Literary Type

News of writers who have served in the Peace Corps.

1
Michael Meyer’s (China) new book coming In October
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Make Love Not War . . . Will Siegel (Ethiopia) writes Haight Ashbury novel
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Novels nominated for Maria Thomas Fiction Award — 2016
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Taylor Dibbert (Guatemala) at HP – not Hewlett/Packard!
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Paul Theroux on New Yorker Radio Hour (Malawi)
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Paul Theroux’s Peace Corps Prose (Malawi)
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Leita Kaldi Davis wins Lillian Carter Award (Senegal)
8
Poet John Robert “Jack” Mueller (India) dies in Grand Junction, Colorado
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EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR THE BEST: a true 1960s love story (Ecuador)
10
Writer Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala) turns political

Michael Meyer’s (China) new book coming In October

  In 1995, at the age of twenty-three, Michael Meyer, after rejecting offers to go to seven other countries, was selected for the new China program and sent to a tiny town in Sichuan, China. Going there, he wrote Chinese words up and down his arms so he could hold conversations, and per a Communist dean’s orders, jumped into explaining to his students the Enlightenment, the stock market, and Beatles lyrics. Thus began his impassioned immersion into Chinese life. Michael has spent most of the last twenty years living and working on China’s urban and rural halves, learning to understand its people, culture, and conflicts as very few from the West ever have. His new book The Road to Sleeping Dragon chronicles the journey that he made to understand China. As he has done with his other books, Michael puts readers in his novice shoes, introducing them to a fascinating cast . . .

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Make Love Not War . . . Will Siegel (Ethiopia) writes Haight Ashbury novel

  Will Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64) went to San Francisco after his Peace Corps years and much of his new novel is set during the “summer of love” in Haight Ashbury. Peace Corps Writers will be publishing Will’s Last Journey Home — A Novel of the 1960s, next year. Here is a chapter from his forthcoming book. As Will describes it: This is a chapter about midway through my novel. Gil, the main character, returned from the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, is now in graduate school and after about a year and a half, (in the spring 1965) he brings his girlfriend, Suzanne, to meet his new hippie friends. He is trying to please them both, though he sometimes resents that the apartment, near the Haight Ashbury section of San Francisco was taken over by this hippie cohort of his roommate, Franco. There is another RPCV in the room, Busby, who has completely disavowed his Peace Corps . . .

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Novels nominated for Maria Thomas Fiction Award — 2016

  Novels published in 2016 THE MARIA THOMAS FICTION AWARD, first presented in 1990, is named after the novelist Maria Thomas [Roberta Worrick (Ethiopia 1971–73)] who was the author of the well-reviewed novel Antonia Saw the Oryx First, and two collections of short stories, Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage: And Other Stories and African Visas: A Novella and Stories, all set in Africa. Roberta lost her life in August 1989, while working in Ethiopia for a relief agency. She went down in the plane crash that also killed her husband, Thomas Worrick (Ethiopia 1971–73), and Congressman Mickey Leland of Texas These novels have been nominated for the 2016 Award. If you know of a book that you wish to nominated — published in 2016 — and written by an RPCV or Peace Corps Staff, please let me know: jcoyneone@gmail.com The nominees: The Girl in the Glyphs: A Novel David C. Edmonds (Chile 1963-65) A Peace . . .

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Taylor Dibbert (Guatemala) at HP – not Hewlett/Packard!

  Taylor Dibbert (Guatemala 2006–08) is a freelance writer and contributor to HuffPost (nee Huffington Post). He recently posted a quick piece on Trump, the Peace Corps and soft power. You can: read Taylor’s article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-doesnt-understand-american-soft-power_us_5934a189e4b0649fff211a96 access all his HP articles at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/taylor-dibbert   and follow him on Twitter @taylordibbert.

