Archive - October 2011

1
The Peace Corps Doctor in Ouagadougou
2
Letters from Moritz Thomsen: Peace Corps Legend
3
Great Washington Post Review of Dick Lipez's new mystery novel
4
Useful Web Sites for Writers
5
Review — A VILLAGE SON REMEMBERS by Mark Lewis (The Gambia 1970-72)
6
A Writer Writes: Happy Birthday, Nigeria
7
Tony D'Souza talks to screenwriter and filmmaker Alrick Brown
8
Gallaudet University Museum puts a Deaf Slant on the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary
9
NYTIMES Article on Amazon's Authors
10
Review of Jim McConkey's To The Far Side of Planet Earth

The Peace Corps Doctor in Ouagadougou

Back in 2001 Peace Corps Doctor Milt Kogan, who served in the Republic of Upper Volta from June 1970 to June 1972, sent me a copy of his 169 page, double spaced, typed diary that he kept in-country in those early days of the Seventies. Dr. Kogan was the Peace Corps Physician in care of 70 PCVs in the nation now known as Burkina Faso. The nation was renamed by President Thomas Sankara in 1984 to mean “the land of the upright people” in Mossi and Dioula, the major languages of the country. Dr. Kogan went to Africa during those early days of the agency when the Peace Corps, through Public Health, sent MDs overseas to care for Volunteers. He arrived in Upper Volta with his wife, Dena, and two babies: Teidi, one month old; and Magavin, two-and-a-half. In the first entry of his diary, he writes, “I’m not sure . . .

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Letters from Moritz Thomsen: Peace Corps Legend

Years ago Chris Davis graduated from the University of Virginia and went to Kenya (1975–78) as a PCV. He served a year in Maasailand, another year in Kikuyuland and also volunteered with the Flying Doctors, did some field research with a primatologist in Amboseli, and had time to play rock guitar in the pit of the Kenya National Theatre. Coming home, Chris got a job as a speechwriter for the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. And while he was at the NEA, he met Peace Corps writer Moritz Thomsen, and that is what is really important to know. After meeting Moritz, Chris went onto work as a staff writer at U.S. News & World Report covering science and medicine as he had minor in pre-med at UVA. Moving back to New York he worked as a news writer at NBC at 30 Rock and then went to work . . .

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Great Washington Post Review of Dick Lipez's new mystery novel

[Review of new mystery by Dick Lipez (writing as Richard Stevenson)(Ethiopia 1962-64), the novel Red White Black and Blue by  Gerald Bartell in The Washington Post published on  October 18, 2011.] Bruises afflict nearly everyone and everything in Richard Stevenson’s 12th Donald Strachey mystery,  Red White Black and Blue.  Hired thugs pummel Strachey, a gay Albany PI, as he tries to get the dirt on Kenyon Louderbush, a candidate for governor of New York running in the Democratic primary. Louderbush, a married, closeted gay man, beat up a boyfriend who later committed suicide. The boyfriend, it turns out, had been physically abused by his stepfather. And the political system the PI butts up against in this entertaining mystery is so battered that it’s down for the count. At the outset, Strachey’s assignment seems simple. But as often happens in satisfying mysteries such as this one, the case becomes delectably complex. The . . .

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Useful Web Sites for Writers

The recent issue of the Authors Guild Bulletin has some useful information for all writers. You might want to check out Book Country. It is a website created for writers of genre fiction. Writers can post their own work on the site–an opening chapter or a full manuscript–and get critical comments from other users. To discourse plagiarism, the copy-paste and print mechanisms on the site have been disabled. A project of Penguin Group USA, the company plans to generate income by letting users self-publish their books by paying for printed copies. The books will carry the stamp of Book County. Penguin hopes the site will attract agents, editors and publishers scouting for new talent. Other sites for writers include Ravelry, a site for knitters and crocheters that has more than 1.3 million registered users, Writers Cafe, Protagonize and Mibba. Molly Barton is in change of the site. Bloom said Book . . .

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Review — A VILLAGE SON REMEMBERS by Mark Lewis (The Gambia 1970-72)

A Village Son Remembers Mark R. Lewis (The Gambia 1970–72) Self published 104 pages 2010 Reviewed by David H. Day (Kenya 1965–66; India 1967–68) I HADN’T GIVEN IT MUCH THOUGHT AT FIRST, but the torn and singed pages of what appears to be a personal journal on the cover of this slim paperback provides a clue to just one of the traumatic incidents punctuating Mark Lewis’ Peace Corps assignment in The Gambia. This reviewer was  soon led through a series of incidents that, on one hand, for their sheer shock value, astounded, and prompted me to recall one of our great Peace Corps mantras in coping with the vagaries of life in exotic places: flexibility. And is Lewis ever flexible! His equanimity in the face of the unexpected is exemplary. Even before the group departs the States, there was a snafu and Lewis was visited during training by two FBI . . .

