Archive - November 2014

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A Writer Writes: Red Dress Magic by Karel Amaranth
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Review: In Manchuria by Michael Meyer (China 1995-97)
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Subject of Laurence Leamer's (Nepal 1964-66) book indicted in disaster at coal mine
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Review: Dancing with Gogos by Gary Cornelius (South Africa 2012-13)
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Amazon and Hachette Resolve Dispute
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The Peace Corps and America's Most Serendipitous Man: Harris Wofford
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Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80) Publishes Three New Short Stories
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Then and Now: Truth, The Peace Corps Numbers Game, and a Conscientious staffer, RPCV Marian Haley Beil
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Going Home
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Lenore Myka (Romania 1994-96) author of forthcoming King of the Gypsies

A Writer Writes: Red Dress Magic by Karel Amaranth

A Writer Writes Red Dress Magic by Karel Amaranth Karel Amaranth is a family friend (she attended college with my wife) and has a Bachelors degree in English and Creative Writing, and a Master of Arts degree in Fine Arts and Art Therapy.  She completed a Masters degree in Public Health at New York Medical College writing her thesis on an innovative project to address maternal mortality. While not an RPCV (well, no one is perfect) she has been working for 3 years with the Rotary Club of Makindye in Kampala, Uganda as the co-founder of Holistic Care for Mothers.  She traveled to Uganda this past summer to visit health facilities and women’s groups  to assess the needs of the communities and assist in strategic planning with Rotary Clubs, health providers and government officials, including the King of Tororo.  Holistic Care for Mothers has distributed more than 10,000 birthing kits . . .

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Review: In Manchuria by Michael Meyer (China 1995-97)

In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China by Michael Meyer (China 1995–97) Bloomsbury Press February 2015 384 pages Pre-order: $28.00 (Hardcover), $9.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64) I’ve had an interest in literature about China since I discovered a volume of translated Chinese poems on my parent’s bookshelves. The book, a handsome hardbound edition in bright orange linen, had a picture on the front of a lone figure in flowing robes standing on a boat poling across a swift river. Inside was a poem by Li Po titled “The River Merchant’s Wife.” In the poem, as a nine or ten year old, I first found that words could evoke feelings such as the notion of longing. Michael Meyer’s absorbing second book about China (his first, The Last Days of Old Beijing, is one I’m looking forward to reading), brings us a fresh, inside . . .

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Subject of Laurence Leamer's (Nepal 1964-66) book indicted in disaster at coal mine

The main character in Laurence Leamer’s (Nepal 1964-66) book, The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption, Donald L. Blankenship, was indicted on four criminal counts by a federal grand jury yesterday in West Virginia. He was charged with widespread violations of safety rules and deceiving federal inspectors. 29 men died in 2010, the worst coal mine disaster in West Virginia in 40 years. In today’s New York Times, Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia is quoted with saying, “As he [Blankenship] goes to trial, he will be treated far fairer and with more dignity than he ever treated the miners he employed. And, frankly, it’s more than he deserves.” The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption won the 2014 Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award presented by Peace Corps Writers. [For those not familiar with early Peace Corps history, Jay Rockefeller, when he was . . .

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Review: Dancing with Gogos by Gary Cornelius (South Africa 2012-13)

Dancing with Gogos: A Peace Corps Memoir By Gary P. Cornelius Peace Corps Writers 280 pages 2014 $13.00 (paperback) Reviewed by Jack Allison (Malawi 1966-69) • Gary Cornelius has written an inviting Peace Corps memoir in minute detail, interspersed with cogent quotes and anecdotes, including entries from his blog posts. This is a fresh and refreshing saga, for Cornelius served from 2012 to 2013, and the book was published in 2014. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease which resulted in his early departure from South Africa with one year remaining on his term of service. Because this issue was introduced early on in the book, it created tension about what he would accomplish in one year after in-country training. Cornelius had wanted to join the Peace Corps for 40 years prior, even after two rejections due to pre-existing medical issues. He was also an older Volunteer — he was . . .

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Amazon and Hachette Resolve Dispute

By DAVID STREITFELDNOV. 13, 2014 New York Times Amazon and Hachette announced Thursday morning that they have resolved their differences and signed a new multiyear contract, bringing to an official end one of the most bitter publishing conflicts in recent years. Neither side gave details of the deal, but both pronounced themselves happy with the terms. Hachette gets the ability to set the prices on its e-books, which was a major battleground in the dispute. “This is great news for writers,” said Michael Pietsch, Hachette’s chief executive. “The new agreement will benefit Hachette authors for years to come. It gives Hachette enormous marketing capability with one of our most important bookselling partners.” An Amazon executive, David Naggar, said Amazon was “pleased with this new agreement as it includes specific financial incentives for Hachette to deliver lower prices, which we believe will be a great win for readers and authors alike.” The agreement . . .

