Tag Archives: Mennonites

Books Acquired Recently

Brautigan, Richard. Revenge of the Lawn, The Abortion, So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away: (Three Books in the Manner of Their First Editions). Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995.

I received this omnibus edition of three of Brautigan’s books as a Valentine’s Day present. The only book by Brautigan that I’ve read is Trout Fishing in America, and that was about 17 years ago, so it will be good to have a fresh dive into his work.

Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2014.

Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2014.

Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2014.

Some friends and I have recently started playing Dungeons & Dragons (yes, dear reader, it was possible for me to get even more nerdy). After completing our first adventure, we decided that we want to continue playing, so I decided to buy the box set of playing manuals. I purchased these, Williams’s, and Womack’s books from amazon.com.

Williams, David. When the English Fall. 2017. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2018.

This is a novel about how the Amish fare after an apocalyptic natural event. It sounds like a similar premise as Leigh Brackett’s science fiction classic The Long Tomorrow, which assumes that Mennonites will come to prominence after the fall of current American society because they are used to living simply without modern technology. Williams’s biographical statement says he is a Presbyterian, but in his author photo he is wearing an Amish-style beard, so I wonder if he is ex-Amish or has Amish ancestry.

Womack, Ytasha L. Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2013.

My current research project is about two African American speculative fiction writers, Samuel R. Delany and Sofia Samatar, so I thought I should do some reading about Afrofuturism, which I know a little about, but not much.

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Books Acquired Recently

Davis, Todd. Native Species. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2019.

Davis is a former professor of mine and he also kindly blurbed my new book. Native Species is his six full-length collection of poetry. I bought it directly from the publisher.

Gallop, Jane. Anecdotal Theory. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002.

I loved Gallop’s most recent book, Sexuality, Disability, and Aging, in which she discusses her earlier book Anecdotal Theory. The latter work sounds like it is relevant for my current project so I bought a copy from amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers.

Giovanni, Nikki. A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter. 2017. New York: William Morrow, 2018.

I received this signed copy from a friend who attended Giovanni’s reading at Colgate University earlier this week. I enjoy Giovanni’s work–I have one of her poems on my office door–but have not read any of her recent stuff, so I am looking forward to diving into this volume.

Whitman, Walt. “Leaves of Grass” and Other Writings. Edited by Michael Moon. New York: W.W. Norton, 2002.

I love Whitman, and thus ordered this exam copy from the publisher in order to read its paratext.

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Queering Mennonite Literature: Archiving, Activism, and the Search for Community

I am excited to announce that my book Queering Mennonite Literature: Archives, Activism, and the Search for Community has just been released by Penn State University Press!

Though the terms “queer” and “Mennonite” rarely come into theoretical or cultural contact, over the last several decades writers and scholars in the United States and Canada have built a body of queer Mennonite literature that shifts these identities into conversation. I bring this growing genre into a critical focus, bridging the gaps between queer theory, literary criticism, and Mennonite literature.

My analysis focuses on recent Mennonite-authored literary texts that espouse queer theoretical principles, including work by Christina Penner, Wes Funk, Jan Guenther Braun, Jessica Penner, Stephen Beachy, Corey Redekop, Casey Plett, Miriam Suzanne, and Sofia Samatar. Their books argue for the existence of a “queer Mennonite” identity on the basis of shared values: a commitment to social justice, a rejection of binaries, the importance of creative approaches to conflict resolution, and the practice of mutual aid, especially in resisting oppression. The book encourages those engaging with both Mennonite studies and queer studies to explore the opportunity for conversation and overlap between the two fields.

By arguing for engagement between these two identities and highlighting the aspects of Mennonitism that are inherently “queer,” the book gives much-needed attention to an emerging subfield of Mennonite literature. It makes a new and important intervention into the fields of queer theory, literary studies, Mennonite studies, and religious studies.

You can find Queering Mennonite Literature on the Penn State University Press web site at this URL: http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-27-108245-5.html. You can get 30% off by using the code NR18. Please ask your local libraries, whether institutional or public, to order a copy.

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Books Acquired Recently

Hostetler, Ann. Safehold. Telford, PA: DreamSeeker Books, 2018.

