Archive - December 2015

1
Searching for Jose
2
Talk less, Write more
3
Review of John Coyne's (Ethiopia 1962-64) Novel Hobgoblin
4
Letters from Nurses in the Peace Corps
5
Press 53 Editor Clifford Garstang (Korea 1976-77) Looking for Short Fiction
6
Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80) Publishes "Bitter River" in The Baffler
7
Steven Radelet (Samoa 1981-83) Publishes The Great Surge:The Ascent of the Developing World
8
Here's a Comment from Andrew Herman We All Should Read on Peace Corps Fantasies
9
Kent Haruf's (Turkey 1965-67) Last Novel Remembered
10
Peace Corps Reports on Volunteer Safety and Security

Searching for Jose

His address on a letter written nineteen years ago is all I have to go by. Dominga’s grandson, he is the godson I knew only as an infant, though he wrote me periodically for many years. I give the taxi driver the address in Barrio El Carmen, explaining my story. “I don’t know if my godson still lives there.” We locate the street and the house number. Several workers mill about in front of the house, which is being remodeled and is clearly unoccupied. The driver says, “Ask the neighbors.” “Do you know what happened to the Castillo Rocha family who used to live here?” Heads shake. “No, no one by that name. Ask that woman across the street. She’s been here a long time.” “No, sorry.” Back in the taxi, I tell the driver, “I have his parents’ address. Can you take me there? It’s in Barrio La Sierra.” . . .

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Talk less, Write more

I was reading recently that while less people are reading, books themselves are getting longer. James Finlayson at Vervesearch analyzed more than 2,500 bestsellers list and found that the average number of pages in a book has increased by 25 percent in the last 15 years. Books published today have on average about 80 pages more than they did in 1999. According to The Guardian “The first five years of Booker-winning novels average out at around 300 pages, but even taking into account Julian Barnes’s 2011 triumph with his 160-page novella The Sense of an Ending, the last five years of Booker laureates weigh in at an average of 520 pages. This year’s winner was brief only in name: Marlon James’s 700-page A Brief History of Seven Killings.”

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Review of John Coyne's (Ethiopia 1962-64) Novel Hobgoblin

Hobgoblin (new issue) John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) Dover Publications September 2015 320 pages $14.95 (paperback) $9.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Bob Arias (Colombia 1964-66) • Boo! Trick or Treat? No, this isn’t a Halloween novel with Ghosts, Vampires, and Witches. This is a murder mystery, with bodies everywhere. From Connecticut, where young Scott attended Spencertown Academy to Flat Rock, a rural high school in Crossroads, New York. Scott and his beautiful Mom Barbara have moved south after his father Warren dies of a heart attack. The mystery just gets started as Barbara takes on the position of Historian for a medieval castle known as Ballycastle. Built by wealthy Irishman Fergus O’Cuileannain, who is a rather weird individual, cared for by another Irish Serf named Conor Fitzpatrick. Conor resembles a fast walking Hobbit always carrying on in his Irish Gaelic. What a setting. Ballycastle is three hours from New York City and . . .

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Letters from Nurses in the Peace Corps

Letters from  Nurses in the Peace Corps was published in 1967 as a recruiting brochure. It currently is not available on the media website of the Peace Corps. When the transition to the new website, PCLive, is complete, then this digitalized historical document and others may be once again available online on that website. I have copied some letters here. As the work of Peace Corps Volunteers, particularly women, is under discussion, I wanted to show their Peace Corps work, in their own words. • • • • • Letters from Peace Corps Nurses A 1967 Peace Corps recruiting brochure . RUTH REESE WRITES FROM MALAYSIA It was a quiet Sunday when two young girls from the nearest longhouse came to fetch me to deliver a baby — my first such opportunity in six weeks of health work among the 13 longhouses at our community-development center. Birth in an !bah longhouse . . .

