Archive - 2018

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The “Cat Person” is an RPCV (Kenya)
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Review — AMERICRUISE by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras)
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Why Paul Theroux Loves Cape Cod (Malawi)
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Review – LONGING TO BE FREE by Judith Guskin (Thailand)
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Talking China with Michael Meyer
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FIRST, YOU GET PISSED by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon)
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Review — SHADE OF THE PARAISO by Mark Salvatore (Paraguay)
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Review — STORIES MAKE THE WORLD by Stephen Most (Peru)
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New books by Peace Corps writers — March 2018
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LETTER FROM ECUADOR

The “Cat Person” is an RPCV (Kenya)

Thanks to a “heads up” from NPCA’s Worldview Magazine and Peter Deekle (Iran 1968-70) I’ve learned that writer Kristen Roupenian (Kenya 2003-05) is a Peace Corps writer. Kristen’s story “Cat Person” in The New Yorker [December 11, 2017] about online dating was the weekly magazine’s second-most-read story of 2017. Also Scout Press has paid a reported seven figures for the rights to two works by Roupenian. The first is a collection of stories, You Know You Want This that is scheduled for release in the spring of 2019. In Worldview article on the achievements of RPCVs, Peter Deekle writes that as a PCV Kristen taught public health and HIV education at an orphan’s center a few hours from the Ugandan border, then worked as a teacher’s aide and a cashier in a bookstore before earning a Master’s degree in English at Harvard. Next she devoted five years to full-time writing. Today Kristen . . .

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Review — AMERICRUISE by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras)

  Americruise (Travel) Second edition Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975–77) Self published September 2017 108 pages $13.95 (paperback) Reviewed by David H. Greegor (Mexico 2007-11) • Americruise by Lawrence F. Lihosit is a short book with a mega font perfect for geezers like me, although this 2017 second edition (first edition published in 1993) wasn’t written just for the geriatrics amongst us; the author wrote the original when he was 33. For roughly the first quarter of the book, I can’t say as I liked it at all. I thought the author was wacko with a complete disregard for syntax and the rules of the English language. His style defies description. This completely threw me off at the outset, quite likely because I’d never read anything by Mr. Lihosit before. His crazy syntax reminds of someone writing English but throwing in some Spanish rules of grammar. This makes sense because the heroine in . . .

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Why Paul Theroux Loves Cape Cod (Malawi)

  Thanks for the ‘Heads Up’ from Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971–73) Q & A in The New York Times, April 16, 2018 — JCoyne • Why Paul Theroux Loves Cape Cod By Dave Seminara, New York Times As a child, the author was taken with the sunshine and beaches. He now spends every summer there because “nothing ever changes.”   For 50 years, Paul Theroux’s addictive novels and brutally honest travel narratives have inspired readers to leave home, travel slow and with a purpose beyond sightseeing. His versatility and boundless curiosity shine in Figures in a Landscape, a new collection of essays (to be published on May 8), and in his latest autobiographical novel, Mother Land (which will be published in paperback on May 1), where Mr. Theroux takes readers to his beloved Cape Cod and deep inside the Machiavellian world of a large, dysfunctional family run by a scheming matriarch. It’s a deeply revealing . . .

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Review – LONGING TO BE FREE by Judith Guskin (Thailand)

  Longing to Be Free: The Bear, the Eagle, and the Crown by Judith Guskin (Thailand 1961-64) Wonder Spirit Press 436 pages $19.36 (paperback), $11.99 (kindle) March 2018 Reviewed by Darcy Meijer (Gabon 1982-84) • Longing to Be Free is a fine piece of historical fiction, and it could well be used in middle and high school history classes. The novel deals with relations between settlers and Native Americans in New England between 1630 and 1677, and the politics in England which drove them. It is a complicated and sad story, and Guskin builds tension skillfully till the final bloody war. The novel focuses on Comfort Bradford, fictional daughter of Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford, who fled England to the Netherlands to escape religious persecution, then on to establish the Colony in Massachusetts. Comfort grows up close friends with the local Wampanoags, led by Chief Massasoit, and she learns the . . .

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Talking China with Michael Meyer

   In the March/April issue of The Writer’s Chronicle I published this interview with Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) about his China books. Michael is one of what I call the “China Gang” who in the late ’90s went to China with the first groups of PCVs and wrote books about their host country. The RPCVs are, besides Meyer, Craig Simons (China 1996-98), Rob Schmitz (China 1996-98), and Peter Hessler (China 1996-98). — John Coyne   Michael Meyer is a recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar award, and a two-time winner of a Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing. His stories have appeared in The New York Times, Time, Smithsonian, Slate, the Financial Times and [on] This American Life. He has also had residencies at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy. He is a current fellow . . .

