Peace Corps writers

1
Craig Storti (Morocco) — THE HUNT FOR MT. EVEREST
2
Grab Your Reader by the Throat
3
Kate Mangino (Togo) EQUAL PARTNERS: Improving Gender Equality at Home
4
BEYOND THE ROAD TO SINYEA by Ann Hales (Liberia)
5
Review — THE BAD ANGEL BROTHERS by Paul Theroux (Malawi)
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EPITAPH by Carolyn Ladelle Bennett (Sierra Leone)
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THE MOUNTIAN AND THE SEA by Ray Nayler (Turkmenistan)
8
Why You Should Write a Memoir by Evelyn LaTorre (Peru)
9
DRAYTON HALL STORIES by George W. McDaniel (Togo)
10
BALLET ORPHANS by Terez Mertes Rose (Gabon)
11
A conversation with novelist Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)
12
New novel | BIX by Stephen Foehr (Ethiopia)
13
FOREVER TRAVELING HOME by Regina D. Landor (Macedonia, Romania)
14
When Christ Stopped At Eboli
15
THE BAD ANGEL BROTHERS — new from Paul Theroux (Malawi)

Craig Storti (Morocco) — THE HUNT FOR MT. EVEREST

  The height of Mt. Everest was first measured in 1850, but the closest any westerner got to Everest during the next 71 years — until 1921 — was 40 miles. The Hunt for Mt. Everest tells the story of the 71-year quest to find the world’s highest mountain. It’s a tale of high drama, of larger-than-life characters — George Everest, Francis Younghusband, George Mallory, Lord Curzon, Edward Whymper, and a few quiet heroes: Alexander Kellas, the 13th Dalai Lama, and Charles Bell. It is a story that traverses the Alps, the Himalayas, Nepal and Tibet, the British Empire (especially British India and the Raj), the Anglo-Russian rivalry known as The Great Game, the disastrous First Afghan War, and the phenomenal Survey of India — it is far bigger than simply the tallest mountain in the world. Encountering spies, war, political intrigues, and hundreds of mules, camels, bullocks, yaks, and two zebrules, . . .

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Grab Your Reader by the Throat

  by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64)   I am a great believer in writing an opening sentence or opening paragraph that hooks the readers and keeps them reading. Writing have change from when a writer could move leisurely into a tale and keep the attention of a reader with long narrative and descriptive sentences. Anytime you are anywhere — glance around — you’ll see people reaching for their iphone, checking messages, national news, or just the weather. No one, it seems, has the time or patience to read anything longer than an email. Today, no reader wants to turn a page of prose unless the next page is promising more surprises. Readers want what they’re reading to be fast, funny, or forget it. Here is what I mean. I have written these openings to  grab the reader by the throat and keep him or her reading. This is a short . . .

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Kate Mangino (Togo) EQUAL PARTNERS: Improving Gender Equality at Home

  From gender expert and professional facilitator Kate Mangino comes Equal Partners, an informed guide about how we can all collectively work to undo harmful gender norms and create greater household equity. As American society shut down due to Covid, millions of women had to leave their jobs to take on full-time childcare. As the country opens back up, women continue to struggle to balance the demands of work and home life. Kate Mangino, a professional facilitator for twenty years, has written a comprehensive, practical guide for readers and their partners about gender norms and household balance. Yes, part of our gender problem is structural, and that requires policy change. But much of our gender problem is social, and that requires us to change. Quickly moving from diagnosis to solution, Equal Partners focuses on what we can do, everyday people living busy lives, to rewrite gender norms to support a balanced homelife so . . .

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BEYOND THE ROAD TO SINYEA by Ann Hales (Liberia)

   A Peace Corps Memoir — 1981–1983   When a young woman strides into her dream adventure as a Peace Corps Volunteer, she gets more that she bargained for — the experience transforms her life. As nursing instructor in Liberia, West Africa, in the early 1980s, she witnesses gut-wrenching life circumstances of the Liberian people and their systems of education and health care. While living in a traditional village, she discovers that her neighbors believe she has magical pawers, encounters the “devil” from the Secret Bush Society, and finds “family” when she least expected to do so. This deeply personal memoir is filled with stories of West African life as seen firsthand throughout the eyes of a person who wanted to make a difference in the world. The author revisits her younger self with compassion and curiosity, conveying to readers an understanding of culture clash and the helplessness anyone might . . .