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Press 53 Editor Clifford Garstang (Korea 1976-77) Looking for Short Fiction

Everywhere Stories Volume II: More Short Fiction from a Small Planet Ends on 12/31/2015 Call for submissions! Following the success of Everywhere Stories Volume I, we are now preparing Volume II for publication in the Fall of 2016. Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet (Edited by Clifford Garstang, published by Press 53 in Fall 2014) is an anthology of short fiction (short stories of any length, short shorts, and flash) set around the globe, including the United States. Volume I consisted of 20 stories by 20 authors set in 20 countries. Volume II will consist of around 20 fictions, with no more than one story set in any one country. Included stories will be a mix of previously published and new work. Each contributor will be entitled to a contributor copy and author discounts on additional copies. Deadline for submissions: December 31, 2015. Writers may submit more than one story. What . . .

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Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80) Publishes "Bitter River" in The Baffler

The current issue of The Baffler has a new story by Mark Jacobs ( Paraguay 1978-80). Mark is the winner of the Peace Corps Writers Maria Thomas Award for his novel Stone Cowboy. A former Foreign Service officer, he 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 in 1998. His five books include three novels and two collections of short stories. His story-“Bitter River”– can be found at: http://thebaffler.com/stories/bitter-river-mark-jacobs The Baffler, est. 1988, is a printed and digital magazine of art and criticism appearing three times annually-spring, summer, and fall. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is available in the U.S. states and abroad. Mark also has a story “Garbage Can” coming out shortly from Carolina Quarterly.

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Steven Radelet (Samoa 1981-83) Publishes The Great Surge:The Ascent of the Developing World

Steven Radelet  (Western Samoa 1981-83) holds the Donald F. McHenry Chair in Global Human Development at Georgetown University, is an economic adviser to the president of Liberia, and  the author of Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way. He  has just written a new book, The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World, published last month, that takes the position that “never before have so many people in so many developing countries made this much progress.” His book states that since the end of the Cold War, the development of new technologies, globalization, courageous local leadership, and, in some cases, good fortune have combined to dramatically improve the fate of hundred of millions of people in poor countries around the world. Early in his book, Radelet quotes another famous Peace Corps writer, Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65), who declared in 2013 in a piece for Barron’s that “I . . .

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Here's a Comment from Andrew Herman We All Should Read on Peace Corps Fantasies

“Talking with Dr. Molly Geidel about her Provocative Cultural History of the 1960s’ Peace Corps” Comment: Thank you John for facilitating this discussion and giving it quite a rocket engine of a start. First of all, I neither have time nor energy to expose all of the logical fallacies upholding this many-headed argument accusing 50 years of goodwill by Peace Corps volunteers of committing more harm than good. However, I will attack the most egregious of them here. For starters her entire argument assumes the Peace Corps must be guilty by association with the US federal government and never once attempts to quantify how exactly this argument should be upheld. As a scientist I was taught, “if it cannot be measured, it does not exist.” How exactly does Geidel intend to measure Peace Corps’ negative effects on indigenous cultures around the Third World? And even if it were proven fact, . . .

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Kent Haruf's (Turkey 1965-67) Last Novel Remembered

The Wall Street Journal’s Encore section on Monday, November 30, 2015, had a collection of recommended books for “The Good Life”. These were the top picks of 2015, a selection of great reads that “cover health, humor, travel and more” written by Diane Cole. She writes: If there is a recipe for aging well, it must involve the mind, the body, the spirit–and the funny bone. You’ll find myriad suggestions for how to do just that in this year’s best books for the territory ahead. On her list of six books is Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf (Turkey 1965-67). Cole writes: Kent Haruf’s spare and elegant novel, Our Souls at Night, was one of the best of the year for any age–but men and women entering new life phases will particularly savor the game courage and dry wit with which its two main characters take an unlikely bet . . .

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Peace Corps Reports on Volunteer Safety and Security

The Peace Corps has published the latest Statistical Report of Crimes against Volunteers for FY2014. The Report should be read, and I will not attempt to summarize it because it is so exact and comprehensive. The Report includes definitions of each category of crime and then breaks out the incidents by country and gender. I found it very difficult to read because it brings home in black and white the  difficulties that so many Volunteers are facing. Here is the link: http://files.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/policies/volsafety.pdf On the webpage of Peace Corps there are other direct links to various reports concerning safety and security for Volunteers. Here is the list and links. Many of these reports are for applicants and those entering service and are designed to inform them. Some remind me of the old booklets from colleges, “So Now you are going to College” “What about Safety”  This report was updated 9.2.15  Here . . .

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