Short Works by PC Writers

Short works by RPCVs that do not reference the Peace Corps experience.

1
Soutine and Dr. Maisler
2
Under Blossoming Boughs
3
Claim
4
Under the Elms

Soutine and Dr. Maisler

Stan Meisler writes about his story “Soutine and Dr. Maisler”: Hona Maisler, my father’s brother, was a Parisian doctor who was murdered in Auschwitz during World War II. Chaim Soutine, the painter, was a very distant relative, through marriage. He died in France during the war. Both lived in France from the turn of the century. I thought it would be interesting to imagine the two knowing each other in Paris during the 1930s when France was regarded as the most powerful country in the world. To do so, I used the device of a memoir, putting myself into Paris at that time as well. But I actually was a little child in the Bronx then and never met either of the two men. When I sent this around to a few literary magazines, I labeled it carefully as “a short story, not a memoir.” But I guess I wasn’t . . .

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Under Blossoming Boughs

John Givens writes about his story: Peace Corps for me was transformative. My wife Gail and I were in Pusan, Korea from 1967 to 1969. We later lived in Kyoto for a few years and separated there. A couple of years later, I was accepted by the Iowa Writers Workshop, as was Dick Wiley, another K-III RPCV, who also lived in Japan. After teaching in San Francisco and publishing three novels, I returned to live in Tokyo for eight years. I have never written directly about my Peace Corps experience (other than a couple of puerile workshop stories). My second novel, A Friend in the Police, is very loosely based on what it might feel like to be thrown in at the deep end of an unfamiliar culture although the narrative is so heavily distorted by use of an unconventional point of view that it would never be classified as . . .

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Claim

Lauri Anderson (Nigeria 1965–67) writes about his story: For many years I have lived in and written stories about a very impoverished part of America, Michigan’s Copper Country. I’ve written three collections of stories set in the very isolated backwoods community of Misery Bay. “Claim” is set there. The characters are fictional versions of real people from the Copper Country. Their desperate circumstances are, in many ways, not that different from the despairing situations that I found during my Peace Corps service in Nigeria just before and at the birth of Biafra. Claim by Lauri Anderson Am I angry? You’re damned right I am. I’ve watched my life slip toward oblivion on this useless farm at the dead end of a gravel road in the isolation of Misery Bay. Sometimes in summer, weeks go by without a single car or pickup daring our road’s potholes, creating a roiling cloud of . . .

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Under the Elms

Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963–65) writes about her story: Though not immediately obvious there is a link between my story, Under the Elms, and my reasons for joining the Peace Corps. Ever since I was born, a half-Jewish, white child in a Japanese American Internment camp, my life has been inextricably entwined with issues of race, class, ethnicity and religion in our country. My parents were highly educated with advance d degrees from major universities, but because my father was a community organizer and because, as a result, we were poor, I grew up in poor and working class neighborhoods. My friends were German American farm children in southeastern Ohio whose parents blamed “the Jews” for WWII, French Canadian children of factory workers in Winooski, Vermont who were looked down upon by the dominant New England population, and, as in this story, children of working class poor, and single-mother families in . . .

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