Archive - June 2011

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RPCV Book on Ann Beattie's Book Shelf
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Talking with Marty Ganzglass
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A plethora of public places for Peace Corps papers, publications, people and stuff: Sorting it all out.
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Talking with Christopher Howard (Mongolia 1997) author of Tea of Ulaanbaatar
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New Legislation to Support PCVs: The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Safety and Security Act
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Review of Ruth Jacobson's memoir of Liberia
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Review of James P. Gray’s A Voter’s Handbook
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Gatsby Lives!
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Christina Shea (Hungary1990-92) Publishes Second Novel
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May 2011 Peace Corps Books

RPCV Book on Ann Beattie's Book Shelf

Reading the current issue of The New York Review of Books I spotted a long piece by Meghan O’Rourke on the new collection The New Yorker Stories by Ann Beattie. There was a photo of Ann in front of a shelf of books taken by Dominique Nabokov and it is clearly (by its disorganized self) a home book shelf. Scanning it closely to see what she might be reading, I spotted Peter Hessler’s (China 1996-98) latest book, Country Driving.  It is on a shelf of random books, with only a few title readable, Green Metropolis by  David Owen; Hatred of Capitalism by Chris Kraus and Sylvere Lotringer; and Michael Lewis’ The Big Short. There might have been other RPCV writers on Ann’s shelf, but lookikng closely, I couldn’t find any of my books. Oh, well!

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Talking with Marty Ganzglass

Marty Ganzglass’s (Somalia 1966-68) first novel, The Orange Tree, is the fifth book published by our imprint, Peace Corps Writers. It is a story of the unlikely friendship between an elderly Jewish lady and a young Somali nurse who cares for her. Recently Marty and I exchanged questions and answers about his writing and his long association with Somalia. • Marty, where did you serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer? I went to Somalia, along with my wife Evelyn, from 1966 to 1968. I was a lawyer and worked as legal advisor to the Somali National Police Force, replacing a Ford Foundation lawyer, who coincidentally, went on to become Police Commissioner of New York City (Robert J. McGuire). My assignment was quite unusual for a PCV. You have been connected with Somali for years, in what role? My post Peace Corps service connections with Somalia run deep. When we moved to . . .

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A plethora of public places for Peace Corps papers, publications, people and stuff: Sorting it all out.

    The Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, The National Archives and the JFK Presidential Library, as well as the Peace Corps Agency are all involved in preserving and presenting elements of the Peace Corps Experience. For anyone coming to DC for any of the celebrations or just curious, here is how it all sorts out. The Smithsonian and the Library of Congress are located in downtown Washington DC.  The National Archives stores Peace Corps records at its facility in College Park, Md.  The JFK Library is in Boston, MA.    All others institutions have information available online; but few actual pictures and papers have been digitalized. This means that to access the actual material one has to physically visit the facility or pay for copies. First, the Smithsonian has three different divisions involved with Peace Corps. The first and perhaps the most currently relevant is the Smithsonian Folklife Festival that . . .

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Talking with Christopher Howard (Mongolia 1997) author of Tea of Ulaanbaatar

In the mail, I received a message that began: As the minutes passed, the recycled air in the fuselage became like old breath. The planeload of Americans shot nervous looks at each other. Pinpricks of sweat forming on skin, cool but quickly warming. Charlotte joked that they had been abandoned, left to suffocate on the tarmac as a message to all foreigners. They crowded around the windows to look at their new home. The skyline was made of Soviet-built apartment compounds, sooty smokestacks. They saw a man from the ground crew idling on the tarmac. The man looked up, saw their faces pressed against the portholes. They slapped the glass and called to him. He smiled, revealing rotten teeth, but made no move to assist. The temperature soared. So begins National Magazine Award finalist Christopher Howard’s second novel, Tea of Ulaanbaatar: the story of disaffected Peace Corps Volunteer Warren, who . . .

