use sometime.

 

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