Archive - February 2012

1
Review of David Mather's One for the Road
2
Roland Merullo (Micronesia 1979-80)Wins Alex Award
3
Frances Stone's new book Through the Eyes of My Children
4
Review of Letters From Moritz Thomsen by Christopher West Davis (Kenya 1975-78)
5
P.F. Kluge (Micronesia 1967-69) and Josh Radnor Together Again at Kenyon College
6
Still more on the Peace Corps Book Locker!
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Maureen Orth (Colombia 1965-67) on Morning Joe
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Review of Coming Apart by Charles Murray (Thailand 1965-67)
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Link to the Today Show and Maureen Orth's appearance
10
Mark Brazaitis Wins 2012 Richard Sullivan Prize

Review of David Mather's One for the Road

One for the Road David Mather (Chile 1968–70) Peace Corps Writers 400 pages $14.95 (paperback) 2011 Reviewed by Reilly Ridgell (Micronesia 1971–73) THERE ARE SOME 32 PEACE CORPS NOVELS listed in the Peace Corps Worldwide bibliography. I’ve now read four and written one. From that small sample, I’m beginning to detect some patterns that may hinder us Peace Corps novelists from achieving the success we dream of.  Generally speaking, the Peace Corps novels that I’ve read tend to be long on setting and short on plot. In fact, and I was guilty of this, the plot tends to be a vehicle with which to provide the reader with all kinds of information about the Peace Corps experience. Sometimes we end up with novels that read like memoirs. We are just so affected by our time in Peace Corps and how different life can be somewhere other than a US suburb that . . .

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Roland Merullo (Micronesia 1979-80)Wins Alex Award

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is a national association of librarians, library workers and advocates library services for teens. Each year they give out an Alex Awards for ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults. The winning titles are selected from the previous year’s publishing. The Alex Awards were first given annually beginning in 1998 and became an official ALA award in 2002. One of the winning books this year is The Talk-Funny Girl (Crown, July 2011) written by Roland Merullo (Micronesia 1979–80). The  novel is set in central western New Hampshire. It is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who lives with her parents in a cabin in the woods. They belong to a cult that believes the sins of the adults are forgiven through the suffering of the children. (“Suffer the little children. . .” a Biblical verse they grossly misinterpret.) They are abusive and . . .

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Frances Stone's new book Through the Eyes of My Children

DURING A BRIEF PERIOD in the 1970s the Peace Corps accepted families as Volunteers. Frances and Paul Stone eagerly  made the decision to sign up for the program as a way of serving their country overseas for two years. They were among the first families to join, and were assigned to the Philippines with their four children to share their expertise in agriculture and education while keeping up with their  energetic, enthusiastic youngsters. Frances Stone’s (Philippines 1971–73) Through the Eyes of My Children: The Adventures of a Peace Corps Volunteer Family, published this month by Peace Corps Writers, is a delightful read for young adults from middle school age on up who are interested in true life adventures about young people. This is the story of a family of six who all become Peace Corps Volunteers, and it is told in the voices of the children. Daniel the oldest sees . . .

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Review of Letters From Moritz Thomsen by Christopher West Davis (Kenya 1975-78)

Letters From Moritz Thomsen by Christopher West Davis (Kenya 1975–78) Create Space $ 11.95 (paperback) 137 pages 2010 Review by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) WHEN YOU OPEN A BOOK and read the first paragraph that begins: One lazy spring afternoon in 1981, a high school friend from New York, Peter L., showed up at the door of my basement apartment in Washington, D.C. with a scruffy old geezer in tow. The old guy was writer Moritz Thomsen, 64 at the time, once dubbed “the greatest American writer you’ve never heard of,” who was making a rare trip north from his self-imposed exile in Ecuador to visit his literary friends and agent in New York, and take the train down here to D.C. to attend a lecture by another of his friends, Paul Theroux, at the Library of  Congress. Well, you know you are dealing with a real writer. Christopher West Davis is . . .

