Mennonites Don't Dance

Mennonites Don't Dance

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
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This vibrant collection of short fictions explores how families work, how they are torn apart, and, in spite of differences and struggles, brought back together. Darcie Friesen Hossack's stories in Mennonites Don't Dance offer an honest, detailed look into the experiences of children - both young and adult - and their parents and grandparents, exploring generational ties, sins, penance and redemption.

Taking place primarily on the Canadian prairies, the families in these stories are confronted by the conflict between tradition and change - one story sees a daughterin- law's urban ideals push and pull against a mother's simple, rural ways, in another, a daughter raised in the Mennonite tradition tries to break free from her upbringing to escape to the city in search of a better life. Children learn the rules of farm life, and parents learn that their decisions, in spite of all good intentions, can carry dire consequences.

Hossack's talent, honed through education and experience, is showcased in this polished collection, and is reflected in the relatable, realistic characters and situations she creates. The voices in the stories speak about how we measure ourselves in the absence of family, and how the most interesting families are always flawed in some way.

Publisher: Saskatoon, Sask. : Thistledown Press, 2010.
ISBN: 9781897235782
Branch Call Number: HOS
Characteristics: 201 p.
Alternative Title: Mennonites do not dance

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BPLNextBestAdults Jan 17, 2013

These 11 stories are set on farms in southern Saskatchewan or in the big city of Calgary. As the title suggests, almost all the characters are Mennonites, but the focus is on family relationships. Traditions can bring families together or tear them apart. Juxtaposing Mennonite tradition with the modern world emphasizes the differences between generations. The parents in the older generation come in 2 sorts: either unlovable and angry or remarkably forgiving. People in the next generation are caught in between. The men try to be good fathers, but they are trapped within their limitations. The women become mothers who take turns, both loving and resenting their daughters. Much is left unsaid. Not only does Hossack not tie up the loose ends, she never suggests what the reader should think or feel. Because the stories are about the tensions between children and parents, husbands and wives, grandparents and grandchildren, and different ways of looking at life, adherence to tradition and searching for new ways, there is a universal appeal to the stories.

u
uncommonreader
May 01, 2012

Short stories about Mennonites on the prairies. A little uneven.

m
MsLit
Dec 02, 2011

Very well written book of short stories set in the Canadian Prairies. Beautiful, spellbinding stories of struggles of families with the conflicts of poverty, tradition and familiar love.

Cdnbookworm Sep 10, 2011

This collection of short stories has a base in the Mennonite community with all the main characters either living in a prairie Mennonite community, or coming from one. Some characters appear in more than one story, although in a subtle way.
Some stories were sad, some happy, but all spoke of the relationship between people and family dynamics.
A great addition to Canadian short stories.

quagga Aug 26, 2011

I wasn't wowed by Hossack's plain writing style, which relies heavily on exposition, and I found some of the stories too sentimental. Miriam Toews is more to my taste.

ksoles Aug 08, 2011

A Saskatchewan farm boy struggles to coexist with his moody father, who considers humanity a plague of locusts. A mother and pregnant daughter-in-law quibble over a pie but later unite in parenthood's greatest tragedy. A young girl moves to her grandparents' farm after her parents divorce and realizes that the future rests in her own hands. A daughter recounts her depressive mother's childhood while drowning in bitter grief.

The characters in "Mennonites Don't Dance" authentically and fully integrate with their settings; they define themselves by land and climate but also by familial expectations. Certainly, patriarchs rule these families but the author portrays mothers and children with equally arresting clarity.

Darcie Friesen Hossack prose is mesmerizing and ingeniously understated. She maintains strict narrative control while combining clean images with plot elements of both surprise and inevitability. As a result, the reader experiences authentic sentiment throughout this collection, which succeeds in maintaining structural depth, psychological intricacy and stunning emotional impact.

debwalker Feb 19, 2011

"Arresting, mesmerizing, authentic, stunning"
Reiewed by Jim Bartley
Globe & Mail Feb 19, 2011
Story collection short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for first fiction, Canada and the Caribbean.

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