Another book written to cash in on the believing ancestors of the author. Good for the rubber- neckers who want to read the stories of her childhood, even better for those who have no reference point to Mennonite life. I think the only honest things the author said were, one, her family is not impressed with her using them for the enterprise and two, that she is an Episcopalian and not Mennonite. I think the title is meant to capture a larger Mennonite audience that will be sorely disappointed in the work. I gave up reading it around the third chapter, as the book rambles too much and doesn't appear to have much of a point to it. I didn't want to give up reading The Body, I feel that anyone who I review deserves to have the entire book read, but I also inter-library loaned "What Are Mennonites Thinking About? 1998" and that fully captured my attention.
Resisting categorization as a "Mennonite poet," Julia Kasdorf appears to bare all in this book of essays touching on the North American Mennonite experience and her own experience growing up and out of a Mennonite community. Her first book, "Sleeping Preacher," a prize-winning collection of poetry, excerpts of which have appared in The New Yorker and have been read on National Public Radio by Garrison Keillor, put her in the "Mennonite" category. Her second, "Eve's Striptease," another collection of poetry, downplayed the "ethnic poet" category. In the latest book we find out that Kasdorf is not just a poet, she's not just Mennonite either. She confesses that she has become an Episcopalian (of all things; I'm waiting to read how she reconciles King Henry VIII and "gelassenheit.")
About the only category that really fits Kasdorf is brilliant. The essays in this book range from the deeply personal to academic, but all are highly readable. Whether we are seeing the real Julia or she is doing a Sally-Rand-intellectual fan dance, only she knows. This book will appeal not only to persons with a particular interest in Mennonites, but to anyone who enjoys great writing.