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A Writer Writes: Happy Birthday, Nigeria

Happy Birthday, Nigeria by Bob Criso (Nigeria 1966–67; Somalia 1967–68) THE FLOATS ROLL DOWN SECOND AVENUE from 54th to 44th Street on a dazzling fall Saturday afternoon in New York City. Women draped in a kaleidoscope of African prints and men in ceremonial robes fit for kings are dancing and waving the green and white stripes of the Nigerian flag, their smiles as wide as the Atlantic. The infectious rhythms of West African hip-hop blast from gigantic speakers on the back of the trucks igniting the crowd on the sidewalks to dance along. A flock of supporters surround each float like buzzing bees, dancing, spinning, unable to contain their enthusiasm. Miss Nigeria, resplendent in a regal white gown and sparkling tiara, passes in a chauffeured shiny red convertible, surrounded by a court of attendants in flowing white dresses, like bridesmaids in a royal wedding. On the sidewalks the crowds are . . .

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Tony D'Souza talks to screenwriter and filmmaker Alrick Brown

ALRICK BROWN HAS WRITTEN, produced, and directed narrative films and documentaries that deal with such topics as race, genocide, justice, and social issues “affecting the world at large.” An RPCV who served in Cote d’Ivoire from 2000 to 2002, Brown was an Education Volunteer in a western region of the country that went on to suffer much violence during the Ivorian Civil War. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey, Brown earned BA and MA degrees from Rutgers before joining the Peace Corps. He later attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he earned an MFA in film. Brown’s work has been screened in over forty national and international film festivals, winning numerous awards. Along with his co-producer, he received the HBO Life Through Your Lens Emerging Filmmaker Award for their critically acclaimed documentary Death of Two Sons. In 2004, he was one of four NYU . . .

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Gallaudet University Museum puts a Deaf Slant on the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary

A FEW MONTHS AGO, no one knew that a simple exhibition planned by Gallaudet University in Washington D.C.  to mark the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps and share the fact that deaf people have served as Peace Corps Volunteers would expand into a far more complex story. Norma Morán (Kenya 2000–03), senior adviser to the project explains: “We started out trying to reach as many deaf and hard of hearing people as possible who have served in the Peace Corps. We hoped that five or ten would respond with photos or objects, and never dreamed that a new archival collection of over 450 photographs would be built within a few months.” Morán is one of 59 known deaf Volunteers who have served with the Peace Corps since its founding. From that group, 36 Volunteers contributed photos, objects and stories. As the exhibition expanded, Gallaudet’s University Museum quickly moved it to . . .

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NYTIMES Article on Amazon's Authors

There is a front page story today (Monday, October 17, 2011) in The New York Times on the future of publishing. If you write you must read: “Amazon Signing Up Authors, Writing Publishers Out of Deal” The article goes onto say: “the landscape (publishing) is changing for the first time since Gutenberg invented the modern book nearly 600 years ago.” What has made the publishing world change ‘dramatically’ is the new Kindle Fire. Amazon can develop, promote and deliver their product, i.e. your book! Who needs a publisher acting as gate-keeper? In the article there are several great stories of what has happened to writers who walk away from traditional publishing and venture into the self-publishing and eBook world of the publishing future. Take a look.

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Review of Jim McConkey's To The Far Side of Planet Earth

To The Far Side of Planet Earth: A Peace Corps Memoir by Jim McConkey (India 1967-69) Infinity Publishing $17.95 (paperback) 342 pages August 2011 Reviewed by Reilly Ridgell (Micronesia 1971–73) AS MOST WRITERS KNOW there is nothing more important than the firsts: the first chapter, the first page, the first paragraph, the first sentence, and sometimes even the first word. These are so important because they either catch the reader’s attention, hooking him or her so they’ll want to read on, or else turn the reader off, and they don’t buy and read the book. Jim McConkey learned that lesson well, and his first chapter is a clinic on how to capture a reader’s interest while setting up the rest of the book as well. What McConkey has created here is sort of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance meets Paul Theroux. Like a good travel writer, McConkey takes . . .

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