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New Legislation to Support PCVs: The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Safety and Security Act

First Response Action is reporting that today, Thursday June 23rd at 2:15 p.m. EST, Congressman Poe and Senator Isakson will introduce legislation to support Volunteers who report or experience crime.  The legislation, The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Safety and Security Act, is the product of both Congressman Poe and Senator Isakson working closely with the Peace Corps, First Response Action and Kate’s Voice.  The Peace Corps has expressed “verbal support” for the bill and a press release is anticipated following the press conference on Thursday. You can find more information at the First Response Action blog, as well as,  information on the legislation: http://firstresponseaction.blogspot.com/2011/06/legislation-to-be-introduced-kate-puzey.html First Response Action Coalition www.firstresponseaction.org

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Review of Ruth Jacobson's memoir of Liberia

You Never Try, You Never Know: Six Year in Liberia by Ruth Jacobson (Liberia 1971-77) Court Street Press $18.95, paperback; $6.95 e-book 402 pages 2011 Reviewed by Geraldine Kennedy (Liberia 1962–64) RUTH JACOBSON AND HER HUSBAND HAROLD were in their 50s when they joined the Peace Corps in 1971. By then they were well experienced in their professions — she a nurse, he a mechanic. Their two daughters were grown. They were just the kind of people both the Peace Corps and host countries needed and valued. Well, it seems one of them was more valued than the other — we’ll get to that. You Never Try, You Never Know is a collection of letters Ruth wrote to family members, primarily to her mother, about the Jacobson’s six years in Liberia. It is a one-way correspondence to people she loved about a life she embraced. During their orientation and training . . .

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Review of James P. Gray’s A Voter’s Handbook

A Voter’s Handbook: Effective Solutions to America’s Problems by James P. Gray (Costa Rica 1966–68) The Forum Press 200 pages $17.95 2010 Reviewed by Ken Hill (Turkey 1965-67)   A VOTER’S HANDBOOK poses solutions for a myriad of public policy issues based on the assertion that government is the central problem which can be fixed by reducing government’s span and resources. Shrink government; grow entrepreneurship; expand “choice” and go back to “American Fundamentals,” says Mr. Gray. In the process, thankfully, he poses some practical approaches to a few of today’s most vexing issues; illegal immigration, for example, and treating the mentally ill who are not institutionalized.   A lawyer and judge, Mr. Gray has spent his life in the law, wandering occasionally into politics. A Republican candidate for Congress in 1998, he later ran as a Libertarian candidate in the 2004 California Senatorial race. In 2009, Mr. Gray retired after 25 years as . . .

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Gatsby Lives!

Gatsby Lives! You might have seen the piece written by Sara Rimer in the New York Times about high school students (mostly smart immigrant kids going to schools like Boston Latin) who are reading The Great Gatsby and connecting with Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel and the famous image at the end of the book where F. Scott writes about the “green light” that lured the Dutch settler to the new land. What struck me was not so much their interpretation of the famous ending of the book, but that Fitzgerald was even being read by this generation of first- and second-generation immigrants in America. As the TIMES article points out Gatsby, the novel, “had fallen into near obscurity” by the time Fitzgerald died in 1940. It came back into vogue in the 1950s and 1960s when a trade paperback version was reissued. But also because of the biography of Zelda Fitzgerald written . . .

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Christina Shea (Hungary1990-92) Publishes Second Novel

“I had just finished my MFA,” Christina wrote me recently. “I didn’t have a job. I was twenty-six years old, between boyfriends, and had no burning ideas for a novel. I was too old to live in my parents’ house, or so it seemed to me at the time. When I flash back, I realize I was quite conflicted about being a writer, despite what my heart had always told me. Perhaps because I was born in the JFK era, joining the Peace Corps seemed a perfect opportunity suddenly, no longer just a pipe dream. Just in making the decision to join, I felt a sense of urgency that was new to me.” Christina would go to Eastern Europe as a PCV, to Szeged, Hungary, a city close to the Romaian border. She writes that her experience over two years and subsequent years working in the region was an amazing education. . . .

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May 2011 Peace Corps Books

Maobadi (Photographs) by Kevin Bubriski (Nepal 1975–79) Himal Books $55.00 96 pages 2011 • The Orange Tree (Novel) by Martin R. Ganzglass (Somalia 1966–68) Peace Corps Writers $14.95 421 pages May 2011 • Rogue Elephants (Peace Corps novel) by Dan Grossman (Niger 1992–94) Lulu $22.98 299 pages 2010 • Soft Corps (Peace Corps poems) by Dan Grossman (Niger 1992–94) Lulu $11.95 71 pages 2010 • Feather: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle by Thor Hanson (Uganda 1993–95) Basic Books $25.99 338 pages 2011 • Years On: And Other Travel Essays by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975–77) iUniverse $18.95 211 pages 2011 • Soda Springs: Love, Sex and Civil Rights by Terry Marshall (Philippines 1965-68) Friesen Press Hardback $28.99; Paper $19.13; Kindle, $7.79 363 pages 2010 • Souled Out: A Memoir of War and Inner Peace by Michael S. Orban (Gabon 1976–78) Minute Man Press $17.00 200 pages February 2011 • . . .

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