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Review — THE BAD ANGEL BROTHERS by Paul Theroux (Malawi)

  The Bad Angel Brothers by Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65)) ‎Mariner Books Publisher ‎352 pages September 2022 $14.99 (Kindle); $26.09 (Hardcover), $22.35 or 1 credit (Audiobook) Reviewed by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971-73) • Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) is probably the most prolific of the Returned Peace Corps writers, with 33 works in fiction and 53 books overall. As with his latest book, I wasn’t enthusiastic about reading it, as I prefer his nonfiction travel stories. But just as was the case reading the life of the aging surfer in Hawaii in Under the Wave of Waimae (2021), he does a stellar job developing the characters in this psychological thriller. This most recent book is a classic tale of a dysfunctional family. A younger brother’s rivalry with his older brother, Frank, a domineering brother and a well-known lawyer in their small community in Massachusetts. Frank also has a propensity to come up with . . .

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EPITAPH by Carolyn Ladelle Bennett (Sierra Leone)

  A nation dying of self-inflicted mental and moral wounds turns rabid-extremist. Leadership crippled by corruption, moral impairment, physical and mental decay, capable of nothing other than the same old thing, flails and destroys and in cowardice (likened to an infant, but powered by lethal partners), ducks responsibility and blames a made-for-the-occasion “enemy.” America’s leadership class of kleptocrats, gerontocrats, incestuous hangers-on and clingers to Washington’s revolving door are the American (anachronistic, anarchist, nihilist) extremists. They create and feed on global and national crises; and spawn America’s weakness, unpreparedness, and loss of common defense. Their age must end. Epitaph returns to the framers of the American Union, lays out the nature of present-day American extremism with critical evidence from distant headlines and information sources and context of world thinkers — originating far beyond the Washington Beltway. The work ends with advisory notes to youth, and notes toward forming a “More Perfect . . .

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THE MOUNTIAN AND THE SEA by Ray Nayler (Turkmenistan)

  Humankind discovers intelligent life in an octopus species with its own language and culture, and sets off a high-stakes global competition to dominate the future. Rumors begin to spread of a species of hyperintelligent, dangerous octopus that may have developed its own language and culture. Marine biologist Dr. Ha Nguyen, who has spent her life researching cephalopod intelligence, will do anything for the chance to study them. The transnational tech corporation DIANIMA has sealed the remote Con Dao Archipelago, where the octopuses were discovered, off from the world. Dr. Nguyen joins DIANIMA’s team on the islands: a battle-scarred security agent and the world’s first android. The octopuses hold the key to unprecedented breakthroughs in extrahuman intelligence. The stakes are high: there are vast fortunes to be made by whoever can take advantage of the octopuses’ advancements, and as Dr. Nguyen struggles to communicate with the newly discovered species, forces . . .

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Why You Should Write a Memoir by Evelyn LaTorre (Peru)

  by Evelyn LaTorre ( Peru 1964-66)   Face it. You’re not getting any younger. Once you’re gone, your stories won’t be there the way only you can tell them—unless they’re written down. Do it now. One never knows when one’s faculties might fade. Write a scene about one of the many tales you’ve often given voice to about the time you “did such-and-such and then …” Those memories are important to put on paper or store in your computer while you can still recall them. Look at a few old photos or listen to music you loved to resurrect forgotten feelings and the memories will come flooding back. “So who cares about what I have to say?” you may ask. Maybe your family will. Or maybe they won’t. But do it anyway. Leaving a record of your life while you’re still kickin’ will do more than prove you existed. . . .

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DRAYTON HALL STORIES by George W. McDaniel (Togo)

  George W. McDaniel (Togo 1968-70) has writing a new portrayal of this 18th-century icon among America’s historic sites, Drayton Hall Stories: A Place and Its People is the first book in the nation to focus on a site’s recent history using interviews with descendants (both White and Black), board members, staff, donors, architects, historians, preservationists, tourism leaders, and more. Like different pieces of a mosaic, each interview combines with others to create an engaging picture of this one place, revealing never-before-shared family moments, major decisions in preservation and site stewardship, and pioneering efforts to transform a Southern plantation into a site for racial conciliation. Readers will come to see Drayton Hall’s people not as stereotypes, but as the real people they were — and are. Maps, photographs, lines of descent, interview questions, a how-to guide, and related website, all provide blueprints for readers who wish to undertake similar endeavors to build . . .

