Literary Type

News of writers who have served in the Peace Corps.

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A Writer Writes — about BOWING TO ELEPHANTS by Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon)
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“Justice for Pidgie D’Allessio” by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon)
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BLUE COUNTRY by Mark Wentling (Honduras)
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ASIA WITHOUT BORDERS by Steve Kaffen (Russia)
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Migrant Caravans and Social Justice by Mark Walker (Guatemala)
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Roland Merullo Plans One-Day Writing/Meditation Retreat (Micronesia)
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Martin Ganzglass (Somalia) publishes THE PRICE OF FREEDOM — #6 of a series
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Jonathan R. C. Green (Thailand) has published FIGHTING MALARIA ON THE RIVER KWAI
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New novel — UNORTHODOXY by Joshua A. N. Harris (Mali)
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Paulette Perhach (Paraguay) joins ‘Faculty’ of September’s Writers Workshop

A Writer Writes — about BOWING TO ELEPHANTS by Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon)

    Bowing To Elephants Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon 1996-98) • The difference between an autobiography and a memoir, I used to tell my students, has everything to do with a couple of prepositions: of and from. An autobiography is the story of a life — usually the life of a rich and famous person — written by that person (or his or her ghost writer). Whereas a memoir is a story (or stories) from the life of a more-or-less ordinary person. A famous person can begin her autobiography at the very beginning (I was born in the dead of winter in a one-room cabin with no heat or running water in the hills of Appalachia, let’s say), and the reader will stick with it because all the while in the back of that reader’s mind there’ll be the nagging question: How in the world did this person ever get to be rich and famous?! The memoirist, on . . .

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“Justice for Pidgie D’Allessio” by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon)

  Justice for Pidgie D’Allessio by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon 1965–67)   I thought I’d finished writing, Girls of Tender Age, ten years ago. Then an email appeared in my inbox with a subject line so unexpected, so shocking, really, that it took me a few minutes to dare touch my fingers to the keyboard. First I went and poured a second cup of coffee, took a couple of gulps, sat down at my desk again and opened the message. The story was not over. A new ending was out there, a miserable one. I bought a new notebook and a box of Pilot G-2s, #10, Bold; I write all my first drafts in longhand. The memoir centered on the murder of Irene Fiederowicz in Hartford, Connecticut. Irene was my friend, my neighbor, and my classmate. The last time I saw her was the day we went on our field trip . . .

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BLUE COUNTRY by Mark Wentling (Honduras)

Blue Country by Mark Wentling (Honduras 1967–69, Togo 1970–73; PC Staff: Togo, Gabon, Niger 1973–77) Page Publishing 204 pages August 2019 $16.95 (paperback)   Unexpected twists and turns keep the reader guessing about what will happen next. Throughout this entertaining novel is weaved a one-way dialogue between a dying prisoner who tells repeatedly his sad story to a hungry jailhouse rat, which only lives to eat. The story moves from the death and destruction of one town to the amazing rebuilding of a new town by survivors who lived to tell the tale. The human foibles of many of the book’s characters are displayed. Miracles make possible survival, love, and marriage, but evil lurks beneath the surface, and unforeseeable events determine the future of a people and their country. Heroes live and die by the hand of hidden forces beyond their control. The eyes of an innocent young man, offspring . . .

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ASIA WITHOUT BORDERS by Steve Kaffen (Russia)

    Asia Without Borders Crossing the South Asian Expanse by Steve Kaffen (Russia 1994-96) 2018 SK Journeys 327 pages $14.00 (paperback)   “Someday there will be an Asia without borders, one, big happy family,” was the Thai immigration official’s reply to author Steve Kaffen’s comment that this was the most relaxed international border Steve had ever crossed. The Thai official and his Malaysian counterpart had established an open border used by bicycles, vehicles, and pedestrians across the east coast’s Sungai Golok Bridge. In a further goodwill gesture, they passed Thai coconuts and Malaysian bananas to each other throughout the day. Join Steve Kaffen (Russia  1994-96) on an autobiographical journey across South Asia. Explore the region’s great historical sights, marvel at its landscapes, meet its residents in often humorous encounters, and have a succession of adventures along the way. Visit Thailand’s Mekong region and the great temples of Bagan in . . .

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Migrant Caravans and Social Justice by Mark Walker (Guatemala)

    Justice & Responsibility The Plight of the Immigrants from Central America By Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971-73)   “Migrant Caravans,” made up of large groups of children and adults from the Northern Triangle of Central America, heading to our border to seek safety and a better life is problematic, both for those coming and for those waiting for their arrival in the U.S. The influx of undocumented immigrants has reached a ten-year high, with 66,450 entering recently, according to the Customs and Border Patrol.   The existing frenzied political debate and the false narratives it often generates make it difficult, if not impossible, to turn this crisis into an opportunity to better appreciate why so many continue to seek refuge here and to understand our own role, and that of our government, in sorting out the situation, responding in a humanitarian way to those coming and creating some viable solutions to . . .

