Archive - May 2012

1
Montezuma Country RPCVs Remember Their Tours
2
NYTIMES Reviews Theroux's The Lower River
3
How To Sell Your Self-Published Book in Brick & Mortar Bookstores
4
George Packer (Togo 1982-83) on Kennedy, Obama, and L.B.J.
5
Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) Plays Criminal Suspect at Oxford
6
Norm Rush (Botswana CD 1978-83) Reviews Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) Novel, The Lower River
7
April 2012 New Peace Corps Books
8
"The Playground" by Terrence McCoy (Cambodia 2009-11) Reviewed in The Washington Post
9
Tom Bissell's Magic Hours: Essay on Creators and Creation
10
"An American Family" new novel by Peter Lefcourt (Togo 1962-64)

Montezuma Country RPCVs Remember Their Tours

The Cortez Journal Peace Time Montezuma County residents recall their experiences as former Peace Corps volunteers Former volunteers tell stories By Michael Maresh Journal Staff Writer Stories from local residents who formerly served as Peace Corps volunteers follow: BILL SOUTHWORTH (Nigeria 1962-64) Bill Southworth joined the Peace Corps in 1962 and spent two years in Nigeria to teach a variety of different subjects there, including history, health and science, and basketball. After joining, he learned not only about the United States but also about himself. Southworth said being in another country for two years gave him a different perspective – from the eyes of another country. During his down time, he tried to get other Peace Corps volunteers to teach African history to the people since this was their history, but mentioned he was sent to Nigeria to teach English there. Southworth said he would have liked to stay, but . . .

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NYTIMES Reviews Theroux's The Lower River

The Sunday New York Times Book Review section on May 20, 2012,  has a review of Paul Theroux’s (Malawi 1963-65) novel, The Lower River. Reviewer Patrick McGrath sums up: The Lower River is riveting in its storytelling and provocative in its depiction of this African backwater, infusing both with undertones of slavery and cannibalism, savagery and disease. Theroux exposes the paternalism of Hock’s Peace Corps nostalgia, his “sense of responsibility, almost the conceit of ownership.” That sense of responsibility, and Hock’s modest contribution to the welfare of a people he was once genuinely fond of, has been replaced by a harsher mode of operation, run by hardhearted contractors living apart in impregnable compounds. “I have to leave,” Hock pleads. “I’m going home.” To which the village headman replies, with chilling menace, “This is your home, father.”

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How To Sell Your Self-Published Book in Brick & Mortar Bookstores

[Our own Jason Boog (Guatemala 2000-02) had an article yesterday in his wonderful GalleyCat site on selling in bookstores. It comes from the American Bookseller Association. I’m reprinting it here.] The American Booksellers Association has posted a very useful article explaining how self-published authors can sell their books at a few independent bookstores around the country. We’ve posted links to those helpful resources below, but you should read the whole article. If your bookstore has an option for self-published authors, share a link in the comments section-we will update our article with more resources. Watermark Books and Cafe owner Sarah Bagby explained how self-published writers can add books at her Wichita, Kansas bookstore. “No questions asked, we’ll take five copies of a book on consignment,” said Bagby. The terms are 60/40, and the store keeps the books on the shelves for 90 days. “If they sell, we’ll get back to the author . . .

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George Packer (Togo 1982-83) on Kennedy, Obama, and L.B.J.

[George Packer (Togo 1982-83) put up this item yesterday on The New Yorker website. It is really a smart piece on presidents, vice presidents, and how history repeats itself.] In one of those coincidences that get you thinking in historical analogies, President Obama announced support for same-sex marriage just a few days after the publication of Robert Caro’s fourth volume on the life of Lyndon B. Johnson, “The Passage of Power.” Obama arrived at his position in very much the way that John F. Kennedy decided to put the force of the White House behind civil rights: slowly, reluctantly, and with a big assist from his overlooked, often ridiculed Vice-President. I spent the summer of 1980 as an intern at a legal-aid office in southern Alabama, and in the houses of poor black people I got used to seeing a sign on the wall that said, “The three who set . . .

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Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) Plays Criminal Suspect at Oxford

Before Peter Hessler was awarded a “genius” grant by the MacArthur Foundation, and before he was a PCV in China (1996-98), he was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Of that time, he writes in the current issue of The New Yorker, (May 21, 2012). He found part-time work standing in police lineups. At the time he was reading, as they say at Oxford, English Language and Literature, and his courses included tutorials on Middle English, Spenser, Shakespeare, the seventeenth century, and the eighteenth century. At the start of the Michaelmas term, he saw a notice that the St. Aldates Police Station was looking for volunteers to stand in identity parades. They paid ten pounds per parade. So Peter went down to the station and signed up. His first parade was for stealing bikes. The station hadn’t finished constructing its viewing room, which would feature a one-way mirror. For the time being, . . .

