Tag Archives: Jean Janzen

Books Acquired Recently: Mennonites Plus One Edition

My recent book-buying binge has included a number of Mennonite authors. Aside from the Wes Funk books, which I ordered from Laird Books in Regina, Saskatchewan (and who provided excellent customer service), I acquired all of the Mennonite-related books from amazon.com’s network of independent sellers.

Birdsell, Sandra. Agassiz: A Novel in Stories. Minneapolis: Milkweed, 1991.

I haven’t read much of Birdsell’s work though she was one of the influential Mennonite writers at the beginning of the “Mennonite miracle” in Canadian writing during the 1980s. I decided that this summer would be a good time to remedy this lack.

Funk, Wes. Cherry Blossoms. Regina: Your Nickel’s Worth, 2012.

—. Dead Rock Stars. Illus. Kevin Hastings. Regina: Your Nickel’s Worth, 2015.

—. Wes Side Story: A Memoir. Regina: Your Nickel’s Worth, 2014.

I recently heard about Funk’s work. It is apparently explicitly queer, which is exciting because queer Mennonite literature is a major research interest of mine. I bought copies of all of his books that I could find (there’s one more that I haven’t been able to find anywhere).

Janzen, Jean. Elements of Faithful Writing. Kitchener: Pandora, 2004.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I haven’t read much of Janzen’s work, but am trying to remedy that. This book is one that gets cited often in metacritical discussions of Mennonite literature, and thus feels essential for me to read.

Waltner-Toews, David. One Foot in Heaven. Regina: Couteau, 2005.

I love Waltner-Toews’s poetry and am excited to read some of his fiction.

Yaguchi, Yorifumi. The Wing-Beaten Air: My Life and My Writing. Intercourse: Good, 2008.

I also really enjoy Yaguchi’s poetry, and look forward to reading this memoir.

The “plus one” referred to in the title of this post is the new Modern Language Association style manual, which I received free because I am an  MLA member:

MLA Handbook. 8th ed. New York: Modern Language Association, 2016.

Once I get a chance to read this I will have to write a post about how I feel about the changes, but just flipping through it and seeing some of the different formatting I am flipping out, and not in a good way. Double-plus ungood. I will have to decide whether or not to use the new formatting for my citations in future posts.

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Books Acquired Recently: Mostly Mennonites Edition

I’ve gone a little crazy (even for me) buying books the past few weeks. The primary reason for this is that I’ve been reading a lot of literary criticism (primarily from the Journal of the Center of Mennonite Writing), and whenever I do this I find out about books (both primary sources and other works of criticism or theory) that sound fascinating and that I have to buy. All of the Jean Janzen books, the Dallas Wiebe collection of stories, the Thomas King novel, and the Dominique Chew and Kolton Nay chapbooks were purchases stemming from this recent reading. The other two purchases were helped by the fact that I was in book-buying mode, which is a dangerous state!  Unless otherwise noted, all of these books were purchased from amazon.com’s network of independent sellers.

Chaudhuri, Amit. Odysseus Abroad. 2014. New York: Knopf, 2015.

I have not read any of Chaudhuri’s work before, but was intrigued by a review I read of this novel because it takes place in London and involves wandering around the city, a topic that I find fascinating in general. I decided to buy it now (and will read it over Spring Break a week from now) because I am going to London for the first time this coming summer and thought it would be helpful to read a story about it.

Chew, Dominique. The Meaning of Grace. Goshen: Pinchpenny, 2015.

I read about this and Kolton Nay’s book in Ann Hostetler’s recent article about teaching Mennonite literature (which, incidentally, references my 2001 edited collection [that was also published by Pinchpenny], How Julia Kasdorf Changed My Life: Reflections on Mennonite Identity). Both sound interesting because they deal with issues of Mennonite identity, an issue that I think and write about frequently, and Chew’s book is especially intriguing because she, like me, has one ethnic Mennonite parent and one non-Mennonite, person of  color parent. I bought both books directly from Pinchpenny Press, which is a chapbook publisher run by the Goshen College English Department.