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Roland Merullo Plans One-Day Writing/Meditation Retreat (Micronesia)

    Roland Merullo (Micronesia 1979-80) best-known novels are Breakfast with Buddha, In Revere, In Those Days, A Little Love Story, Revere Beach Boulevard and the memoir Revere Beach Elegy. His first novel Leaving Losapas came out in 1992 and A Russian Requiem was published in 1993. His latest book is entitled The Delight of Being Ordinary: A Road Trip with the Pope and the Dalai Lama. Below is his September monthly newsletter in which he outlines a one-day writing/meditation retreat planned for this coming January. It is something that might interest you. • A note from Roland . . . Dear Readers and Friends, This note is being written on an absolutely perfect late summer afternoon in Western Massachusetts, with a warm sun angling in through the windows of my upstairs office and the bees, wasps, and dragonflies zipping around trying to grab the last of whatever it is they grab in this part of the world in September. Having . . .

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Martin Ganzglass (Somalia) publishes THE PRICE OF FREEDOM — #6 of a series

    About The Price of Freedom  Number 6 in the series of novels about the American Revolution by Martin R. Ganzglass (Somalia 1966–68)   The Price of Freedom is my sixth and final novel in a series on the American Revolution. The first book, Cannons for the Cause, begins in the brutal winter of 1775 when the principal character, fifteen-year-old Will Stoner and his teamster father, are engaged to haul heavy cannons from Lake George, New York to Cambridge, Massachusetts, as part of Colonel Henry Knox’s “Noble Train of Artillery.” This last novel begins after the crucial victory at Yorktown in October 1781, and ends in the summer of 1784 in liberated New York City when Patriots and former Loyalists begin to overcome their wartime differences. The underlying theme throughout the series is the important role ordinary people, including the “invisible minorities” — African Americans, women and Native Americans — played . . .

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Jonathan R. C. Green (Thailand) has published FIGHTING MALARIA ON THE RIVER KWAI

  During World War II, 12,000 Allied prisoners of war died while constructing a bridge over the river Kwai in western Thailand, and then a railway through the thick jungles of the Kwai Valley all the way to Burma. Decades later, during the Vietnam War, Jonathan R.C. Green enlisted as a medic in the U.S. Army, expecting to take care of wounded Americans and Asians, but was kept in a Stateside assignment instead, much to his frustration. So, shortly before his enlistment expired, he applied for the Peace Corps and asked to serve in Southeast Asia. Six weeks after leaving the Army, he arrived in Thailand as a Peace Corps Volunteer. His job assignment was to fight malaria by controlling the mosquito populations in remote jungle villages in the valley of the infamous River Kwai. Besides the hazards posed by snakes, scorpions and centipedes in the jungle, he ran the . . .

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New novel — UNORTHODOXY by Joshua A. N. Harris (Mali)

    Unorthodoxy by Joshua A H. Harris (Mali 1996-98) Atmosphere Press 294 pages (paperback) $15.95; (ebook) $9.95 November 2019   The surviving son of a germophobic mother, Cecil Reitmeister embraces all forms of bacteria and formulates an elaborate plan to lead humanity out of the Anthropocene and into a new era of interspecies harmony. His idiosyncratic plan requires years of experimentation and precise manipulation of his microbiome, the totality of microorganisms present in or on the human body. His mad-scientist mission leads to extreme social isolation, with the memory of his dead mother becoming his most frequent visitor. Cecil’s quest to save the world comes to a screeching halt when his social worker and the police show up to condemn the only home he has ever known. Thrown in jail for assaulting the police, Cecil soon finds himself homeless and struggles to adjust to life on the streets. When . . .

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Paulette Perhach (Paraguay) joins ‘Faculty’ of September’s Writers Workshop

    Paulette Perhach’s (Paraguay 2008-10) writings has been published in the New York Times, ELLE, Vice, Marie Claire, Yoga Journal, NPR, and Cosmopolitan. In 2015 she created the Writer’s Welcome Kit, an online course for writers that includes a 55,000-word workbook. Hugo House licenses and sells the course. Her book, which sprang from the course, was published in August 2018 by Sasquatch Books, part of the Penguin Random House publishing family. Welcome to the Writer’s Life was selected as one of Poets & Writers’ Best Books for Writers. She blogs about writing, business, personal finance and joy at welcometothewriterslife.com Paulette worked for Health and Coastal Living magazines, as well as various newspapers. Hugo House, a nationally recognized writing center in Seattle, awarded her the Made at Hugo House fellowship in 2013. In 2016, she was nominated for the BlogHer Voices of the Year award for her essay, “Fuck Off Fund,” which is anthologized in The Future is Feminist from Chronicle Books, along with work by Roxane Gay, . . .

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