Archive - October 12, 2009

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Review: Moroccan RPCV Thomas Hollowell's Allah's Garden
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Review: Stories By Korean RPCV Clifford Garstang
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The Great Peace Corps Novel

Review: Moroccan RPCV Thomas Hollowell's Allah's Garden

Jack Allison served a 3-year tour with the Peace Corps in Malawi where he was a public health Volunteer in the bush. Here he reviews Thomas Howell’s book Allah’s Gardenon Morocco based on Hollowell’s brief tour as a PCV, and now his extended connection with the country. • Allah’s Garden by Thomas Hollowell (Morocco 2002) Tales Press March 2009 198  pages $14.95 Reviewed by Jack Allison (Malawi 1967–69) Thomas Hollowell’s novel is actually a multi-layered reportage of his fascination with Morocco which resulted in a very brief stint as a Volunteer with the US Peace Corps there in 2002, including an historical denouement of the war in the Western Sahara, and a focused account of the capture, torture, and epic struggle of a Moroccan physician, Azeddine Benmansour, who spent 24 years as a prisoner of the terrorist group, the Polisario.  Azeddine is one of the longest-held POWs ever. The novel . . .

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Review: Stories By Korean RPCV Clifford Garstang

Award winning writer and Guatemala RPCV Mark Brazaitis reviews In an Uncharted Country by Korea RPCV Clifford Garstang, published this September by Press 53. • In an Uncharted Country by Clifford Garstang (South Korea 1976–78) Press 53 August 2009 204 pages $14.00 Reviewed by Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1991–93) If Clifford Garstang’s stories were a city, they wouldn’t be a place you would have heard much about. But if you happened to settle there, you wouldn’t want to leave. In “White Swans,” one of the stories in his excellent debut collection, Garstang tackles the same subject matter that National Book Award-finalist Mary Gaitskill does in the title story to her third collection, Don’t Cry. In Gaitskill’s story, a woman, recently widowed, is helping a friend adopt a child from Ethiopia; in Garstang’s, a married couple is in China to adopt a daughter. In both stories, bureaucracy is only part of what . . .

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The Great Peace Corps Novel

I’m going to try and settle an argument–and create one!–by looking at the shelf of books we have from Peace Corps writers and come up with a list of the ‘best Peace Corps novels.’ I hope with my nomination to engage the community and have you all respond with your “best books.”  Later we’ll look at the non-fiction accounts by RPCVs and pick a list of those books. First, why list of  ‘great books’? Well, I guess it all started with John W. De Forest who introduced the notion of “the great American novel” in 1868 in Nation magazine. Novelist De Forest made the point that no American had produced a true painting of the American soul. What De Forest wanted was a book that “produced a true painting of the American soul, a picture of the ordinary emotions and manner of American existence.” So, what Peace Corps novel has “produced a true painting of . . .

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