Archive - August 6, 2009

1
Theroux & Tarzan & Me, Part 6
2
Talking With Thomas Hollowell About Allah's Garden
3
Theroux's Love/Hate Relationship With The Peace Corps, Part 5

Theroux & Tarzan & Me, Part 6

I forgot about Theroux until late in 1967, in my last months as an APCD in Ethiopia. One day, in that wonderful crammed English and French Giannopoulos Bookstore at the top of Churchill Road, just off the piazza in Addis Ababa, I picked up a copy of Transition, the Ugandan literary magazine. In it was an essay, “Tarzan is an Expatriate,” written by Paul, who was identified as a lecturer in English at Makerere University in Kampala. There was no mention of the Peace Corps. In the essay, Theroux confessed that he spent his pre-adolescent years reading comic books inspired by the novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs. [Theroux would later tell Harris Wofford (PC Staff: D.C & Ethiopia 1962-66) – early architect of the Peace Corps and former Pennsylvania senator – that when he read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness he put his finger on the title page and said, . . .

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Talking With Thomas Hollowell About Allah's Garden

By John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) From a Google Alert I first read about Thomas Hollowell of Indiana and his new book  Allah’s Garden. It mentioned that Tom had been in Morocco as a PCV and his book was set in the Sahara Desert. Also it was published by a small-and new to me-Illinois press. Being from the farmlands myself, I was curious about Tom and I tracked down the press, and they helped me find, Thomas Hollowell, who is a hard man to find, busy as he is, and as you’ll see from this interview, trekking through the Sahara when he is not back in the U.S. However, by the magic of emails, I was able to interview Tom about his misadventures in the Peace Corps, and his adventures in the desert. First off, Tom, where are you from in the States? I’m from Gessie, Indiana, a quiet town of . . .

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Theroux's Love/Hate Relationship With The Peace Corps, Part 5

Like most RPCVs, Paul Theroux has a love/hate relationship with the Peace Corps. In the essay, “Reminiscence: Malawi,” which appeared in Making A Difference: The Peace Corps at Twenty-Fiveedited by Milton Viorst [NY: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1986], Theroux recalls, “I remembered all the official freeloaders who came out from Washington on so-called inspection tours, and how they tried to ingratiate themselves. ‘You’re doing wonderful work here. . . . It’s a great little country,’ they said; but for most of them it was merely an African safari. They hadn’t the slightest idea of what we were doing, and our revenge was to take them on long, bumpy rides through the bush.” A lot of his reaction to the agency goes back to being kicked out of the Peace Corps and left nearly penniless on the streets of Washington, as well as to those early staffers in Africa. Bob Poole was the . . .

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