Archive - November 2014

1
David Hapgood (PC Evaluator 1962-65) Dies in Manhattan
2
Rereading Paul Theroux's (Malawi 1963-65) Girls At Play, Part III
3
Rereading Paul Theroux's (Malawi 1963-65) Girls At Play, Part II
4
Peace Corps Update for RPCVs
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Rereading Paul Theroux's (Malawi 1963-65) Girls At Play
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New books by Peace Corps writers — October 2014

David Hapgood (PC Evaluator 1962-65) Dies in Manhattan

Thanks to an alert from Kitty Thuermer (Mali 1977-79) I’ve learned that David Hapgood, one of the legendary early evaluators of the Peace Corps has passed away in New York. Hapgood co-authored the first inside Peace Corps books on the agency, Agents of Change: A Close Look at the Peace Corps. It was written with another evaluator, Meridan Bennett. In their acknowledgments they state that: “This book is anything but official,” and then go onto praise their boss, Charlie Peters, who headed the Peace Corps Division of Evaluation from 1962 to the spring of 1968. As they write, “The unique process of self-criticism known in the Peace Corps as evaluation would never have existed without Charlie Peters’ courage and imagination.” Hapgood and Bennett’s book was published by Little, Brown & Company in 1968. I always enjoyed that the book was dedicated to “H.C.N. Without whom this book would never have . . .

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Rereading Paul Theroux's (Malawi 1963-65) Girls At Play, Part III

What strikes me now rereading Girls At Play is how Theroux did not linger with prose on the beauty of Africa, as he has quite wonderfully uses his evocative skills in other books and essays. In those early books he does not wax and wane as RPCV writers tend to do (including myself) on descriptions of the landscape. In those three novels, he was more interested in the play of personalities in Africa than the lay of the land. Theroux’s third novel on Africa is Jungle Lovers which focuses on Malawi, looking at the changing political and social climate of the country. It came about because of what happened to him when he was teaching at the university in Kampala. “Jungle Lovers was the result of my departure from Africa,” Paul writes. “In 1968, after five years in Malawi and Uganda, my wife and I were attacked by rioting students . . .

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Rereading Paul Theroux's (Malawi 1963-65) Girls At Play, Part II

Theroux’s first novel Waldo was a picaresque story of a young man who became a success as a writer. It sold around 4000 copies, which was impressive for a first novel, but did not generate enough money for Theroux to quit his day job. His second novel Fong and the Indians, was the first of many “African books” and it was his first book (of many) that dealt with the complexities of a changing Africa. The protagonist was a bungling anti-hero, Sam Fong, a Chinese Catholic grocer. It, too, had limited sales and while it had good reviews, especially in England, it didn’t make any best seller lists. Then came Girls at Play a year later. Paul would write about writing Girls at Play: “My future wife taught at a girls’ school in Kenya. While I was writing (Fong and the Indians), I courted her by driving hundreds of miles . . .

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Peace Corps Update for RPCVs

Thank you to John Coyne for forwarding the following Peace Corps Update designed specifically for RPCVs.  I believe that it is published through the Office of the Third Goal.  The webpage has a menu specifically designed to link RPCVs to more information. Here is the link to view that entire webpage: http://www.mailoutinteractive.com/Industry/View.aspx?id=626719&q=799195384&qz=899601 Of real interest to RPCVs might well be  the description of the positions open with Peace Corps Response.  Scroll down to that heading. Much of this information can be found in other parts of the official Peace Corps website.  However, this Update is designed specifically for RPCVs and includes the personal letter from Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. At first glance, I am not sure how much of an incentive the loan program would have to those RPCVs struggling with gigantic student loan debt.  The plan appears to require  120 payments be made first. I think that is ten years. . . .

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Rereading Paul Theroux's (Malawi 1963-65) Girls At Play

I have been working my way through a new collecting of short stories by Paul Theroux, Mr. Bones: Twenty Stories, which Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published this September. Only one of the stories (so far) relates to his time in Africa. It is entitled, “I’m the Meat, You’re the Knife.” It is the last story in the collection. (Writers–or perhaps their editors–) selected the best stories for the first and last ones in any collection. I first read Girls At Play in the late Sixties. This novel was his third. His first book was Waldo (1967), next three were set in Africa. Fong and the Indians (1968), Girls at Play (1969), and Jungle Lovers (1971).  At the time, I remember reviewers were saying Theroux was ‘writing too fast,’ that he should slow down his publishing. At the same time Saturday Review called Fong and the Indians “a small masterpiece.”  (If he . . .

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New books by Peace Corps writers — October 2014

Rush of Shadows (Historical Fiction) by Catherine Bell (Brazil 1966–68) Washington Writers Publishing House October 2014 384 pages $17.95 (paperback) • Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy (Peace Corps Memoir) by Christopher R. Hill (Cameroon 1974–76) Simon & Schuster October 2014 448 pages $30.00 (hardcover), $12.74 (Kindle) • Love & Ordinary Creatures (Novel) by Gwyn Hyman Rubio (Costa Rica 1971–73) Ashland Creek Press 306 pages October 2014 $17.95 (paperback) • Mr. Bones: Twenty Stories by Paul Theroux (Malawi Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 368 pages September 2014 $27.00 (hardcover), $14.85 (Kindle) • A Man Named Jay: the true story of a boy who died and the man who lived (Children) by Damian Wampler (Kyrgyzstan) CreateSpace 70 pages January 2014 •

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