Mennonites Don't Dance is a book of short stories by Kelowna author Darcie Friesen Hossack. I struggled mightily with this book when I first started to read it, but Jeremy had given it to me so I didn't want to put it down. As most of my friends and family know, I've avoided all kinds of dark literature and art for many years, thinking that cheerier fare would keep me in a more positive frame of mind. This is one of the darkest books I've read in a long time, with everything from a murder to dead kittens, drought, boredom, anger, torn wallpaper, dolls stuffed into the garbage and outright evil lurking in its pages.
I felt increasingly bewildered as I read as to where all this horror came from - the references to the Mennonite culture seemed so bitter to me and somehow retro. Two things helped me understand the book a little better. One was talking to Jeremy about it. He could deeply relate to the young father in "Luna" and recognized many other characters from his own childhood growing up in a Mennonite family and community. This got me thinking about some of the bitter events and some of the characters, some of them still in my life, that coloured my growing up years as well.
The other piece of the puzzle for me was reading the book The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain alongside Mennonites Don't Dance and realizing how far afield into the "rose-coloured glasses" syndrome I may be wandering as I get older. Protecting yourself from all stresses and stressful thoughts might feel comfortable but it's not doing your brain (or likely your character) much good in the long run to be wrapped in fuzzy cotton.
So, interestingly, Mennonites Don't Dance feels as though it could be a challenge for me to approach life with more gumption (now there's a retro word!). And I'd be most interested in meeting this courageous local author sometime.