Archive - April 2011

1
Change.org Joins First Response Action Efforts
2
Review of Kelly Clancy's Soldiers of God
3
Review — FROM THE SAN JOAQUIN by Barry Kitterman (Belize)
4
Review of Roland Merullo's (Micronesia 1979-80) A Russian Requiem
5
Andrew Clark’s unfinished memoir, Lost and Found in West Africa, 3
6
Andrew Clark's unfinished memoir, Lost and Found in West Africa, 1
7
Andrew Clark's unfinished memoir, Lost and Found in West Africa, 2
8
Andrew Clark's (Senegal 1978-80) Last Words on Senegal
9
Books by RPCVs and the Peace Corps Staff
10
Paul Theroux's Novels of Africa

Change.org Joins First Response Action Efforts

Change.org has taken an interest in First Response Action’s efforts to advocate for an improved response from Peace Corps for Volunteers. They launched a petition today advocating for  proposed legislation to cement changes to support Peace Corps Volunteers who are victimized. You can sign and share the petition here: http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-peace-corps-protect-volunteers-back-anti-sexual-violence-legislation. They already received 1,432 signatures in the last 24 hours! Members of First Response Action recently spoke with Peace Corps staff members and they shared their improvements within the organizaton. Those improvements to support Volunteers and victims of sexual and physical violence are listed here in a post they created to celebrate the steps Peace Corps has taken to improve training and response. There are many steps yet to be taken, accordding to First Response Action, but these initial improvements are a good sign. The post was also in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is April. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is tentatively scheduled . . .

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Review of Kelly Clancy's Soldiers of God

Soldiers of God (graphic novel) by Kelly Clancy (Turkmenistan 2004–06) Sixta Comics (www.thedivinebanquet.com) $15.00 256 pages 2010 Reviewed by Ian Kreisberg IF YOU ARE INTERESTED in reading a smart, challenging, visceral, slightly unnerving comic which compellingly and uniquely shares the converging story of two people in a style that is both familiar and foreign authored by someone who spent two years in Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan and paid for by the co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then may I suggest Soldiers of God by Kelly Clancy? Or, to expostulate, there is something about Soldiers of God that is flawlessly unsettling (not the same as unsettlingly flawless, the book has flaws) and embedded in the book’s DNA. There are patches of narration that unsettle because you don’t know who the speaker is, you only know that you believe in them and, when they combine with the spidery scrawl of the lettering, . . .

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Review — FROM THE SAN JOAQUIN by Barry Kitterman (Belize)

From the San Joaquin: Stories by Barry Kitterman (Belize 1976–78) Southern Methodist University Press $23.95 208 pages 2011 Reviewed by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963–65) IN ANTICIPATION OF WRITING THIS REVIEW I read Barry Kitterman’s award winning debut novel, The Baker’s Boy (The Maria Thomas Award for Fiction), which I admired greatly, but which didn’t prepare me for the muscular, thoroughly authentic voice of From the San Joaquin. From the San Joaquin has been compared to Winesburg, Ohio; it’s more a novel in form than a collection of short stories as well as a decidedly American story of small town life, but unlike Winesburg it never flirts with the grotesque, nor panders to notions of quaintness. Covering a forty year span, Kitterman subtly weaves the lives of half a dozen main characters and a dozen subsidiary ones into a complex, multileveled narrative. It’s set in Ivanhoe, California in Tulare County, the . . .

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Review of Roland Merullo's (Micronesia 1979-80) A Russian Requiem

A Russian Requiem Roland Merullo (Micronesia 1979–80) AJAR Contemporaries March 2011 461 pages Paperback $22 Reviewed by Tony D’Souza (Ivory Coast 2000–02; Madagascar 2002–03) ROLDAN MERULLO’S 1993 NOVEL, A Russian Requiem, has been re-released by AJAR Contemporaries. Coming new to the book, I can’t help but draw parallels between his take on the last days of the USSR and the contemporary changing of the guard we are fortunate to be witnessing in North Africa, bloody as it’s been. For those of us old enough — yes, there is already a generation too young to remember drunk Boris Yeltsin waving the Russian flag from the hood of a tank in Red Square — the lightning quick obliteration of the Iron Curtain seemed, to me, at least — having practiced hiding under my school desk in Chicago through the ’80s as the nuns conducted our nuclear attack drills — something so monumental . . .

