Peace Corps writers

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RPCV Carol Beddo Wins Gold!
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Readjustment Blues
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In South Africa as a PCV
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RPCV Meyer Featured in New York Review of Books
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RPCV Tayler Travels the Back Roads to Beijing
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Down on the Farm (pun intended)
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Brazaitis Speaks Many Languages
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Back on the Farm
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First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria
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Our Man in Romania

RPCV Carol Beddo Wins Gold!

Carol Beddo’s memoir essay, “Choices Rejected” was awarded Gold in the category: Love Story, the best account of love or romance on the road.  It is published in Best Travel Writing 2009, an annual collection of travel essays published by Traveler’s Tales and is a chapter from a book in progress about her Peace Corps years in Ethiopia, 1964-66. Congratulatons Carol! Carol is writing this book with her young grandchildren in mind, with hope that they will be inspired to contribute time and skills that will help to improve our world; however her six-year-old grandson now is annoyed that his little sister makes an appearance in this story, while he does not. 

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Readjustment Blues

This is a terrific piece by Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) published in Rice Paper, the China PCVs in-country newsletter that is put out by the PCVs, and was sent to me by a PCV named Dustin Ooley. This article by Hessler appears in Vol 4, No 2. Thanks to Dustin and Peter for letting me reprint it. It is a useful case study of how to make one’s way as a  writer, and how hard it to be an RPCV and a writer, but it can be done, and what Peter has also described is how the members of that first group of PCVs to China continue to be connected to the country. And it is written as only Peter can do it, with humor, honesty and insight. Post-Peace Corps Life by Peter Hessler After completing my Peace Corps service, I left China with amoebic dysentery, a mysterious problem with my lefteye, a positive . . .

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In South Africa as a PCV

BOOK REVIEW Nine out of ten “Peace Corps Books” are self-published. The reason — while the Peace Corps experience is life-changing and many RPCVs want everyone to know about their service, in most cases no commercial, small or academic presses are interested in publishing their stories. The good news is that because of self-publishing RPCVs can take matters into their own hands. Here’s one woman’s story of being a PCV in South Africa. Lasso the World: A Western Writer’s Tales of Folks Around the Globe By Starley Talbott (South Africa 2001) Plainstar Press 2004 Reviewed by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras, 1975–77) Lasso the World is a clearly written series of time resilient vignettes covering four of the seven continents. Written over a quarter century as newspaper and magazine articles, the compilation reads fresh like the desert in bloom. Starley (Anderson) Talbott, self-taught journalist, has stitched together a beautiful comforter for . . .

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RPCV Meyer Featured in New York Review of Books

The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed by Michael Meyer (China 1995–97) is the one of three books cited by Richard Bernstein, a former Time Magazine correspondent in China, in a long essay/review entitled “The Death and Life of a Great Chinese City” in The New York Review of Books, March 26, 2009 issue. After his Peace Corps tour, Mike Meyer spent three years living in a single room of an old courtyard house, using a public toilet and a public bath and out of this has come his fascinating portrait of life in a narrow backstreet of Beijing that vanished to make way for the Olympics Games. Bernstein makes the point that Michael is “no sentimentalist or preservationist ideologue. He writes, “It can’t be forgotten that life is a lot better for most people in the new Beijing, but then he . . .

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RPCV Tayler Travels the Back Roads to Beijing

BOOK REVIEW Murderers in Mausoleums: Riding the Back Roads of Empire Between Moscow and Beijing by Jeffrey Tayler (Morocco 1988-90; PC/Staff Poland 1992, Uzbekistan 1992-93) Houghton Mifflin 2009 Reviewed by Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) As SARS crippled Beijing in 2003, a handful of fellow former Peace Corps China volunteers and I waited out the weeks with bad red wine and the fear that comes from being thirty and far from home, uncertain how to continue freelance writing when editors stopped buying stories that were not about the virus and its cover-up. The Moscow-based Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Tayler provided unexpected succor then; we passed around his forward to Facing the Congo, a small masterpiece of an essay on existential angst and the desire to achieve something as a writer by age thirty-three — “the age of Christ!” according to the Russian saying. He accepted the challenge, and then some, setting off in . . .