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The Peace Corps and America's Most Serendipitous Man: Harris Wofford

The November 2014 special issue of the New Republic is their anniversary issue (One Hundred Years of Politics & The Arts) that features articles on America’s great and infamous, and has much to my delight (and to all of us who were with him in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia) an article written by Jason Zengerle, the senior editor at The New Republic entitled, “Wofford Was Here: The Twentieth Century’s most Serendipitous Man.” Spotting it today when the magazine arrived in the mail I thought: Well, it’s about time. There are two photographs, one of Harris with Kennedy on the White House lawn greeting PCVs training in Washington, D.C. in the summer of ’62. (Those PCVs just happen to be the Ethiopia I Volunteers) and another photograph of Harris and his wife Clare and Bill Clinton and Al Gore in the Oval Office. The article charts Wofford’s long life, some . . .

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Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80) Publishes Three New Short Stories

“Antidote,” in The Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review (they also asked for an essay about writing the story, which he sent them); “A Lonely Man Talks to His Pig,” in Superstition Review; “Guinevere,” Chagrin River Review Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80) is a former U.S. Foreign Service officer who has published more than 100 stories in magazines including The Atlantic, The Southern Humanities Review, The Idaho Review, The Southern Review, and The Kenyon Review. His story “How Birds Communicate” won The Iowa Review fiction prize. His five books include A Handful of Kings, published by Simon and Shuster, and Stone Cowboy, by Soho Press, which won the Peace Corps Writers  Maria Thomas Award. His website can be found at http://www.markjacobsauthor.com.

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Then and Now: Truth, The Peace Corps Numbers Game, and a Conscientious staffer, RPCV Marian Haley Beil

Are Peace Corps applications really at an historic high? Well not exactly. They are evidently the highest since data was kept electronically, beginning in the late 90s. It has always been a numbers game and one brave RPCV staffer refused to play it. Long before Marian Haley Beil (Ethopia I 62-64) was publisher of Peace Corps Worldwide and before she partnered with John Coyne to promote Peace Corps Writers through newsletters and websites, she was one of the first women staffers at Peace Corps Washington From 11/1965 to 12/1969 Marian worked at the Peace Corps in the Reports and Special Studies Branch (cleverly named by her boss – RSS! These are the initials for Robert Sargent Shriver, Director of the Peace Corps, then ) of the Office of Volunteer Support, first as Deputy Chief of the branch and later as Chief. Among other things, the branch was responsible for all reporting . . .

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Going Home

Contemplating my California sojourn, all I can say is — my cup runneth over. Immersed in the Ultimate Information Society, I became a sponge, soaking up the abundance of ideas and opportunities, stimulated, energized. Things I noticed: Americans shaking hands when meeting for the first time! So accustomed to the Chilean kissing society, hand shaking feeling stiff and formal. The sex change process now being referred to as gender reassignment. Baseball becoming exciting, especially if the San Francisco Giants are playing (and winning) the World Series. Frisky squirrels, noisy blue jays and shiny, coal-black crows harvesting the abundant acorns. A guitarist playing for money by the line for the cable car sporting a tee shirt with the slogan: Legalize gay marihuana. Love it! The neighbor’s goats, Buff and Sunny, crunching on dry magnolia leaves as if they were potato chips. Petting the goats leaving the scent of goat cheese on . . .

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Lenore Myka (Romania 1994-96) author of forthcoming King of the Gypsies

Lenore Myka (Romania 1994-96) is the author of King of the Gypsies: Stories, winner of the 2014 G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction, which will be published by BkMk Press in Fall 2015. Her fiction has also been selected as distinguished by The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Non-Required Reading series. Her award-winning work has appeared in New England Review, Iowa Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, West Branch, Colorado Review Online, Booth Journal, and Massachusetts Review, among others. She received her MFA in Fiction from Warren Wilson College. Learn more about Lenore at www.lenoremyka.com. Lenore taught English in Romania and this book grew out of that experience. Lenore writes that the stories involve a gypsy boy victimized by Romania’s notorious state-run orphanage system flees, determined to reunite with the parents who abandoned him. A child prostitute cajoles her way into the heart of an American aid worker, risking their friendship for . . .

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