Peace Corps writers

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Discovering a New RPCV Writer
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Talking with Eve Brown-Waite, Part Five
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Talking with Eve Brown-Waite, Part Four
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Talking with Eve Brown-Waite, Part Three
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Talking with Eve Brown-Waite, Part Two
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Talking with Eve Brown-Waite
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REVIEWS: Peace Corps Memoirs Of Turkey
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You and Your Peace Corps History
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RPCV Bill Owens: Five Decades of Photography
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RPCV David Taylor's Soul Of A People

Discovering a New RPCV Writer

The nice thing about this blog is that I get word of new RPCV writers. Here is a writer who has been under the radar of PeaceCorpsWriters: John Shannon (Malawi 1968-71). John has written nine “Jack Liffey” mysteries and four other novels, including Courage, the story of a disillusioned American Communist who goes to Africa to help foment a revolution. This novel came out of his Peace Corps experience and left him a “prohibited immigrant” in Malawi for over a decade. His 11 California mysteries are about Jack Liffey “a decent guy, as compassionate as he is brave.  His city is greater LA, his turf the forgotten suburbs, run-down neighborhoods and volatile ethnic communities. “Jack Liffey understands loss.  First he lost his job in the  aerospace industry, then he lost his wife and daughter.  All he really has left is his ability to track down missing children, and his willingness to elbow his . . .

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Talking with Eve Brown-Waite, Part Five

[Ellen]: What primarily occupies your time now? [Eve]: You mean, besides nearly non-stop promotion and marketing of First Comes Love? Well, I’ve got two children I’m trying to usher safely (and without too much trauma) through middle school and high school.  I’m trying to write a second (third and fourth…) book.  I do lots of volunteer work: I’m on the Board of Directors and Development Committee of the National Priorities Project; I do fundraising for our local domestic violence agency; I serve on a crisis response team; and I volunteer one day a week and am helping to create a fundraising arm for our local food pantry.  I also do freelance proofreading and copy editing when it comes my way.  Oh and I’m an ordained minister and occasionally preside over weddings and funerals. [Ellen]: Which authors do you most admire?  Whose works served as models for you as you were . . .

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Talking with Eve Brown-Waite, Part Four

[Ellen]: My experience bears out that those Americans who most successfully navigate overseas tours are those who lose their Americanized perspective quickly; the ones who normalize their new experiences and environment without making regular comparisons to what they left behind.  The writings of such people often detail a fascinating “deconstruction”-at the extreme end of the spectrum personalities can unravel as people “go native” (think eminent Peace Corps author Paul Theroux’s main character in Mosquito Coast); at the modest end of the spectrum, others (your husband John being a prime example) immediately and humbly accept a new version of normal. Your writing is notable for featuring the opposite effect:  It details your persistent U.S.-centric point of view even after substantial time abroad. For instance, even late in the book, after four years living overseas (three in Uganda, one in Ecuador) you describe hearing gunfire in the night, huddling in your hallway, and . . .

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Talking with Eve Brown-Waite, Part Three

Though Eve answered not a single one of the fourteen questions I’d posed to her, I have to admit to being remarkably impressed with her gentility. Instead of slamming the door in my face, which a haughtier person might have done, she simply refused to walk through it. The conversation remained more-or-less open, as long as it went in a different direction. Which, in fact, it did. At least for me.  I turned it on my writer friends — showed them her book, read them my interview questions, and invited the conversation that I now bring to this forum: What kind of boundaries can we/should we/may we erect around our private lives if we willingly — and for profit — make ourselves and our experiences part of the public sector? I eventually talked Eve into answering three of those original fourteen questions (full text follows), and trust that despite our . . .

