Return Stroke

Return Stroke: essays & memoir can be ordered from your local bookstore, from Commonword (commonword.ca; info@commonword.ca or toll-free 1.877.846.1593) or locally (Tsawwassen or Ladner) from me (please message me via Facebook or this blog).

Publisher’s description:

“These graceful, probing personal essays by award-winning fiction writer Dora Dueck engage with a diverse range of ideas (becoming a writer, motherhood, mortality, the ethics of biography, a child’s coming-out) because in non-fiction, she writes, “the quest for meaning bows to the experience as it was.” Yet within Return Stroke, one theme in particular resonates — change. “How wonderful,” the author writes, that our “bits of experience, no matter how ordinary, are available for further consideration — seeing patterns, facing into inevitable death; enjoying the playful circularity of then and now.”

The book’s title, Return Stroke — the title of one essay, where it literally refers to lightning — suggests such a dynamic: “When I send inquiry into my past, it sends something back to me.” The topic of memory, in all its malleability, impermanence, and surprising power, is especially central to the collection’s concluding piece, an absorbing memoir of the author’s 1980s life in the Paraguayan Chaco. Whether she is discovering the more meaningful part that imagination holds within her religious faith or relating with astonishing clarity and honesty the experience of giving birth away from her home country, Dora Dueck’s beautifully written essays and memoir make her an insightful and generous companion.”

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What Readers and Reviewers are Saying:

Her work has a muscular quality that will satisfy even those who claim to despise the genre. And it will deepen the experience of reading for those of us who love reading about other lives.

Return Stroke is a book to savour. Read it carefully, the way it was created.

— Shirley Showalter, former president of Goshen College, author of Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets the Glittering World and The Mindful Grandparent: The Art of Loving Our Children’s Children


Dora Dueck outdoes herself with every book that she writes. I marvel at her craft. Every word counts and every trope (like the one in the title!) illuminates the territory. This is the kind of writing that invites a reader to slow down, to savour the beauty while pondering the intersections of history and poetry. Dora Dueck is surely one of Canada’s finest writers of both fiction and creative non-fiction.

— Magdalene Redekop, Professor Emerita, University of Toronto, author of Making Believe: Questions about Mennonites and Art