Archive - August 2009

1
A Writer Writes: Holiday Obituary
2
RPCV Lipez's New Novel
3
Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules For Writing Fiction
4
The House On Churchill Road, Part 3
5
The House On Churchill Road, Part 2
6
Our House On Churchill Road, Part 1
7
To Die On Kilimanjaro, Part 5
8
New RPCV Peace Corps Director Begins Tour!
9
To Die On Kilimanjaro, Part 4
10
To Die On Kilimanjaro, Part 3

A Writer Writes: Holiday Obituary

Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) has self-published a number of travel books since returning from Honduras. The following piece is from a collection of stories that he will publish soon. In the preface, Larry writes, “Sometimes life offers delicious experiences when least expected. These stories were born in such circumstances a quarter of a century ago, shortly after returning home following five years south of the frontera. Studying art at a local junior college, I was fascinated by students who set up easels in art museums and tried to recreate masterpieces stroke for stroke. This led to my own experiment; to write my own stories while emulating the styles of my favorite authors. “Today it seems blasphemous to mention their names when referring to my efforts. However, it is worth mentioning that the exercise offered me an opportunity to be as crazy as I wanted to be. Heck, one of . . .

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RPCV Lipez's New Novel

Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) reviews a new novel by Dick Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) who writes under the pseudonym of Richard Stevenson. The book is entitled, The 38 Million Dollar Smile, and is published by MLR Press. It comes out in September. • If you are looking for a page-turner this Indian Summer, The 38 Million Dollar Smile could be the book. The latest mystery in the Don Strachey series, this book describes the search for a rich American who disappeared in Thailand with his portion of a family fortune ($38 million). Told in first person, filled with slang in the mystery novel format, the story offers the unexpected, as do the previous Don Strachey books. Don Strachey is a gay private detective. In this particular book, he is chosen to search for the missing American by his ex-wife because the missing man was also gay. She believes that the . . .

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Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules For Writing Fiction

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. 2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for. 3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water. 4. Every sentence must do one of two things-reveal character or advance the action. 5. Start as close to the end as possible. 6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of. 7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia. 8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should . . .

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The House On Churchill Road, Part 3

Before telling you what happens next, one more point is worth mentioning. We had trained that summer of  ’62 for two months at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Ethiopian students studying in graduate schools in the United States had been hired to teach us Amharic, a totally hopeless task as I recall, but outside of class we could talk to them and learn about the real Ethiopia, lessons we didn’t think we were learning in our area studies of the Empire. The Ethiopian language instructors painted an idealistic paradise of their homeland: of rural people living simple uncomplicated lives in quaint tukul hut villages; of an African nation that did not need the corruption of American know-how and progress, of Western values and ways. Several weeks into our Georgetown Training a wave of doubt swept across that summer campus: Why were we going to Ethiopia to teach English to these . . .

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The House On Churchill Road, Part 2

The sidewalks and streets were crowded with children rushing in their school uniforms to the French School. Luxury cars were pulling up to dispatch kids and teachers. There was a wide range of cars: Cadillacs, Lincolns, Mercedes-Benzes. They were being driven by parents of every nationality and the children spoke a mix of languages; Amharic and Italian, English, and, of course, French. At the corner of our compound wall was a busy intersection with a stop light controlling the heavy traffic, and this early morning, as I stepped out into the city sidewalk, I saw standing in the middle of the intersection a huge Rastafarinan looking Ethiopian wearing an wild assortment of rags and animal skins. It took me a few moments to realize that life was not “normal” on the street. Crowds of people had halted; they were banked together on the sidewalk watching the Rastafarian Ethiopian. He had brought . . .

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Our House On Churchill Road, Part 1

When I was in the Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia years ago, I lived in a square stone house on Churchill Road, a main artery in Addis Ababa, with four other PCVs. That house, like most in Addis, had a tin roof and it was pleasant to wake at six in the morning on school days during the long rainy season and hear the heavy, amplified rain on the roof. At times during the rainy season it was so loud that we were forced to shout at each other over the breakfast table just to be heard. The rainy season brought cold weather to this mountain capital city and in the evenings we would start a fire of eucalyptus wood in the living room fireplace to keep warm. And in the early mornings when we woke we would need to build a fire in the hot water heater for showers and to shave. . . .

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To Die On Kilimanjaro, Part 5

Phillip and Gina arrived in Malindi together but not as a couple. It was crowded in the hotel and rooms were scarce, but because of the connection made by the teacher in Arusha word had reached the Blue Marlin about Arthur and Kilimanjaro. Gina was given the honeymoon suite that was isolated from the other rooms, overlooked the Indian Ocean, and just yards from the water. Phillip was given a small room rented by hikers, and without hotel amenities, [though breakfast tea was left on his doorstep early each morning.] Gina and Phillip stayed in the Blue Marlin for five days. On the third night they made love for the first time. “It kept coming at us,” Phillip explained to me on the beach that winter of ’69, eleven years after he had first arrived in Malindi with Gina. “It was like an approaching storm,” he explained, in the dramatic . . .

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To Die On Kilimanjaro, Part 4

Africa has always been known for adventure and romance and when the two clash, as they always do, there are many broken lives and hardships and stories that linger long after the couples leave the continent and become the legends passed on from one generation to the next. When Arthur left for Kilimanjaro, Phillip did not begin an affair with Gina, he told me immediately. [Knowing that was what I was thinking.] They continued the intense friendship as Gina prepared to leave Africa on home leave once her husband returned. Phillip said that on days when he could see the crest of Kilimanjaro he would pause and wonder where Arthur might be on his long climb. [This was years before cell phones, or even the well organized climbs. It was years before an Italian, in 2001, reached the summit and descended in 8 hours and 30 minutes. In 2004, a . . .

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To Die On Kilimanjaro, Part 3

Around 750,000 years ago, give or take a few centuries, an apocalyptic explosion along one of East Africa’s many fault lines, vomited up lava and fire for thousands of years, giving birth to the first of Kilimanjaro’s three separate but closely aligned peaks. Shira, the mountain’s first volcanic cone, eventually collapsed. Mawenzi arose soon after, then went dormant. Forty thousand years later came the last and most famous cone, Kibo. Kibo holds the summit and its famed and imperiled snows. The first non-Africans to see Kilimanjaro were mostlikely Arabs who traveled the contient’s caravan route in the sixth century C.E. However, Ptolemy wrote of a ‘snow mountain’ around 100 C.E. The next known reference to Kilimanjaro came from an Arab geographer and Chinese writer who, at the turn of the 15th century, wrote of a ‘great mountain’ west of Zanzibar. In the early 16th century, a Portuguese geographer noted the . . .

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