Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Report: Let's Hear It For The Little Black Dresses

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
At last, a Mennonite who writes like a Jew.  Profane, profound and wickedly funny.  This is one of those juiced up autobiographies where the author admits to some exaggerations for the sake of the narrative.  The book is not so much about Mennonites or black dresses as it is the author's coming to terms with the fact that the man whom she loves left her for another man named Bob whom he met on, followed by a serious car accident six days later that left her with multiple broken bones.

Rhoda Janzen grew up in California, of Russian Mennonite immigrants, who belonged to the Mennonite Brethren Church, a less severe form of Mennonitism than most of the conservative Mennonites with whom people in the Midwest and the east are familiar.  She is now an English professor at Hope College in Michigan

For some reason, several of my friends who are women disliked the book immensely.  It would be fun to talk about the reasons for that. They have said they didn't like the tone she took towards her family, particularly her sisters-in-law whom she skewers rather effectively; that she seemed to flaunt her education and the freedom to use words not normally heard in polite company, and that some of the factual details are wrong.  I have my suspicions about why men might react differently to the book than women.  It probably has to do with why men are always more charitable towards beautiful women in little black dresses.

This book has gotten a lot of attention nationally, getting rave reviews in the New York Times, Time Magazine and other national outlets.  She is apparently now writing another book tentatively called "Backsliding," in which she tells about her journey back to a more spiritual outlook and her marriage to a truckdriver.  I can hardly wait.


forsythia said...

Started it; didn't finish it.

Uncle Menno said...

The title caught my eye all right, as even Amish girls in their Sunday black best are right fetching.

Still, after reading a while in this thing, I got to thinking that this girl's dipstick doesn't reach very far down into the oil. I wondered if she married this guy because he matched her purse or something. Or maybe she'll do just about anything for a wisecrack. I don't know. I'm just an old and pretty well used up Mennonite I guess.

Crockhead said...

Uncle Menno, you're even older than you realize, if you think "this gal's dipstick. . ." is the right analogy in this case. To put it bluntly, she doesn't have a dipstick. I think what you meant was "this gal's slippers are a couple of bucks short of a pair of Manolo's." Or, maybe "this gal's skirt is a couple of inches short of her knees." Or, "this gal's locks are a couple of inches short of her ass." But the dipstick and the oil thing just doesn't work. And, you used to be a good writer.

sculptress said...

Uncle Menno? You are scaring my cat! Well, she does sound interesting. My curiosity if peaked. Now I have to run out and get it.

Anonymous said...

In the words of Blaine and Antoine, "hated it!"