Author - Marian Haley Beil

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“Fifty Years On: Sicaya 1964 & 2016” by Thea Evensen (Peru)
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Review — FLAMENCO IN THE TIME OF MOONSHINE AND MOBSTERS by David Edmonds (Chile)
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Review — THE TOUGHEST JOB I EVER LOVED by Jonathon Shacat (Gabon)
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Review — 101 ARABIAN TALES by Randolph Hobler (Libya)
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“The Sunny Side” by Ryan Gahris (Ethiopia)
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“Tonight’s the night . . . ” — Alana DeJoseph (Mali)
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New books by Peace Corps writers: March – April, 2020
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More opportunities for you to see A TOWERING TASK
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Review — WHAT SOME WOULD CALL LIES by Robert G. Davidson (Grenada)
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Talking with Martin Ganzglass (Somalia)

“Fifty Years On: Sicaya 1964 & 2016” by Thea Evensen (Peru)

  by Thea Evensen (Peru 1964–66) • YEARS AGO, THE TRAIN to Huancayo ran on a regular schedule, an early morning departure from the Desamparados station near the river behind the Presidential Palace in Lima. It was a twelve-hour trip. From sea level through the rugged Central Andes, the train traveled by switchbacks over a 16,000 ft. pass before descending into the Mantaro Valley. On the way to its final destination, there were stops at Chosica, San Bartolome, Matucana, San Mateo, Casapalca, La Oroya, and Jauja. At each station women and children crowded onto the cars with their baskets, selling sandwiches and fruit to the passengers. It was a slow trip, but breathtaking, a chance to ride one of the highest railroads in the world. Now, the train runs infrequently and most people travel to Huancayo by bus. Transportes Cruz del Sur offers double decker first class comfort with wide padded . . .

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Review — FLAMENCO IN THE TIME OF MOONSHINE AND MOBSTERS by David Edmonds (Chile)

  Flamenco in the Time of Moonshine and Mobsters David C. Edmonds (Chile 1963–65) St. Petersburg Press December, 2019 375 pages $18.95 (paperback), $18.00 (Kindle) Review by: D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976–77) • Are you looking for a fun read for this Summer of the Corona Virus Pandemic? Then the latest historical novel by David Edmonds may be for you. Modern day Flamenco dancer Amy Romano drives her Prius into a huge southern Florida sink hole and emerges in 1932. Like Alice going down the rabbit hole, Amy emerges in a whole different world. Except in her case it is the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa during the Great Depression, complete with moonshine, mobsters and G-men! Flamenco in the Time of Moonshine and Mobsters is 375 pages yet is a surprisingly quick read due to the short chapters, filled with action, 99 of them. I found myself . . .

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Review — THE TOUGHEST JOB I EVER LOVED by Jonathon Shacat (Gabon)

  The Toughest Job I Ever Loved: A Peace Corps Memoir Jonathon  Shacat (Gabon 1998–2000) Amazon 2017 181 pages $9.99 (paperback), $4.99 (Kindle Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976–77) • Jonathon Shacat, who is now a journalist, has self-published a well written memoir of his Peace Corps experience in Gabon, central Africa. He was a fish culture extension agent, helping villagers build clay-lined ponds and raise tilapia, from 1998 to 2000. I’ll get my gripes out of the way first. The book does not contain any maps of Gabon, any photos, or even page numbers! But it is an entertaining account that maintains its upbeat tone through incidents involving eating grubs and insects, mixing antelope blood with rice, a machete wound, a bout with Dengue fever and ridding himself of round worms. Though the author’s Peace Corps experience was almost a quarter century after my own, like . . .

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Review — 101 ARABIAN TALES by Randolph Hobler (Libya)

  101 Arabian Tales: How We All Persevered in Peace Corps Libya by Randolph W. Hobler (Libya 1968–69) Coming to LuLu in August Review by D.W. Jefferson • Randy Hobler has taken on the herculean task of writing a comprehensive history of the Peace Corps in Libya, and a collective memoir of 101 Libya PCVs (102 including the author/editor). He began by interviewing as many Libya RPCVs as he could find, along with asking them for any journals or letters from their Peace Corps years, to go along with his own. He then managed to meld all of that information into an engaging collection of tales covering everything about the Peace Corps involvement in Libya, from the training of Libya I, to the termination of Libya III  before they left their training sites in the U.S. for Libya, when Muammar Ghaddafi kicked out Peace Corps. Mr. Hobler began his project . . .

