Archive - 2011

1
Bonnie Black Wins Gourmand International Awards
2
Review of Larry Brown's Peasants Come Last
3
Merry Christmas from the United Arab Emirates
4
In some ways, she is the most famous RPCV of us all
5
Hessler Writes About Egypt in current New Yorker
6
Volunteers — The Movie. The Subplots. The RPCV.
7
Review of Tyler McMahon's (El Salvador 1999-02) How The Mistakes Were Made
8
Robert Textor Remembers Writing the In-Up-and-Out Memo
9
How to Sell your e-book
10
Review of Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews

Bonnie Black Wins Gourmand International Awards

Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon 1996-98) author of How to Cook a Crocodile: A Memoir with Recipes– the first book published by the Peace Corps Writers Book imprint!– who is also a blogger on this site at: Cooking Crocodiles & Other Food Musings has just received three prestigious awards from Gourmand International. Her book’s awards were in the categories of Food Literature, African Cuisine (Gabon), and Charity and Community (North America). The 16-year-old organization Gourmand International, headquartered in Madrid, Spain, publishes GOURMAND magazine and sponsors the Gourmand World Cookbooks Awards, held in a different world capital each year. The 2011 awards will be presented on March 6, 2012, at the Folies Bergère in Paris, kicking off the weeklong Paris Cookbook Fair. Black plans to attend the awards ceremony and book fair in Paris. Among the organization’s stated objectives are “to reward and honor those who cook with words,” and “to increase knowledge of, and respect for, food . . .

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Review of Larry Brown's Peasants Come Last

Peasants Come Last: A Memoir of the Peace Corps at Fifty by J. Larry Brown (India late 1960s) Lucita Publisher $12.99 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle) 174 pages September 2011 Reviewed by  Ken Hill (Turkey 1965–67) A DENSELY POPULATED, complex and important African country, Uganda suffers from a history of violence reflected in names like Idi Amin, Milton Obote and the Lord’s Resistance Army.  Peace Corps has entered Uganda three times and left twice since the ’60s.  Currently, some 175 PCVs serve in Uganda supported by a staff of 30+. Dr. J. Larry Brown became the Uganda Country Director in late 2008.  Peasants Come Last is a punchy and compelling narrative of his latest Peace Corps experience, providing a chilling perspective of the significant challenges faced by Peace Corps in such a post. The book applauds and honors Peace Corps Volunteers and staff in Uganda, explaining the worrisome dangers that must be . . .

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Merry Christmas from the United Arab Emirates

[In our series of blogs from RPCVs around the world, we have this update from the United Arab Emirates and Darcy Munson Meijer (Gabon 1982-84) who lives now with her family in Abu Dhabi and teaches English at Zayed University. She recently published  Adventures in Gabon: Peace Corps Stories from the African Rainforest,  a collection of the best stories submitted by Gabon RPCVs to the quarterly “Gabon Letter.” We asked Darcy how the world looked from her side of the world this Holiday Season.] • IT’S WINTER NOW, so the weather is ideal: clear, sunny and in the mid-60s to 70s Fahrenheit. We are on winter break at Zayed University where I teach and at my children’s schools, and my family and I will spend 2 of the 3 weeks in Greece! We’ll divide our time between Athens and Crete. The abiity to travel in the region is one of the nicest parts of living in . . .

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In some ways, she is the most famous RPCV of us all

The Death Notice Reads: Heffron, Margery M.  73, of Exeter, N.H. on Friday, Dec. 9 of cancer. Until her death, she was at work on a biography of Louisa Catherine Adams, wife of the sixth U.S. president. She was a graduate of Smith College and earned a master of arts degree from Columbia University. She was press secretary to Rep. Edward J. Markey, 1979-80; associate director for media relations at the Harvard University News Office, 1981-89; and associate vice president for university relations at Binghamton University (SUNY), 1989-95. A native of Foxboro and a longtime resident of Westwood, she is survived by her husband of 49 years, Frank H. Heffron; daughter Anne Heffron (Chris) Sigler of Palo Alto, Calif.; sons John Heffron of Providence, R.I., and Samuel (Ashley) Heffron of Kittery Point, Me.; three grandchildren: Keats Iwanaga of Los Gatos and Palo Alto, Calif.; and William and Phineas Heffron of Kittery . . .

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Hessler Writes About Egypt in current New Yorker

The New Yorker in the December 19 & 26, 2011 issue has a long insightful piece by Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) entitled “The Mosque on the Square” Two weeks inside the Egyptian revolution. You can find it on page 46. As many of us know, Peter, his wife, and their toddler twins, are living now in Cairo where Peter is reporting on that nation’s Arab Spring for The New Yorker and for all of us. In November of this year, Peter sent us a quick report from Egypt; it was shortly after his family arrived in-country. Once again, our website www.peacecorpsworldwide.org is ahead of the Times, on top of the News, and before the New Yorker when it comes to keeping track of RPCV writers! Here’s what Peter had to say a month ago. (But you may also want to read his longer piece in the current issue of the . . .

