Reviews & Interviews

Music Review: Anthropology by Paul Bergman

Paul Bergman, Anthropology (independent, 2015). CD, 10 songs, $15.00. (Digital download, 10 songs, $10.00.)

It’s rare to find an epigraph from Wallace Stegner on an album sleeve, rarer still to find an artist so keen on inhabiting its sentiment. But that is Paul Bergman, a folk and roots musician from southern Manitoba who’s been quietly crafting a remarkable catalogue of songs about life on the prairies for over a decade, and whose best output feels entirely appropriate next to the words of the great naturalist writer. More >

REVIEW: AFTER IDENTITY: MENNONITE WRITING IN NORTH AMERICA, EDITED BY ROBERT ZACHARIAS

Robert Zacharias, ed., After Identity: Mennonite Writing in North America (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2015). Paperback, 244 pages, $31.95.

After Identity is a collection of essays edited by Robert Zacharias, assistant professor of English at York University, Toronto. This collection was generated by a symposium held at Pennsylvania State University in May 2013. More >

REVIEW: GLORYLAND, BY CARLA FUNK

Carla Funk, Gloryland (Winnipeg: Turnstone Press, 2016). Paperback, 128 pages, $17.00.

 

The cricket plays on.

The body, second fiddle to the song.

–Carla Funk More >

ENDURING MUSIC: AN INTERVIEW WITH ANDREW BRAUN

Andrew Braun is a member of Rococode, whose latest record Don’t Worry It Will Be Dark Soon was released in February 2016. Paul Bergman’s latest record Anthropology was released in late 2015. Andrew and Paul both grew up in Altona, Manitoba, and were in a band together in high school. Andrew is presently based in Vancouver, BC; Paul remains in southern Manitoba. This dialogue about art and the meaning of musical endeavour took place via email over the summer of 2016. More >

REVIEW: SONS AND MOTHERS: STORIES FROM MENNONITE MEN, EDITED BY MARY ANN LOEWEN 

Mary Ann Loewen, ed., Sons and Mothers: Stories from Mennonite Men (Regina: University of Regina Press, 2015). Paperback, 180 pages, $19.95.

 

Mary Ann Loewen’s Sons and Mothers: Stories from Mennonite Men was conceived as a companion to Mothering Mennonite, a 2013 collection of essays by women about Mennonite mothers, edited by Kerry Fast and Rachel Epp Buller. A mother herself, Loewen teaches academic writing at the University of Winnipeg. When asked to review her provocative anthology, I was reminded of my challenging role as a generic mother in a seminary class in family systems. The professor had briefed the other participants for an exercise in role play, and when I questioned him about my part, he repeated: “You’re the mother.” At that time, I was six years into my real-life identity as the mother of a son who died at sixteen, leaving me without a script. More >

REVIEW: KNUCKLEBALL, BY ROGER GROENING

Roger Groening, Knuckleball (Winnipeg: Self Published, 2015). Paperback, 229 pages, $21.00.

 

Roger Groening’s collection of short stories is wickedly funny. Funny enough to make one wonder if Roger is related to Matt Groening, the creator of Homer, Bart, and Marge. This isn’t so far-fetched given that the late Delbert Plett, in his magazine Preservings, proclaimed a link between Matt Groening’s people and Steinbach. The stories in Knuckleball are set in a community called Shannon Creek, named after a drainage ditch that runs parallel to Highway 23 and empties into the Red River near Morris, Manitoba. The stories reference other towns such as Altona, Morden, and Roland, but conveniently avoid mentioning Lowe Farm or Kane. That Shannon Creek is a Mennonite town is made clear on nearly every page with often devastating wit. More >

REVIEW: HORSE-AND-BUGGY GENIUS: LISTENING TO MENNONITES CONTEST THE MODERN WORLD, BY ROYDEN LOEWEN

Royden Loewen, Horse-and-Buggy Genius: Listening to Mennonites Contest the Modern World (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2016). Paperback, 256 pages, $27.95.

 

Old Colony Mennonites have been called many things since attracting international attention for the rape and abuse of over 100 women in Bolivia in 2011. Genius is not one of them. And yet, provocatively, this is what Royden Loewen, chair of Mennonite Studies at the University of Winnipeg, has labelled these people in his new book. More >

REVIEW: RED WITH LIVING: POEMS AND ART, BY DIANE DRIEDGER

Diane Driedger, Red with Living: Poems and Art (Toronto: Inanna Publications and Education Inc., 2016). Paperback, 96 pages, $18.95.

 

Red with Living, Diane Driedger’s second poetry collection after Mennonite Madonna in 2000 is a personal journal comprised of poems and paintings set in the Caribbean and Canada, places the poet has lived, with detours to Ukraine, where she has travelled. These poems are not, however, primarily about place; front and centre in this work is the poet’s exploration of what it means to live as an embodied being, capable of experiencing both physical pleasure and physical pain. More >

Review: Armin’s Shorts, by Armin Wiebe

Armin Wiebe, Armin’s Shorts, (Winnipeg: Turnstone Press, 2015). Paperback, 252 pages, $19.00.

At times, Armin’s Shorts is a musical comedy that could make even your “grandmother sit up in her black trough coffin and laugh.” Yet the stories also offer a continuum between “reckless passion” and “matter of fact, practical urgency,” wherein Wiebe reaches deep into the muck of everyday life and imagination, and, at times, the unpleasantness hurts. More >

Review: Autobiographical Fictions, by Maurice Mierau

Maurice Mierau, Autobiographical Fictions, (Windsor: Palimpsest Press, 2015). Paperback, 80 pages, $18.95.

Maurice Mierau’s poetry collection, Autobiographical Fictions, brings together an eclectic sampling of historical and literary figures, artists, and celebrities. Self-described as both poet and “paparazzo,” Mierau draws not only from biographies, but also snippets of letters, interviews, and news articles. His subjects range from ancient poets, such as Ovid, to present-day pop stars, such as Britney Spears. The collection deliberately juxtaposes high culture with pop culture, injecting erudition with voyeuristic pleasure. More >