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Paul Theroux on New Yorker Radio Hour (Malawi)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Bill Preston (Thailand 1977-80) A short interview was this morning on New Yorker Radio Hour with Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) talking about his new book, including some insights into his family relations, how he became a writer, his love of travel (he doesn’t mention PC directly), his anonymity in Hawaii and abroad. In case you missed it: http://www.wnyc.org/story/paul-therouxs-darkest-travel-book-set-home

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Paul Theroux’s Peace Corps Prose (Malawi)

Paul Theroux’s novel, The Lower River is his most direct use of his Peace Corps experience. Paul’s first three novels: Waldo, Fong and the Indians, and Girls at Play all were East Africa based, but not about the Peace Corps. Girls at Play, set at a girls’ school in western Kenya, has a ‘Peace Corps character,’ and unhappy, Midwest woman. I believe this is the first use of a ‘Peace Corps character’ in a work of fiction. (Mary-Ann Tyrone Smith’s (Cameroon 1965-67) Lament for a Silver-Eyed Woman published in 1987, is the first novel about a Peace Corps Volunteers.) In his collection of nonfiction pieces, Sunrise with Seamonsters (1986), Paul republished a few of his essays that focused on the agency and Africa, and how he was kicked out of the Peace Corps. Theroux wrote a wonderful ‘peace corps’ short story “White Lies” first published in Playboy in 1979. I republished . . .

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Leita Kaldi Davis wins Lillian Carter Award (Senegal)

  Leita Kaldi Davis wrote — The Lillian Carter Award is given to Peace Corps Volunteers who enter service over the age of 50, in honor of President Jimmy Carter’s mother, Lillian, who went to India with Peace Corps in her sixties. It is also awarded to Returned PCVs who continue the third goal of Peace Corps, “bringing the world home to America.” So, I’m thrilled to tell you that I have won this award! We’ll be going to Atlanta to the Carter Center May 10 to receive the award from the hands of President Jimmy Carter. I’m so happy to share this news with you. Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) • Leita Kaldi Davis worked for the United Nations and UNESCO, for Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Harvard University. She worked with Roma (Gypsies) for fifteen years, became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal at . . .

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Poet John Robert “Jack” Mueller (India) dies in Grand Junction, Colorado

  Thanks for the ‘heads-up’ from Dan Campbell (El Salvador 1974-77) • John Robert “Jack” Mueller (PCV India), who taught poetry and sailing in New Orleans before gaining prominence among the post-Beat poets in the San Francisco Bay area, died of cancer Thursday in Grand Junction, Colorado. He was 74. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, renowned poet and co-founder of the landmark City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, said, “Jack Mueller is the biggest-hearted poet I have ever known.” Mueller published six collections of poems and two books of sketches, most notably “Amor Fati” (Lithic Press, 2013). A reviewer praised his approach to “almost exclusively cosmic questions — about mortality, love and our relationship to language.” He created art wherever he went, making sketches and short poems on bar napkins, coasters and index cards, according to his brother, Gordon “Nick” Mueller, president and CEO of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. . . .

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EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR THE BEST: a true 1960s love story (Ecuador)

  Thanks  to the ‘heads up’ from Dan Campbell (El Salvador 1974-77) • Author Philip R. Mitchell’s Everything Happens for the Best: A Cross-Cultural Romance During the Early Years of the Peace Corps is a 1960s Love Story. Recently published  Philip R. Mitchell (Ecuador 1964-66) Peace Corps memoir is the adventurous and romantic story of the author’s determination to service his country, his fateful encounter with the love of his life, and the lengths he would go to conquer the time and distance between them while he taught in Ecuador. Philip R. Mitchell’s tale details the courtship and passion of Phil and Beatriz, whose paths in life diverge for an agonizing two years before coming together once again.   • Everything Happens for the Best: A Cross-Cultural Romance During the Early Years of the Peace Corps Philip R. Mitchell (El Salvador 1964–66) Page Publishing, Inc. February 2017 $12.12 (paperback), $9.99 . . .

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Writer Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala) turns political

Contact: Mark Brazaitis Pronunciation: Braz-EYE-tis 304-276-8846 markbraz@yahoo.com www.markforwestvirginia.com   WVU English Professor Announces Candidacy for Morgantown City Council   February 6, 2017—Mark Brazaitis, a WVU English professor and the author of seven books, announced today he will run for a position on the Morgantown City Council from the sixth ward.   “We have a wonderful city,” Brazaitis said. “But we have challenges now and ahead, and we could be doing much better.”   Brazaitis is running on a campaign to protect and enhance Morgantown’s small- and medium-sized businesses, its parks, recreation areas, and green spaces, its roads and bridges, and its distinct neighborhoods, including downtown.   “We are a growing city, which presents obstacles as well as opportunities,” he said. “We must ensure that we grow in a smart, thoughtful way—a way that respects the health, safety, and prosperity of the people who live here, including families, as well as . . .

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