Tag Archives: David Bergen

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

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: Mennonite Literature Edition

As I mentioned in a recent entry, I attended Mennonite/s Writing VII at Fresno Pacific University two weeks ago. Aside from the books that I bought at the conference, I also came away with a number of recommendations of books, and these texts have been arriving in the mail all week. I was able to order nearly all of them from amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers, but in two instances I ran into the issue of books published by Canadian companies not being readily available in the U.S. Thus I had to order Dueck’s book directly from Turnstone Press and Bergen’s book from a Canadian bookseller that I found on abebooks.com.

Bechtel, Greg. Boundary Problems. Calgary: Freehand, 2014.

Bechtel writes science fiction and is thus one of the very few Mennonite writers writing speculative fiction. This subfield is growing more and more, however, which is an exciting development.

Bergen, David. Leaving Tomorrow. Toronto: Harper, 2014.

Bergen is my favorite Mennonite novelist, and in recent years he’s been incredibly prolific, but sadly most of these books have not been published in the U.S.

Birdsell, Sandra. Night Travellers. 1982. Toronto: General, 1984.

I read this novel in stories straight through last night. What a powerful, early feminist Mennonite text!

Dueck, Dora. What You Get at Home. Winnipeg: Turnstone, 2012.

I read Dueck’s novel This Hidden Thing several years ago and thought it was only so-so, but I heard that this short story collection includes a story with a queer protagonist, and since LGBT Mennonite literature is a major interest of mine I decided to buy it.

Also, it is important to acknowledge the essential role Turnstone Press has played in support of Mennonite literature since they began publishing Mennonite writers in the 1980s. Aside from Dueck and Klassen, they have also published such heavyweights as Di Brandt, Patrick Friesen, and Miriam Toews.

Klassen, Sarah. The Wittenbergs. Winnipeg: Turnstone, 2013.

I met Klassen at the conference and she gave me a copy of one of her poetry collections for free (which I enjoyed), so I wanted to return the favor by making sure to buy one of her novels as well.

Redekop, Corey. Husk. Toronto: ECW, 2012.

This novel also apparently involves a queer protagonist.

—. Shelf Monkey. Toronto: ECW, 2007.

When I heard about Husk, I went to Redekop’s website to learn more about him and his work, and the description of Shelf Monkey (“Thomas Friesen has three goals in life. Get a job. Make friends. Find a good book to curl up with. After landing a job at READ, the newest hypermegabookstore, he feels he may have accomplished all three. … If you’ve ever thrown a book against a wall in disgust; if you’ve ever loved a novel that no one else can stand; if you obsess over the proper use of punctuation; this may be the novel for you”) was irresistible, so I bought it as well.

Snyder, Carrie. Girl Runner. New York: Harper, 2015.

I read this novel last weekend and it is excellent.

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Books Acquired Recently

Ai. No Surrender. New York: Norton, 2010.

Last Thursday I was grading some student essays about Martín Espada’s poetry reading on campus last month, and, as is often the case when reading student work, I was seized with an incredible desire to read literature (in this case poetry specifically) rather than reading writing about it. So after I was done at the office I walked up the hill to The King’s English Bookshop to look for some poetry because they have an excellent poetry section. I decided to buy Ai’s last collection even though I am not that familiar with her work–I’ve only read a few of her poems in anthologies. I read the book immediately and loved it! The collection consists primarily of long narrative poems, all very smooth, probably the best long poems I’ve read aside from Kenneth Koch’s. I highly recommend it.

Bergen, David. The Retreat. 2008. Toronto: Emblem, 2009.

As I’ve written here before, Bergen is one of my favorite novelists. However, I did not realize this book existed until I recently read his latest novel, The Age of Hope, which included The Retreat in the list of his previous books. Apparently it hasn’t been published in the U.S., which is why I didn’t receive the usual notification from amazon.com about “a new book from an author whose books you’ve purchased before.” However, I was able to find a copy of the Canadian edition from one of their used booksellers.

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Books Acquired Recently

Bergen, David. The Age of Hope. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2012.

Bergen is one of my favorite novelists, and I just found out that he has a new book out. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been published in the U.S. yet–aside from Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro, Canadian writers get zero respect here–so I had to find a copy from Canada online. I was able to find one from a bookseller in Ontario via abebooks.com.

Braddock, Jeremy. Collecting as Modernist Practice. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2012.

I have always loved collecting things, so this book sounded appealing. As it turns out, the book considers anthologies as collections as well as discussing collecting objects, which is something that I am also quite interested in. I am looking forward to reading it. This, Lukas’s, and Wiebe’s books were bought from amazon.com.

Lukas, Paul. Inconspicuous Consumption: An Obsessive Look at the Stuff We Take for Granted, from the Everyday to the Obscure. New York: Crown, 1997.

I really enjoy Lukas’s Uni Watch blog, in part because we share the same obsession with aesthetic detail. I just found out that he published this book on the subject fifteen years ago, and bought it right away. It looks like a nonfiction version of Nicholson Baker’s novel The Mezzanine, which is a good thing.

Wiebe, Dallas. Skyblue the Badass. Garden City: Doubleday, 1969.

I have been reading a fair amount of Mennonite literature over the past year after a long hiatus from the field. I’ve been struck by how few U.S. Mennonite novels there are in comparison to the Canadian tradition (including David Bergen), and have been making a concerted effort to read the few U.S. novels that do exist. Wiebe was one of the first U.S. Mennonite writers, but I’ve only read a few of his poems and one or two of his essays. All of his fiction is out of print, but I was able to find a copy of Skyblue the Badass (I couldn’t find any of Our Asian Journey) for $46.00. I bought it with some birthday cash. It’s in very good condition, and I love that the back cover has a note from my main man George Plimpton.

George Plimpton's note about Paris Review Editions.

George Plimpton’s note about Paris Review Editions.

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