Tag Archives: Patrick Friesen

Books Acquired Recently

Auden, W.H. Selected Poems. Ed. Edward Mendelson. 1979. New York: Vintage, 1989.

I have been meaning to read Auden’s poetry for years now, and have often thought about buying a book of his, but for various reasons it didn’t happen. I found a used copy of his Selected Poems at Aaron’s Books in Lititz, Pennsylvania, for only $5.75 when I was visiting family for Thanksgiving, and decided that it was finally time to buy it.

Cook, Roy J., ed. One Hundred and One Famous Poems with a Prose Supplement. Chicago: Cable, 1929.

I received this from a coworker of my mother’s who knows that I  enjoy poetry. It is a small paperback book, rather beaten up (the back cover is missing, though all of the pages seem to be there), that originally cost $0.25 according to an advertising flyer within. It has poems by some well-known authors (Longfellow, Tennyson, George Eliot, Whittier, and so on) and some that I have never heard of before who must have been influential in the early twentieth century (the canon giveth and the canon taketh away, I suppose). It also contains Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine’s “give me liberty or give me death” essay, and the Magna Carta. The editor writes in the Preface that “Science and steel demand the medium of prose. Speed requires only the look–the gesture. What need then, for poetry? Great need!” How much truer now is this sentiment nearly a century later!

Espada, Martín. The Republic of Poetry. 2006. New York: Norton, 2008.

I am a big fan of the little of Espada’s poetry that I have read, and came across this collection while browsing at The Green Toad Bookstore in Oneonta, New York, recently. I decided to buy it immediately. I’ve already read it and it is excellent.

Friesen, Patrick. Interim: Essays & Meditations. Regina: Hagios, 2006.

Patrick Friesen is one of the writers who put Mennonite literature on the broader literary map, and I have enjoyed reading his poetry and drama throughout the years. I recently heard about this collection and decided to buy it, but it was difficult to find a copy because it was only published in Canada. I was able to find one for a reasonable price on abebooks.com.

 

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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: Authors Whose Last Names Begin With W Edition

Wilson, Mookie, with Erik Sherman. Mookie: Life, Baseball, and the ’86 Mets. New York: Berkley, 2014.

I collect books about the 1986 Mets because I, like most Mets fans, am obsessed with that team, so when I heard that Wilson had a memoir coming out I pre-ordered it immediately. It just arrived yesterday. On a related note, here is my favorite YouTube video of all time: the final half inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, which culminates in Wilson’s game-winning ground ball, re-created using the old Nintendo game RBI Baseball.

Wright, David. A Liturgy for Stones. Telford: DreamSeeker, 2003.

I am planning to do some writing about Wright (the poet, not the Mets’ third baseman, though I might do some writing about him, as well) this summer, and bought this book in anticipation of this project. However, I actually almost acquired it over a decade ago. Here is the story: at the 2002 Mennonite/s Writing conference in Goshen, Indiana, there were several raffles (what a weird word!), one of which I won. The prize was a set of books that had recently been published by writers at the conference, including texts by Patrick Friesen, Carla Funk, Julia Kasdorf, Maurice Mierau, and Douglas Reimer. A Liturgy for Stones was supposed to be included in this group, but its publication had been delayed (DreamSeeker had just been founded, and they were still working out the kinks), so it wasn’t there for me to collect with the other books. The conference organizers promised to send me a copy once the book came out, but they never did. I’ve only read a few of Wright’s poems, thus I am excited to finally have a long-delayed in-depth interaction with his work.

Both books were acquired from amazon.com.

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Ode to Mennonot

Mennonot, a zine “For Mennos [i.e., Mennonites] on the Margins,” published thirteen issues between 1993 and 2003 (though issue 12 appeared in 1999 and issue 13 did not appear until four years later). Happily, the full set has just been put online for free here. Mennonot included commentary on the state of institutional Mennonitism, interviews, reader rants, humor, and poetry by important Mennonite writers such as Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Jeff Gundy, and Patrick Friesen. It provided an important safe space for people who were raised Mennonite, but had questions about the tradition to air their “heretical” thoughts and encounter ideas from others going through a similar struggle. Retrospectively, I think that its most important contribution was its early (by Mennonite standards), unwavering advocacy for LGBT rights both in the Church and in broader society. There are numerous articles and letters from LGBT persons throughout Mennonot‘s run, beginning with the first issue.

I first encountered Mennonot towards the end of college, reading the last three issues, but I haven’t thought about it much since then. It feels good to get reacquainted! I’ve been reading through it for the past week or so, which has been enjoyable. It is fascinating to see what issues were important to “Mennonots” (a label which currently describes me) twenty years ago. Sadly, the institutional Mennonite Church is still nearly as oppressive of women and LGBT persons now as it was then.

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Ervin Beck on David Foster Wallace

There is a fascinating, impressively-researched article about David Foster Wallace’s relationship to religious faith by Ervin Beck in the latest issue of the Journal of the Center for Mennonite Writing. Wallace is one of my favorite writers, and Beck is a former professor of mine and one of the most important mentors that I’ve had, so I was very excited to read the article this afternoon. Despite its sectarian-sounding title (“David Foster Wallace Among the Mennonites;” Mennonites [including lapsed Mennos such as myself] love to talk about famous people’s connections with Mennonites, with Rembrandt being the most common example. Contemporary examples of celebrities who are either Mennonite or had/have strong Menno connections include Phyllis Diller, Newt Gingerich, Matt Groening, and the Canadian authors Rudy Wiebe, Di Brandt, and Patrick Friesen), the article is of interest for anyone who enjoys Wallace’s work or is interested in contemporary fiction. As is well known, Foster lived a tortured life, struggling with mental illness and constantly feeling that his work was never good enough despite its brilliance. Beck’s article does a beautiful job of sensitively addressing these issues and the role they played in Wallace’s interactions with his Mennonite acquaintances. This is no surprise, as Ervin is one of the sweetest, kindest persons I have ever had the privilege to meet.

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