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Talking with Eve Brown-Waite, Part Two

Now I love hyperbole as much as the next person.  In fact, I live by the mantra that if a story is worth spinning, it’s worth spinning wildly.  However, as a world traveler, and as an RPCV, I’ve seen real hostage crises (a term not simply adopted by Eve’s publisher for promotional purposes, but one which she herself coins).  Because I have witnessed the attendant terror, brutality, and emotional havoc caused by such horrors, it riles me to hear someone claim solidarity with such suffering because she had to stay inside her home, cozied up on the sofa, watching TV a little longer than planned one evening.  “Hostage” isn’t, in my estimation, a title to wear flippantly — and certainly not for attention — (or sales — ) gathering purposes.  But I found that the line between serious and frivolous was crossed in this book very, very often. I wanted . . .

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Talking with Eve Brown-Waite

Last month Eve Brown-Waite published her memoir: First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won my Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed my Life. The book sold for a six figure advance and caught the attention of all of us who write for a living or write to make sense of our Peace Corps years, or who just write. Here is Ellen’s interview. It is long so I’ll post it over the next few days in chunks of prose. •  •  • An interview by Ellen Urbani Let me be clear about something right up front:  I begged John Coyne to let me interview Eve Brown-Waite.  I’d heard about her success marketing her book (who didn’t?) and danced a happy jig on her behalf, marred only briefly by my efforts to subdue the fast flush of envy (who wouldn’t?).  She and I had much in . . .

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REVIEWS: Peace Corps Memoirs Of Turkey

Dr. David Espey (Morocco 1962-64) recently retired from the English Department at the University of Pennsylvania. He has not, however, retired from teaching and writing. David just finished a year as a visiting professor in Istanbul, where he had also previously taught on a Fulbright. (His other Fulbrights were to Morocco and Japan.) David is  the editor of Writing the Journey: Essays, Stories, and Poems on Travel published by Longman, and over the years has written extensively on travel writing. We are pleased to publish an essay by Dr. Espey on three memories by RPCVs who served in Turkey: Turkey: Bright Sun, Strong Tea [Travel Info Exchange 2005] by Tom Brosnahan (Turkey 1967–69); Village in the Meadows [Citlembik/Nettleberry Publications 2007] by Malcolm Pfunder (Turkey 1965–67); and An Ongoing Affair: Turkey and I [Citlembik/Nettleberry Publications 2008] by Heath W. Lowry (Turkey 1965–67). • • • Three Memoirs of Turkey Three books by Peace Corps Volunteers in Turkey return to the 1960s when . . .

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You and Your Peace Corps History

Susan Meadows Luccini (Ghana 1961–63) is a personal historian. Since her very early days in the Peace Corps, with the first group of PCVs, she has been a high school and university English teacher and writing coach, as well as a publisher.  She has worked as a writer, editor and proofreader. Besides all that, she has translated a number of books for children as well as several dealing with art, archaeology and history from Italian to English. Today she runs SML Publishing that she started in 2005. This a s perfect job for Susan as it combines her “skills,  wit, personal strengths and inclinations.” She has had a lifelong interest in people, in their stories and in the process by which memories are retained. We asked Susan to write us a short article about the importance of writing your Peace Corps story. • • • You And Your Peace Corps . . .

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RPCV Bill Owens: Five Decades of Photography

Bill Owens, our most famous RPCV photographer, whose new book  entitled Bill Owens came out last year, and who is internationally known for his book Suburbia, has a new exhibition in his hometown of Hayward, California opening on April 17. This exhibition is the first to feature Bill’s photographs from the Peace Corps in the sixties to the Rolling Stones at Altamont all the way to his newest video work. The exhibition will be up until June 18, 2009 and the opening reception is from 6:30 to 9:30 pm on Friday, April 17. For more information, go to info@photocentral.org.

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RPCV David Taylor's Soul Of A People

David Taylor (Mauritania 1983-85) author of the recently published Soul of a People: The WPA Writers’ Project Uncovers Depression America, will be part of a book discussion at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, April 28, 2009, in the Mumford Room in the Madison Building of the Library of Congress. The discussion begins at 3 p.m. This is an important book by an important RPCV writer and this library event will include screening of scenes from the Soul of a People TV documentary, to be broadcast late this summer.

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