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Norm Rush (Botswana CD 1978-83) Reviews Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) Novel, The Lower River

It would take the lengthy pages of The New York Review of Books(June 7, 2012) to bring these two old Peace Corps African hands together, with one reviewing the other. Theroux’s book, The Lower River, is out this month from Houghton Mifflin, and here’s the basic plot: “Ellis Hock never believed that he would return to Africa. He runs an old-fashioned menswear store in a small town in Massachusetts but still dreams of his Eden, the four years he spent in Malawi with the Peace Corps, cut short when he had to return to take over the family business. When his wife leaves him, and he is on his own, he realizes that there is one place for him to go: back to his village in Malawi, on the remote Lower River, where he can be happy again. Arriving at the dusty village, he finds it transformed: the school he built . . .

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April 2012 New Peace Corps Books

Bending with the Wind: Memoir of a Cambodian Couple’s Escape to America Bounchoeurn Sao & Diyana D. Sao as told to Karline Frances Topp Bird (Thailand 1968-70) McFarland & Company $35.00 210 pages March 2012 • Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996-97) McSweeney’s, Believer Books $14.00 300 pages April 2012 (more about the book) • Unofficial Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook by Travis Hellstrom (Mongolia 2008–11) Advance Humanity Publishing $15.95 234 pages 2010 (PCWW review) • The Master Blaster by P.F. Kluge (Micronesia 1969-70) Overlook Press $25.95 304 pages April, 2012 (re NYTimes review) • Far Away In The Sky: A Memoir of the Biafran Airlift by David L. Koren (1965–66) Createspace $17.99 (paperback); $8.60 (Kindle) 332 pages April 2011 • Peace Corps Experience: Write and Publish Your Memoir by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975–77) iUniverse $13.95 (paperback); $3.03 (Kindle) 127 pages April 2012 • . . .

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"The Playground" by Terrence McCoy (Cambodia 2009-11) Reviewed in The Washington Post

“The Playground by Terrence M. McCoy (Cambodia 2009-11) was reviewed in the Washington Post today, Sunday, May 11, 2012 by Steven Levingston. Levingston writes: Kindle Singles is a 15-month-old e-book venture from Amazon that strives to publish original fiction and nonfiction works at Goldilocks length: not too long, not too short but just right. Its Web site lays out the ambition: “Compelling Ideas Expressed at Their Natural Length.” The books, as short as David Baldacci’s 15-page story “No Time Left” or as long as Dean Koontz’s 102-page “The Moonlit Mind,” are vetted, accepted (or rejected) and edited by David Blum and put on sale at the very modern price of 99 cents to $4.99. Kindle Singles isn’t just for brand-name authors. It serves its greatest purpose by showcasing the work of unknown authors of exceptional ability, such as the journalist Terrence M. McCoy. His just-released book, “The Playground” is an ire-inspiring . . .

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Tom Bissell's Magic Hours: Essay on Creators and Creation

Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996-97) is the author of Extra Lives, Chasing the Sea, God Lives in St. Petersburg, and The Father of All Things. He is the recipient of the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Bay de Noc Community College Alumnus of the Year Award. He lives in Los Angeles, but knowing Tom, he might not be there long. When we were last in touch, he was teaching in Portland, Oregon. Previous to that, he lived in New York City, Ho Chi Minh City, Rome, Las Vegas, and Tallinn. And this is a guy who is from the middle of nowhere, Escanaba, Michigan. What keeps him on the move is his writing and research. Tom has just published a new collection of essays that “explores the highs and lows of the creative process.” He takes us from the set of The Big Bang Theory to the first novel . . .

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"An American Family" new novel by Peter Lefcourt (Togo 1962-64)

A new novel is out this month from Amazon.com as an ebook written by that wonderful writer, Peter Lefcourt (Togo 1962-64) Peter is best known for his best-selling comic novels: The Deal, The Dreyfus Affair, Di & I, Abbreviating Ernie, The Woody, Eleven Karens and The Manhattan Project. This, however,  is a much more serious book. An American Family is told through the shifting points of view of the five Perl siblings born in the 1940’s, and between the two iconic dates of the last fifty years: the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the catastrophe of 9/11. Within this time frame one family is swept up in the sweeping cultural changes of those years: the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, rock music, drugs, women’s liberation, the turbulence in American culture. Writing this book took Peter away from what he has done to make a living since his Peace Corps . . .

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