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Once Removed

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  69 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Timothy Heppner is a frustrated ghostwriter struggling to make ends meet in Edenfeld, a small Mennonite community bulldozing its way towards modernity--if it's old, it has to go! A member of the Preservation Society but desperate to keep his job with the mayor's Parks and "Wreck" department, Timothy finds himself in an awkward position when he is hired to write an updated ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 15th 2020 by Turnstone Press
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
With a humorous and folksy style, this book speaks to the contradictions inherent in modern life. Even while we intend to do good and try to live well, we are forced into economic and moral compromises. Are sinister politicians to blame for our loss of traditions? Is our economic necessity an excuse for our complicity in a corrupt and self-destructive system? Or are our moral quandaries nothing more than the humorous foibles of small town life?
Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Once Removed is a very appropriate title for this witty and sinister read. Edenfeld is at one remove from the big city, It is at one remove from modernity and it's oldest buildings keep getting torn down. What counts as the truth is determined by the shadowy mayor and there are weird consequences for independent thought. It is reminiscent of Orwell's 1984 and today's preoccupation with fake news. ...more
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Armin Wiebe says this book is "sinister as Hitchcock". I like that. It's hilarious, but there's also a dark element and a sadness found in these pages. When the trees come down and all the historic buildings are gone, what is left? And what of the Mennonite culture? Edenfeld, it seems, is slowly becoming another generic suburb of the city. I loved the use of detail in this book, and even if I couldn't understand all the Plautdietsch, the context made it relatable. Funny, clever, but also, yes, " ...more
Grace K.
Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh, wow! I enjoy the Daily Bonnet, but this is another level. Hilarious, yes, but brilliant and thought-provoking, too. Without disclosing any spoilers, I was sad during the chapter with the Hiebert housebarn, but Unger has this way of inserting levity just when it's needed. Loved this book! ...more
MaryLou Driedger
Dec 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There was an almost perpetual smile on my face as I read this book. The author is the creator of the hugely popular news website The Daily Bonnet. His wry sense of humour which he uses to satirize all things Mennonite for his thousands of social media followers is clearly evident in his novel.  

Timothy Heppner the hapless hero of Once Removed is a ghostwriter in the town of Edenfeld. I chuckled as Timothy quoted a poem from a book by one of his clients, a Mrs Esau, who specializes in odes to bor
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read most of this while waiting for a fuel pump to be replaced in my car. This is good quality Kanadier Mennonite (1870s immigration) humor, playing on the extended stereotypes of the author's community in Southern Manitoba. Some humor may be a little "inhouse", as will the Low German slang that is used but not explained.

Unger writes the "Daily Bonnet" blog, and this book is an extension of that blog's humor.
Elma Schemenauer
Oct 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I like the title of this novel. ONCE REMOVED is a gentle jab at Mennonites' interest in who's related to whom, and how closely or distantly. The title may also refer to the painted canvas floor coverings done by Mennonites of the past. The book cover features what looks like a fragment of a floor covering that has been removed from its original location and unfortunately torn in the process.

The title ONCE REMOVED could also relate to the book's central conflict. BLT Wiens, mayor of Edenfeld, wan
Feb 23, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this in advance of a podcast interview with Andrew Unger, but was not provided with a copy of the book for these purposes.

I loved this fun little look into Mennonite culture and the push/pull between progress and tradition. It is VERY Mennonite, lots of hilarious references to the culture, history, language, food, faith, and self-awareness of this part of my family tree. There were moments I laughed out loud, some where I chuckled, and some where I just wanted to turn the page to see what's
John Senner
Oct 30, 2020 rated it liked it
As one who grew up in a small Mennonite town struggling to span the old and the new, I feel for the struggles of one worker at the Parks and Rec Department of a town with a superprogressive mayor who does not want to preserve any of the town heritage. The worker is commissioned by the Preservation Society to write the history of the town, which comes to over 900 pages. I am sure this book is more suited for residents of Steinbach, Manitoba or Buhler, Kansas then those living in the big, big city ...more
Oct 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
A fun to read work of contemporary Mennonite fiction? satire? comedy? All of that. Lots of Mennonite in jokes. I laughed. But also a slightly sad commentary on our vanishing history.
I added a whole star just for the hilarious fact that he mentions Wonder Oil (pronounced “Vunder Öl” in my mind when I read it), and also this witty mention: The Wrath of Krahn. Ha!!!
Jan 13, 2021 rated it liked it
Fun, satirical, menno story!
Sharon Hiebert
May 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely delightful!
Darrell Reimer
Feb 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Andrew Unger’s Once Removed is concerned with the eager accommodation our tribe makes for “progress” and “modernization” — a tricky balancing act for us all, to be sure.

Unger’s young characters brew beer in the garage, put on rock shows in the housebarn, cover themselves with tattoos of Anabaptist martyrs, even earn graduate degrees in post-modern feminism — activities that would have earned immediate excommunication from our forebears. Yet Timothy Heppner and his millennial coterie are ill-at-
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Andrew Unger is a writer, speaker, and educator from Steinbach, Manitoba, best known as the author and founder of the Mennonite satire website The Daily Bonnet. His work has also appeared in Geez, Rhubarb, Ballast,, the Winnipeg Free Press, and many others. If you go back far enough, he's probably related to you. ...more

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