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FIRST, YOU GET PISSED by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon)

  To read Chapter One of Mary-Ann Tirone Smith’s (Cameroon 1965-67) new memoir, First, You Get Pissed, go to her home page mary-anntironesmith.com. Consecutive chapters will appear weekly, every Sunday, along with a link to the previous chapters. Comments are welcome by Mary-Ann and might even evolve into a new spin on a book discussion group. Mary-Ann’s second novel, Lament For A Silver-Eyed Woman, published in 1987, was the first novel written by an RPCV about the Peace Corps. Back in 2012 I asked Mary-Ann how she first got published and she told me — When I finished my second novel,  The Book of Phoebe (the first was really bad), I could not get an agent because I hadn’t been published, and of course, I couldn’t get published because I didn’t have an agent.  Catch-22. Then I read an interview in my local paper with a writer who mentioned that her editor was Kate . . .

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Review — SHADE OF THE PARAISO by Mark Salvatore (Paraguay)

  Shade of the Paraiso: Two Years in Paraguay, South America – A Memoir by Mark Salvatore (Paraguay 1989–91) Melbourne: Vine Leaves Press April 2018 292 pages $14.99 (paperback) Reviewed by Ben East (Malawi 1996–98) • MARK SALVATORE  writes simple, declarative sentences. His Peace Corps memoir, Shade of the Paraiso, is stripped to fact and detail, observation and truth. Even its replication of time — passing slowly at first, building inexorably over months, then racing quickly to its conclusion — makes the narrative foremost a work of literary control. It’s an art, how much the writer reveals of his existence in rural Paraguay — all the while revealing little of his own true emotions. The closest we get to knowing Salvatore is to appreciate his obvious fortitude in the face of familiar Peace Corps challenges: the petty counterpart; the bullying ‘big-man’; the general estrangement from community; the recurring uncertainty. Even . . .

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Review — STORIES MAKE THE WORLD by Stephen Most (Peru)

  Stories Make the World: Reflections on Storytelling and the Art of the Documentary By Stephen Most (Peru 1965-67) Berghahn Books 2017 279 Pages $27.95 (paperback), $150.00 (hard cover), $15.37 (Kindle) Reviewed by Alana DeJoseph (Mali 1992-94) • FIRST AND FOREMOST,  let me state that this book is dense. It is packed full of wisdom and insights and history. It is not a fast read, nor is it an easy read, but it is well worth the time and enormously enriching and enlightening to anyone who delves into it. I should also say that I have had the opportunity to work with the author Stephen Most on two documentaries and feel much the wiser for it. Reading this book as we are developing A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps  was a fortuitous turn of events. Most’s clarity of vision and deep understanding of the complexities of documentary filmmaking . . .

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New books by Peace Corps writers — March 2018

  To purchase any of these books from Amazon.com — Click on the book cover, the bold book title, or the publishing format you would like — and Peace Corps Worldwide, an Amazon Associate, will receive a small remittance from your purchase that will help support the site and the annual Peace Corps Writers awards.   We are now including a one-sentence description — provided by the author — for the books listed here in hopes of encouraging readers  1) to order the book and 2) to volunteer to review it. See a book you’d like to review for Peace Corps Worldwide? Send a note to Marian at peacecorpsworldwide@gmail.com, and we’ll send you a copy along with a few instructions. • Human Rights. They Matter. by Justin Bibee (Morocco 2014–16) Blurb February 2018 106 pages $57.79 (hardcover) Human Rights. They Matter. is a collection of human rights quotes that impel change and help bring about a new consciousness on the part of . . .

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LETTER FROM ECUADOR

  Moritz Thomsen died in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on August 28, 1991. The official cause of death was listed as coronary thrombosis, but Thomsen had come down with cholera about two weeks before his death. He refused to go to a hospital and, during the last forty-eight hours, refused any and all treatment. After his death, his close and good friend, Mary Ellen Fieweger wrote about Moritz Thomsen and his final days. The following is an excerpt from her letter to a friend of Moritz’s  in California. It is reprinted here with the author’s permission. First published in RPCV WRITERS & READERS in March 1992 His body was cremated, a wish he expressed a number of times over the years. This took place at the only mortuary concern in Guayaquil offering that particular service, Los Jardines de Esperanza, at the southern edges of the port city. To get to the Gardens . . .

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