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One Foot in Heaven

One Foot in HeavenOne Foot in Heaven (Coteau Books, 2005; Amazon, 2013)

 Mennolit Debut is Not Lite. It’s risky murdering a child in the first pages of a work of fiction. Make it too real, too distressing, and readers will want to escape; soft-pedal it, and sentiment debases the incalculable loss. In his debut story collection, poet and veterinarian David Waltner-Toews delicately treads a knife edge, leaving us shaken and primed for more.” – The Globe and Mail (July 16, 2005)

The Toronto Star (Aug 21, 2005). No Trite Endings in These Linked Stories. “These mature gems are the creation of a mid-life writer who truly understands life exigencies. Let us hope that Waltner-Toews is busy at work on his next book.”

A brilliantly-written collection of linked short stories presenting the interconnected lives, and world views, of several Mennonite families in Winnipeg and northern Alberta. One Foot in Heaven opens and closes with Prom Koslowski, a character who flees murderous bandits in Russia, gains twin babies and loses their mother on a torturous journey through the mountains into India, and finally makes a life for himself and his children in rural northern Alberta. His children go to Mennonite high school in Winnipeg, and go on to missionary and other work in their adult lives. In various ways, they are both drawn to the South East Asian region of their beginnings. They interact with a host of other characters as they grow – the innocent veterinarian Ab Dueck, the enigmatic Jael Freed, Ab’s best friend George, whose own spiritual views differ so oddly despite arising from the same roots. In the fashion of much Mennonite writing, David Waltner-Toews uses both humour and pathos to present his characters juggling matters of the flesh and of the spirit in their quest for the true purpose of their lives and the best way to serve their god.

Winner of the Foreward Magazine Silver Medal for short stories (2005)

Winner, Best Regional Fiction – Canada West, Independent Publisher Book Awards (2006).

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