Thursday evening saw the official launch of this anthology of Mennonite writing. The only disappointing part was that weren’t any ‘squares’ to snack on. My outsider’s view of Mennonites had led me to expect a table full of home-baked goods, even at a reading.
Here’s Elsie, with well-known Vancouver poet, Jeff Derksen, one of the writers who seemed to dig a little for his connections to being Mennonite. Other established authors who read were Andreas Schroeder and Barbara Nickel.
One of highlights for me had to Joe Wiebe, just freshly graduated from UBC’s MFA program (congrats!). Even though he read only a section of his story, I had to go home and read the rest, as I’d been hooked by its taut interplay among old friends. One of the lines I fell in love with was this, a description of a fine Argentine Shiraz: . . . he wants to hold it in his mouth and never swallow.
There’s enough in here to ‘hold in your mouth’ and keep you reading for some long while, even if, like me, you’re no particular kind of believer. Despite their shared background, quite a few of these characters don’t seem too dedicated to religion either. I leave you with this from Deborah Campbell’s, “I Shall Not Want”: He [Grandfather] wants to know if I’ve found a good church and I tell him I have. I don’t tell him it’s the Church of Sleeping in on Sundays, because I don’t want him to stay awake nights, worrying about the fate of my soul.
To this, I can only add, Great – tomorrow’s Sunday.