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P.F. Kluge (Micronesia 1967-69) and Josh Radnor Together Again at Kenyon College

A Writer Writes Whenever I want to annoy Peace Corps writers I tell them that P.F. Kluge Micronesia (1969-70) is the smartest writer to serve as a PCV. That gets them. They, of course, if they know anything of Kluge’s work, can’t really dismiss my claim. Paul Frederick Kluge has had a long and illustrious career as a novelist, academic, travel writer, journalist and lecturer. Not to list all of his lengthy CV, (which runs a full five pages) let just note a few of his many accomplishments. Early in his career, when he was a young editor at Life magazine, he wrote a story for them that became the film, Dog Day Afternoon. He next wrote a novel that became the 1983 film of the same name, Eddie and the Cruisers. In 1992 he wrote his “Peace Corps” memoir, The Edge of Paradise: America in Micronesia, published by Random . . .

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Still more on the Peace Corps Book Locker!

Questions on the famous Peace Corps Locker came back to me recently and once again I went searching through files looking for lost documents and I came across a letter written to me by Jack Hood Vaughn on December 3, 1999. For those RPCVs who never received a Peace Corps Book Locker, they were given out to all of us in the early days.  The Book Locker was sent overseas  with the first Volunteers so we might start a small library in our schools, as well as having something to read. These paperback books were to be left behind when we left our towns and villages. Now, of course, PCVs have cell phone and laptops, iPods and iPhones….who needs a book! Well, we certainly did. What I had been trying to track down, back in the ’90s, was how did the Book  Locker come to be? I have heard that it was Eunice Shriver who first had the idea, and . . .

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Maureen Orth (Colombia 1965-67) on Morning Joe

Very early this morning, Maureen Orth was on Morning Joe. It was a much better opportunity for her to talk about her Peace Corps Post Card Blog and to show some PCVs in China. I’m told by ‘those in positions to know’ that the agency was very helpful in arranging the trip to China, though as an RPCV Maureen and her partner, Susan Koch, were on their own with contributions from American Express, and, I believe, Bank of America. Check out the website: www.PeaceCorpsPostcards.com  and this morning’s appearance on NBC Morning  Joe. Luckily Joe wasn’t around so Maureen didn’t have to deal with him and his super ego! http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036789/ns/msnbc_tv-morning_joe/

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Review of Coming Apart by Charles Murray (Thailand 1965-67)

Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010 Charles Murray (Thailand 1965–67) Crown Forum 407 pages $27.00 (hardback) 2012 Reviewed by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975–77) WHILE READING CHARLES MURRAY’S NEW BOOK, I thought about our recent national obsession with civil discourse and events in Oakland, California. Since it never snows in Oakland, Occupy Wall Street has been very visible there. It would have been most illustrative to seat Mr. Murray at a cloth covered table, set on a high platform overlooking the street below. A finely dressed and polite moderator could have introduced him while the author poured himself a glass of water from an imported bottle. “Charles Murray is an American libertarian, author and PhD invited here to explain that you do not have jobs because you are fat, lazy and dishonest sons and daughters of bitches.” Murray cloaks these terms in ten dollar words and phrases but . . .

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Mark Brazaitis Wins 2012 Richard Sullivan Prize

Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1990-93) latest short-story collection, The Incurables, has just won the 2012 Richard Sullivan Prize. The collection will be published by the University of Notre Dame Press in winter/spring 2012-2013. The award also  includes a reading at the University of Notre Dame in the spring of 2013. In the judges’ words: “The competition was a difficult one-every entrant had published at least one previous collection, and nearly every entrant had won previous competitions-but Mark’s collection was a standout.” Mark’s stories in the collection have appeared in Ploughshares (The Incurables was recognized as “distinguished” in the Best American Short Stories 2009 volume). Other stories were published by The Sun, Post Road, Confrontation, Cimarron Review, and the Notre Dame Review. Congratulations, Mark!

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