Hostetler is best-known for her 2003 anthology of Mennonite poetry A Cappella, but she is also an accomplished poet herself. Safehold is her second collection. I ordered it as soon as it was released. For some reason amazon.com didn’t have it right away, so I acquired it from Barnes & Noble.

Newton, Esther. My Butch Career: A Memoir. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018.

Lately I have been reading a lot of memoir, especially queer memoir, an interest that has stemmed from my teaching of memoir in my writing classes over the past few years. Queer life writing is incredibly important during this repressive age. I was able to get an examination copy of this book from the publisher because I am looking for some memoirs to include the next time I teach my Queer Literature course.

Vilar, Irene. The Ladies’ Gallery: A Memoir of Family Secrets. Translated by Gregory Rabassa. 1996. New York: Vintage Books, 1998.

I found this book online while searching for more information about the Puerto Rican freedom fighter Lolita Lebrón. Vilar is Lebrón’s granddaughter and her book is about the women in her family. I purchased it from Powell’s.

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Books Acquired Recently: Getting Paid Edition

I decided to spend some of the money I received for my recent New York Times article on a variety of books, some that I’ve been interested in for a while but have not gotten around to, a few that have recently been recommended to me, and a few that have recently been published by friends. Aside from Reed’s book, which I purchased from the publisher, I bought all of them from amazon.com.

Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. 4th ed. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 2012.

Baker, Nicholson. Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization. 2008. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009.

Broder, Melissa. The Pisces. London: Hogarth, 2018.

Dearinger, Amber, ed. The Heart of Aces. Manteca, CA: Good Mourning Publishing, 2012.

Esquibel, Catrióna Rueda. With Her Machete in Her Hand: Reading Chicana Lesbians. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006.

Fernandes, Fabio, and Djibril al-Ayad, eds. We See a Different Frontier: A Postcolonial Speculative Fiction Anthology. N.p.: Futurefire.net Publishing, 2013.

Hamilton, Jane Eaton. Weekend. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016.

Janzen, Rebecca. Liminal Sovereignty: Mennonites and Mormons in Mexican Culture. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2018.

Kaldera, Raven. Dark Moon Rising: Pagan BDSM and the Ordeal Path. Hubbardston, MA: Asphodel Press, 2006.

Lemus, Felicia Luna. Like Son. New York: Akashic Books, 2007.

Reed, Ken Yoder. Both My Sons. Morgantown, PA: Masthof Press, 2016.

Ruti, Mari. The Ethics of Opting Out: Queer Theory’s Defiant Subjects. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017.

Shipley, Ely. Some Animal. New York: Nightboat Books, 2018.

Zimmerman, Diana R. Marry a Mennonite Boy and Make Pie. Newton, KS: Workplay Publishing, 2018.

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My Article in the New York Times

About a month ago I was contacted by an editor from the New York Times who asked whether I would be interested in writing an article to accompany a photo essay about Mennonites in Belize. I said yes, and the article was published today. You can read it here.

Aside from several pieces in the Goshen College Record when I was in college, this is the first time I have written for a newspaper, and it was an interesting experience. I had to think about a very different kind of question when writing for a general audience than when writing for a scholarly one. It is also fascinating to me that the online headline, “A Simple Life,” is different from the one in the print edition, “Mennonites in Belize.” I am grateful to have had this opportunity to grow as a writer.

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Books Acquired Recently

I’ve been doing a lot of research on the Mennonite speculative fiction writer Sofia Samatar recently, including reading through lots of her interviews (a list of them is on her website). Interviewers often ask her about books she’s read lately and I’ve almost always never heard of them, so I try to buy the ones that sound interesting or helpful for my own work. These three books are examples of this gleaning.

Martin, Douglas A. Acker. New York: Nightboat Books, 2017.

I like Kathy Acker’s writing, and this book is blurbed by Maggie Nelson and Wayne Koestenbaum, two queer writers whose work I enjoy, so I am especially excited to read it.

Valente, Catherynne M. Palimpsest. New York: Bantam Books, 2009.

The premise of this novel is apparently that you have to have sex in order to enter the city where it takes place.

Zambreno, Kate. Heroines. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2012.

This book is about the wives of famous authors. I’m always interested in books that investigate the margins.

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