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“The Sunny Side” by Ryan Gahris (Ethiopia)

  Sitting just to be still, unknowingly, atop an ant hill — the spiders above were spinning their silk. Ahead was an untilled meadow, overgrown and waist-high with nettles. Hiding away microscopic marvels — things just being things. Left to be and compete for the simplest of needs. Predisposed to balance between extremes. Day and night. Hot and cold. Dry and wet. Here and there. But, who really cares? As I stared, my eyes unleashed the anti-abyss — the negative imprint of a tired mind, out sick. But once a lone cloud lured my vacant gaze, it bulldozed through the invisible maze. An ink blot set against a blinding blue blaze. Morphing to mirror my revolting cynical state. Inching closer, as if it had something wise to say… The wind whipped in advance to trigger a chill. Every hair was raised to a static standstill. The elevated scent of a . . .

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“Tonight’s the night . . . ” — Alana DeJoseph (Mali)

. . . for you to stream the Virtual Cinema premiere of director Alana DeJoseph’s (Mali 1992–94) wonderful movie: A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps via  60 theaters around the country. It’s easy to watch: Choose a theater closest to you on the Playdates page. Then click on “Ticket” to rent the film for three days. The ticket price is $10. Half of the proceeds go to the theater to help keep them alive during the COVID closure! Watch the trailer NOW.   “ENLIGHTENING AND UPLIFTING! A Towering Task puts a human face on the Peace Corps – and makes sense of its history of idealism, improvisation and politics. It is the most coherent and satisfying documentary I know of the Peace Corps, and I can’t imagine a better one. The film is enlightening, too, for being in large part the portrait of a period when America was . . .

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New books by Peace Corps writers: March – April, 2020

To purchase any of these books from Amazon.com — CLICK on the book cover, the bold book title, or the publishing format you would like — and Peace Corps Worldwide, an Amazon Associate, will receive a small remittance from your purchase that will help support the site and the annual Peace Corps Writers awards. We now include a one-sentence description — provided by the author — for the books listed here in hopes of encouraging readers  1) to order the book and 2) to volunteer to review it. See a book you’d like to review for Peace Corps Worldwide? Send a note to Marian at peacecorpsworldwide@gmail.com, and we’ll send you a copy along with a few instructions.   • Letters from Turkey: A Peace Corps Volunteer’s Story William D. Brockhaus (Turkey 1967–69) Outskirts Press August 2019 524 pages $26.95 (paperback) The author will take the reader through an intimate view of his two years in the small Turkish town . . .

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More opportunities for you to see A TOWERING TASK

  Starting this Friday (May 22), you will be able to buy movie tickets from your local theaters and stream “A Towering Task” while at the same time supporting a local movie house. Go to “First Run Features” to learn if this his happening in your neighborhood. http://www.firstrunfeatures.com/toweringtask_playdates.html   If you don’t see your neighborhood theater in this list, send this link to your theater so that they can sign up to participate in this opportunity: https://bit.ly/AToweringTaskVirtualCinemaSignUp  

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Review — WHAT SOME WOULD CALL LIES by Robert G. Davidson (Grenada)

    What Some Would Call Lies: Novellas Robert G. Davidson (Eastern Caribbean—Grenada, West Indies 1990-92) Five Oaks Press July 2018 177 pages $16.99 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle) Review by: D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76), (Costa Rica 1976–77) • In the interest of full disclosure, I must report that I read and thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Davidson’s previous book, Spectators (Flash Fictions). The two novellas that comprise What Some Would Call Lies showcase Rob Davidson’s profound insight into the minds and thought processes of human beings, and his ability to bring sympathetic characters to life, causing us to feel what they feel, or at least recall and reflect upon similar experiences of our own. Davidson teaches creative writing. These novellas are great examples of the craft. The title What Some Would Call Lies derives from the idea that, even when writing nonfiction, a writer often includes experiences that are not literally true. . . .

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Talking with Martin Ganzglass (Somalia)

  Martin Ganzglass answers questions from Peace Corps Worldwide about The Price of Freedom — the 6th and closing novel of his Revolutionary War series that will make you want to read all six!     Where and when did you serve in the Peace Corps? Tell us about where you lived and worked. I was a PCV in Somalia from 1966 to 1968. I lived in Mogadishu with my wife, who was also a Volunteer, in a small apartment in a two-story building above a Pakistani owned grocery shop. The street below teemed with Somalis going to the numerous markets in our neighborhood. Behind us, was Hamaar Weyn, the old area of the city where women wore burkas, goldsmiths sold intricately fashioned jewelry by weight, and weavers sat in pit looms and made Benaadir cloth. The mosque immediately behind our building lacked a live Muezzin to call people to prayer, but . . .

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