Tag Archives: Gordon Friesen

Books Acquired Recently

Clare, Eli. Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017.

Clare’s book Exile and Pride is an essential disabilities studies text, and when I saw that his new book had come out I ordered it immediately.

Cunningham, Agnes, and Gordon Friesen. Red Dust and Broadsides: A Joint Autobiography. Edited by Ronald D. Cohen. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999.

Friesen wrote the first important Mennonite novel in the U.S., Flamethrowers, and then fell off of the literary map until some relatively recent scholarly efforts to examine his work. I just found out that he co-wrote this autobiography with his wife, who was an important folk singer. My obsession with Mennonite literature compelled me to buy it right away.

Halberstam, J. Jack [as Judith Halberstam]. In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives. New York: New York University Press, 2005.

I enjoyed Halberstam’s book The Queer Art of Failure and frequently encounter citations of In a Queer Time and Place, so I thought I should finally buy it and read it for myself.

Lowrey, Sassafras. A Little Queermas Carol. Brooklyn, NY: PoMo Freakshow Press, 2016.

—. Roving Pack. Brooklyn, NY: PoMo Freakshow Press, 2012.

I immediately ordered all of Lowrey’s fiction after seeing hir read at AWP a few weeks ago. I loved hir novel Lost Boi, a BDSM retelling of Peter Pan, and I’ve already read and enjoyed A Little Queermas Carol, which is a BDSM retelling of A Christmas Carol.

McInerney, Jay. Bright Lights, Big City. New York: Vintage Books, 1984.

I received this book as a Valentine’s Day gift. I have heard of McInerney, but never read any of his work, so I look forward to experiencing it.

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Books Acquired Recently: Mostly Mennonite/Mostly Canadian Edition

I’ve been thinking and writing about Mennonite literature a lot lately, and this latest round of book-buying includes some of the earliest novels published in the field. It also includes one of the more recent works of Mennonite fiction and a book by someone with a Mennonite-sounding name (Kroetsch), though to my knowledge he has no Mennonite ties. Aside from Flamethrowers, all of the books take place in Canada.

Friesen, Gordon. Flamethrowers. Caldwell: Caxton, 1936.

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Flamethrowers is to my knowledge the earliest literary novel by a Mennonite published in the United States. It, like Kliewer’s book (and arguably like Wiebe’s), is rather critical of the community. I bought it from one of amazon.com’s booksellers. Hossack’s, Kliewer’s, and Wiebe’s books were also purchased via this method.

Hossack, Darcy Friesen. Mennonites Don’t Dance. Saskatoon: Thistledown, 2010.

I try to keep up on writing by as many contemporary Mennonite writers as possible, and just heard about Hossack’s short story collection from a friend. This person passed along the rumor that the publisher insisted on the title rather than on Hossack’s choice because books with “Mennonite/s” in the title sell better, especially in Canada where Mennonites are seen more as an ethnic group than as a religious one.

Kliewer, Warren. The Violators. Francestown: Jones, 1964.

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This is another early example of U.S. Mennonite fiction. I am tickled by the juxtaposition between the cover’s bucolic illustration and the book’s violent title.

Kroetsch, Robert. The Stone Hammer Poems: 1960-1975. 1975. Lantzville: Oolichan, 1983.

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I bought this at Back of Beyond Books in Moab, Utah, which is an excellent new-and-used independent bookstore. I’ve been wanting to investigate non-Mennonite Canadian literature more, and Kroetsch is an author in this category whom I’ve heard of, so I decided to buy his book. It is a lovely aesthetic object.

Wiebe, Rudy. Peace Shall Destroy Many. Toronto: McClelland, 1962.

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I already have the 1964 Eerdmans paperback edition of Peace Shall Destroy Many, which is the most important early piece of Mennonite literature, but I wanted a copy of the McClelland and Stewart hardcover edition because of its unique back cover, pictured here. The front cover of both the hardcover and first paperback printing has a white background with red lettering for the title and author’s name, and black lettering for the controversial plot description (Wiebe was the editor of a church newspaper at the time, not a “theologian.” He strongly objected to this description, but the publisher insisted on it). The back cover’s reversal of these colors is striking and foreboding. I acquired this copy for only $7.00 even though it is signed by Wiebe.

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