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Andrew Clark’s unfinished memoir, Lost and Found in West Africa, 3

This essay (# 3) is the last from Andrew Clark’s (Senegal 1978-80) unfinished memoir Lost and Found in West Africa. While there is much more in this manuscript, it would be up to the family (Michiko Clark especially) to publish it as a book. But for now, thank you, Michiko, for sharing these short pieces with us.] Birth After I had been in Bidiancoto about a month, a very special event occurred. I knew that Ruby Diallo, Mamadou Boye Sow’s only wife, was expecting their second child. No one ever talked directly about pregnancy, fearing bad luck and “evil spirits.” Nevertheless, it was obvious Ruby was expecting, and very soon. One of my friends remarked that Ruby’s stomach “wasn’t just full of millet and leaf sauce.” That was as close as anyone came to saying that Ruby was expecting. I spent a lot of time in the compound with Ruby, and in many . . .

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Andrew Clark's unfinished memoir, Lost and Found in West Africa, 1

[This essay (# 1) is from Andrew Clark’s (Senegal 1978-80) unfinished memoir Lost and Found in West Africa. His niece, Michiko Clark, was kind enough to send me the manuscript that the family found after Andrew’s death earlier this year.  This is one of three short sections that I culled from the book.  These pieces show how well Andrew understood Senegal, and it gives us all a feeling of how much he loved his host country. In the old days we would have called  him a Super Vol.] Arrival Perhaps the greatest gift that Senegal and Africa gave me was the ability, on a mere moment’s notice, to plunge right back into that world, see once again the faces, recall snatches of conversations, hear voices and laughter and cries, and relive experiences as if they had only just happened minutes before. Even in the dead of a bitter Midwestern winter, I could close my eyes . . .

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Andrew Clark's unfinished memoir, Lost and Found in West Africa, 2

[This essay is from Andrew Clark’s (Senegal 1978-80) unfinished memoir Lost and Found in West Africa. His niece, Michiko Clark, was kind enough to sent me the manuscript that the family found after Andrew’s death earlier this year.  This is one of three short sections that I culled from the book.  These pieces show how well Andrew understood Senegal, and it gives us all a feeling of how much he loved his host country. In the old days we would have called  him a Super Vol.] Assimilation, Acclimation, and Accommodation In the early days, one of the main problems with the language was figuring out the different tenses without a common language. After some perplexing experiences, I realized that Mamadou didn’t clearly understand tenses in French because he had never learned them. I was, therefore, on my own when it came to deciphering past, present, and future in Pulaar. As long as I had those . . .

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Andrew Clark's (Senegal 1978-80) Last Words on Senegal

Michiko Clark wrote me recently. She works for Pantheon, the book publisher, and she helped to promote a Peace Corps book awhile back, but she was writing now about her family, especially about her uncle Andrew Clark, who recently passed away. In her email, she wrote:   “I come from a family of Peace Corps Volunteers. My father was in Nigeria and Uganda, 1966-68. Then his two brothers, Andrew (Senegal, 1978-80) and Peter (Paraguay, 1988-90) joined. The next wave includes a cousin in Mauritania (2000-02) and my sister in the Dominican Republic (2003-2005). “But it was my uncle Andrew who never really ended his Peace Corps experience. After his service in Senegal, he went on to get his doctorate in African History and became a professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, spreading his knowledge and stories of Senegal and West Africa with his students, and encouraging many of them to join the Peace . . .

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Books by RPCVs and the Peace Corps Staff

Marian Haley Beil (Ethiopia 1962–64) has done us a great service by pulling together our Peace Corps books! These are books written by RPCVs and the Staff about the Peace Corps experience and the agency over the last fifty years. Take a look. There are 223 books that are only the books written by Peace Corps Volunteers about their Peace Corps experience. There is also a list of books on the agency. And another list by members of the Peace Corps family. Marian has done these lists in preparation for the Library of Congress Luncheon next September in Washington, D.C., the first events of the 50th Anniversary. The lists will then be linked to the Library of Congress website. Take a look at: Bibliography of the Peace Corps Experience Peace Corps History The Peace Corps Experience – staff and family

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Paul Theroux's Novels of Africa

My recent blog on novels that featured ‘Peace Corps fictional characters’ has generated some interest in novels written by RPCVs with Peace Corps characters. And that, naturally, leads us to Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65). Theroux’s first three novels were set in Africa: Fong and the Indians (1968); Girls at Play (1969); Jungle Lovers (1971). Years later the books were combined into a single edition from Penguin (1996) and published as On The Edge of the Great Rift: Three Novels of Africa. In the Preface to this volume, Theroux writes: “At the age of twenty-two, hoping to avoid being drafted into the US army, but also wishing to see the world, I joined the Peace Corps. When I went to Malawi in 1963 it was called the Nyasaland Protectorate.” After the Peace Corps and his ‘dismissal,” which he has written about elsewhere, he went to Uganda and signed a four-year contract to teach at Makerere . . .

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