Erdrich, Louise. The Master Butchers Singing Club. 2004. New York: Harper, 2005.

I love Erdrich’s novels about the Ojibwe community, and recently watched an interview with her where she talked about this novel, which is about the German-American community that her father was from. It sounds fascinating, and since I am also German-American on my mother’s side (though I usually speak of her heritage as Mennonite, which in our case is a very specific kind of German-American) it seems like a book I should read.

Janzen, Jean. Paper House. Intercourse: Good, 2008.

—. Piano in the Vineyard. Intercourse: Good, 2004.

—. Snake in the Parsonage. Intercourse: Good, 1995.

—. The Upside-Down Tree. Winnipeg: Henderson, 1992.

—. What the Body Knows. Telford: DreamSeeker, 2015.

Along with Julia Spicher Kasdorf and Jeff Gundy, Janzen is one of the Big Three of Mennonite poets, but I’ve only ever read one of her poetry collections. I’ve decided that it is necessary to remedy this situation.

King, Thomas. Truth & Bright Water. New York: Atlantic Monthly, 1999.

I loved the other book of King’s that I read (Green Grass, Running Water), and Truth & Bright Water sounds interesting because it is about the U.S.-Canada border, which is something I think about a lot now that I live relatively close to it.

Nay, Kolton. Imbalance. Goshen: Pinchpenny, 2015.

Hostetler’s article notes that Nay read part of this memoir at the 2015 Mennonite/s Writing Conference, which I also attended, but he and I did not get to meet. I look forward to encountering him on the page instead.

Wiebe, Dallas. The Transparent Eye-Ball and Other Stories. Providence: Burning Deck, 1982.

I really enjoyed Wiebe’s novel Our Asian Journey and have plans to eventually write about his work because he was an important early voice in  Mennonite fiction, but I had not realized that he also published this collection of stories (he also published some poetry that I have not read yet). I look forward to reading it. Despite being over thirty years old the volume is in excellent condition; the pages haven’t even begun to yellow.

 

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Books Acquired Recently

Cole, Teju. Open City. 2011. New York: Random, 2012.

I recently taught the first chapter of this novel in one of my writing classes as an example of psychogeography. A colleague had passed it on to me, and I was completely enthralled, so I decided to buy the book, and I look forward to reading it soon. Cole has a reading scheduled for April 10 in Ithaca, which is less than two hours from Utica. It will be good to hear him in person after reading his book.

Janzen, Jean. Entering the Wild: Essays on Faith and Writing. Intercourse: Good, 2012.

Janzen is the godmother of Mennonite poetry, one of my scholarly interests, thus I expect this memoir to be a fascinating one. I got it new for only $0.65!

Lachman, Becca J.R., ed. A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation With William Stafford. Topeka: Woodley, 2013.

I’ve been feeling the need to read more poetry lately, and had heard that several poets whose work I enjoy (Jeff Gundy, Todd F. Davis, and Ann Hostetler, among others) have poems in this anthology. Lachman herself is an up-and-coming Mennonite poet, thus I’m interested to see what I can glean about her aesthetic proclivities from the poems she has selected.

These three books were acquired via amazon.com’s network of independent sellers.

Luthy, David. Dirk Willems: His Noble Deed Lives On. Aylmer: Pathway, 2011.

My current research focuses on Stephen Beachy’s novel boneyard, which takes some of its essential elements from Thieleman J. van Braght’s 1660 collection of Anabaptist martyr stories, Martyrs Mirror. I’ve thus been reading a lot of the recent scholarship on van Braght’s text (there is a surprisingly large amount), and the acquisition of Luthy’s book is a part of this effort, as Dirk Willems’s story is by far the most famous one in Martyrs Mirror.

I acquired this book directly from the publisher.

Murphy, Yvonne C. Aviaries. Durham: Carolina Wren, 2011.

Murphy gave a reading at Utica College last week that was entertaining enough to entice me to buy her poetry collection. It includes a number of poems inspired by New York City that I have been enjoying.

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