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Volunteers — The Movie. The Subplots. The RPCV.

In James Jouppi’s (Thailand 1971–73) long, rambling and detailed memoir — Wars of Hearts And Minds — about his time in-country in Thailand and readjusting to the U.S. — there are a seven pages, 565 to 572, that focus on the cult (to some people) movie, Volunteers released in 1985. For those who missed Volunteers this is briefly the plot: Lawrence Bourne III, played by young Tom Hanks, is a spoiled rich kid in the 1960 with a large gambling debt. After his father, Lawrence Bourne Jr. (George Plimpton), refuses to pay his son’s debt, Lawrence escapes his angry debtors by trading places with his college roommate Kent (Xander Berkeley) and jumps on a Peace Corps flight to Southeast Asia. In the Peace Corps Lawrence is assigned to build a bridge for the local villagers, working with two other PCVs: Washington State University graduate Tom Tuttle (John Candy) and the beautiful, down-to earth . . .

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Review of Tyler McMahon's (El Salvador 1999-02) How The Mistakes Were Made

How The Mistakes Were Made Tyler McMahon (El Salvador 1999-02) St. Martin’s Press 342 pages $14.99 (paperback), $26.99 (hardcover), $9.99 (Kindle) October 2011 Reviewed by Tony D’Souza (Ivory Coast 2000-02, Madagascar 2002-03) TYLER MCMAHON HAS TAPPED the history of underground rock music and its most tragic players to craft a moving tale of art, fame, passion, love, and the blind drive to leave a legacy no matter the cost to the artist during his or her lifetime. Centering on the rise of the fictional “The Mistakes,” a two-man, one-woman grunge band at the forefront of the early ’90’s Pacific Northwest music revolution, How The Mistakes Were Made‘s double entendre title perfectly describes what the novel is about: the rise of the band from obscurity to worldwide fame, but also the literal mistakes made by the band members as they explore love with one another. Ultimately, the life-mistakes they make as . . .

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Robert Textor Remembers Writing the In-Up-and-Out Memo

Fifty Years Ago Today, Sunday, December 11, 2011 Today I find myself reminiscing about this day fifty years ago, when I was serving as the first full-time cultural anthropologist in Peace Corps/ Washington.  I had begun my consulting role the previous June, at the request of various officials of the then-fledgling organization.  Since I was a Thailand specialist, my original assignment was to help plan the training program for Thailand One.  Pretty soon, however, “mission creep” set in, and I was working on other assignments as well — notably for the Talent Search, to find linguistically, culturally, and otherwise qualified people to serve overseas as ” Peace Corps Representatives,” or “Reps.” By December, 1961, after six months of the most frenetic work imaginable, it had become clear to me that I ought to plan to leave soon, and return to academic life.  (I had a nice grant waiting to be . . .

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How to Sell your e-book

In The Wall Street Journal (Friday, December 8, 2011) I read an article about Darcie Chan, a full-time lawyer who drafts environmental legislation during the day and at night, after she has put her toddler son to bed, writes novels. Finishing her first novel, and after dozens of publishers and more than 100 literary agents rejected, she had a decision to make: quit writing or get published someway. Not giving up, and reading about e-book publishing, she decided to publish the book herself and went ahead and bought some ads on Web sites that target e-book readers, paid for a few reviews, and priced the book at .99 cents. She has (so far) sold more than 400,000 copies. What gives? According to the Association of American Publishers digital self-publishing has serious drawbacks. While e-books are the fastest-growing segment of the book market, they still make up less than 10% of overall trade book . . .

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Review of Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews

Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews (Swaziland 1968-70) Simon & Schuster 496 pages $27.50 (hardback); $26.39 (audio cd) November 2011 Reviewed by Don Schlenger (Ethiopia 1966-68) I WAS A SENIOR in a suburban,New Jersey high school when John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960. Staunchly Presbyterian and Republican like my parents and many of my classmates, I was sure that the White House would soon become Vatican West. Six years later, my wife, Jackie, and I were on a charter flight to Addis Ababa to begin our two year service as Peace Corps Volunteers in Ethiopia.  As I made my way through Chris Matthews’ new book, Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero, I was able, after almost five decades, to formulate answers to Matthews’ questions, ‘What was he like?” and “How did he do it?”  I’m not sure why, after five decades, these questions were important to me,  but I do know, . . .

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