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Down on the Farm (pun intended)

BOOK REVIEW Dominic Cibrario (Nepal 1962-64) is one of the many RPCVs who are publishing their novels as PODs. He sent it to me a few months ago and I’m happy to be able to showcase Tucker Clark who also served in Nepal, review the novel about farm life in Wisconsin. Secrets of the Family Farm by Dominic Cibrario (Nepal 1962-64) Booksurge, 2008 Reviewed by W. Tucker Clark (Nepal 1967-70) It was puzzling to me why John Coyne asked me to review this book. It was written by someone I had never heard of from the first Peace Corps Volunteer to Nepal. I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about writers, particularly about India and the Peace Corps (thanks to this wonderful webizine), but Dominic Cibrario was new to me. I recently found myself too busy with the Presidential race to start Dominic Cibrario’s self-published paperback, but I knew I had to . . .

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Brazaitis Speaks Many Languages

BOOK REVIEW Mark Brazaitis who is an award winning short story writer as well as a fine novelist also writes poetry, and here another award winning RPCV poet, Phil Dacey, writes a review of Mark’s latest collection. The Other Language: Poems by Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala, 1991–93) ABZ Poetry Press 2009 Reviewed by Philip Dacey (Nigeria 1963–65) I wish Mark Brazaitis had been chosen to present the Presidential inaugural poem instead of Elizabeth Alexander, whose lackluster effort probably won few converts to poetry and disappointed most poets I know.  Brazaitis, on the other hand, would have told a story rich in character and resplendent with language that while familiar — not straining to be poetic — nevertheless rose to the level of memorable song, precisely what was needed on January 20th.  As he writes at the very end of the book: “I don’t know her nor she me. / Today this . . .

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Back on the Farm

BOOK REVIEW A few years ago Professor of Economics at George Mason University,  Carrie Meyer, went home to the Midwest and stumbled upon a cardboard box of diaries kept by her grandmother. She turned them into a history lesson, love letter, and wonderful story. Days on the Family Farm: From the Golden Age to the Great Depression by Carrie A. Meyer (Dominican Republic 1980–83) University of Minnesota Press 2007 Reviewed by M. Susan Hundt-Bergan (Ethiopia 1966-68) In 2000, Carrie Meyer’s family stumbled upon a cardboard box of diaries in their grandmother’s attic in Guilford Township, Illinois.  Most of these diaries were kept by May Lyford Davis, their grandfather’s cousin’s wife, about her life on the very farm where Carrie Meyer had grown up.  Out of these diary notations, Ms. Meyer, an economist at George Mason University, has crafted the story of May and Elmo Davis, their lives and that of . . .

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First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria

BOOK REVIEW First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria:  How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life written by Eve Brown-Waite (Ecuador 1988) generated a publisher’s bidding war and an advance of six-figures. If nothing else, it proved that a Peace Corps book (other than one by Paul Theroux) could make money. It is reviewed here (before publication) by Jan Worth-Nelson (Tonga 1976–78) who didn’t get malaria in Tonga when she was a PCV, but who eventually married the man she first met as a PCV, and who wrote a great mystery novel about a murder in the Peace Corps, a tale out of Tonga, entitled, Night Blind. First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life By Eve Brown-Waite (Ecuador 1988-89) EveBrownWaite.com Broadway Books 2009 Reviewed by . . .

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Our Man in Romania

For almost two years Andy Trincia was ‘our man in Romania’ writing charming “Letters From . . .” for the Peace Corps Writers web site from 2002–04. He finished his tour, married his lovely HCN, and came back to the US, only to return again and again to his wife’s family’s village in the heart of Transylvania. Here is a lovely piece of prose that proves you can go home again to your Peace Corps site . . . Going Home to Mama Ana’s Păuca Several peasants stopped working the fields and waved as we pulled into Păuca, a colorful Romanian village in the heart of Transylvania.  Mama Ana’s “kids” were back from America, they noticed, eager to spread word across the little village faster than wild fire. As picturesque as any of the scores of villages I’ve seen across the region, Păuca is a typical Romanian hamlet, inhabited by . . .

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