Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



Excerpt: "One Foot in Heaven, David Waltner-Toews's first published collection of fiction, is ostensibly a cycle of fourteen stories, tracing the life of Prom, a Ukrainian immigrant who moves to Alberta; Prom's children and their friends; and Prom's neighbors and acquaintances. Yet One Foot in Heaven is far more than a compilation of finely crafted narratives. As with Waltner-Toews's other published work—both his half-dozen poetry collections and his nonfiction work on the environment—One Foot in Heaven reflects a keen sense of the relationship between the material and the spiritual. Just as Waltner-Toews's 1992 book on food poisoning (Food, Sex, and Salmonella) reminds us how intermeshed we are with the physical world (even, perhaps, when we would rather not be), his newest collection suggests our most spiritual selves will always be grounded by human longing and fallenness, despite our best intentions. The book's title implies this theme, a theme that resonates clearly through the fourteen stories: we are compelled to straddle two worlds, the material and spiritual, earth and heaven, so long as we live."


Originally published in The Mennonite Quarterly Review, 80 no 3 Jul 2006, p 486-488.