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BALLET ORPHANS by Terez Mertes Rose (Gabon)

  Ballet Orphans: A Prequel (Ballet Theatre Chronicles: Book 3) by Terez Mertes Rose (Gabon 1985-87) Classical Girl Press January 2021 375 pages $12.99 (Paperback), $2.99 (Kindle)   Terez writes: I am the author of Off Balance and Outside the Limelight ( 2015, 2016), A Dancer’s Guide to Africa (2018) and Ballet Orphans (Jan 2021). A former Peace Corps volunteer and ballet dancer, my writing has appeared in numerous publications, including the Crab Orchard Review, Women Who Eat (Seal Press), A Woman’s Europe (Travelers’ Tales), Literary Mama, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Jose Mercury News.  I review ballet performances for Bachtrack.com and blog about ballet and classical music at The Classical Girl. I make my home in the Santa Cruz Mountains with my husband and son. I love humor, hiking, an engrossing book, and a nice glass of red.”      

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A conversation with novelist Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

Thanks for the “heads up” from Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971–73)   Nicholas Litchfield interviewed RPCV Mark Jacobs Lowestoft Chronicle, Issue 51 September, 2022 In spite of a lengthy government career requiring extensive travel and prolonged stays overseas, ever since the 1980s, Mark Jacobs has managed to forge a successful dual occupation as a writer of fiction. His enviable body of work includes critically-acclaimed novels and story collections lauded by illustrious authors and editors like Robert Olen Butler and C. Michael Curtis. For decades, his stories have appeared regularly in dozens of commercial and literary magazines, sometimes featured in leading newspapers like The Washington Post and The New York Times. In this exclusive interview with Lowestoft Chronicle, Jacobs discusses his publication history, from significant mentors and literary influences to early writing accomplishments and the media frenzy that accompanied one of his short stories. • Lowestoft Chronicle (LC): Over a span of 40+ years, you’ve had . . .

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New novel | BIX by Stephen Foehr (Ethiopia)

  BIX: Because I eXist by Stephen Foehr (Ethiopia 1965-66) Foehr & Son Publisher 286 pages August 2022 $0.00 (Kindle); $8.99 (Paperback)   Five characters explore how to resist an authoritarian government without being beaten, imprisoned, or killed. Socrates, former gang leader and ex-con, uses lesson learned on the street and in prison: When outmaneuvered and outgunned, outsmart your opponent. Isabel, community do-gooder, takes her experience as the widow of a Mafia hitman: When under attack, develop a network of allies, and be sly. Aster, wanna-be firebrand, advocates to use force against force. Hank, first-generation Asian-American tries to be useful to all sides, without compromising his personal integrity. Lativia espouses the radical approach that Mass Kindness be the guiding principle of social, economic, and political policies.  

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FOREVER TRAVELING HOME by Regina D. Landor (Macedonia, Romania)

  Disheartened by staying with a man she loves but who doesn’t want children, the author makes a complete life-change and joins the Peace Corps. Living in rural Macedonia with a host family she feels she’s known all her life, this is her ticket to heal – until an imminent civil war forces an evacuation of country’s Peace Corps Volunteers. Determined to stay her course, the author relocates to Romania where she ends up meeting her future mate. Now settled in the States, married and with children, her husband gets hired to move back overseas. The author braves the emotional and physical challenges of moving from her quiet, midwestern town back to Eastern Europe, this time with kids. Narrated with intimacy and humor, the author overcomes unexpected obstacles and decides that the risks of leaving, and the pangs of saying goodbye are unequivocally worth it in the end. • Forever . . .

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When Christ Stopped At Eboli

by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) (First published in Dec 13 2009)   The other weekend when visiting a small used bookstore appropriately named the BookBarn in rural Columbia County in upstate New York, several miles from where we have a weekend home, I spotted on a shelf in this low ceiling cluttered store a copy of Carlo Levi’s Christ Stopped At Eboli. It is a book that I haven’t seen in some forty plus years, in fact since I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia. This book was one of appropriately 75 paperbacks that Sarge Shriver and the first administration of the Peace Corps put together in a portable ‘booklocker’ for Volunteers. The books were to be read and left in country, to become seeds for new libraries in the developing world where we were serving. The used copy I found in the Bookbarn was a later edition, a TIME Reading Program Special Edition, first published in . . .

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THE BAD ANGEL BROTHERS — new from Paul Theroux (Malawi)

  From Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-64) comes a brilliant new novel of chilling psychological depth, the tale of a younger brother whose lifelong rivalry with his older brother—a powerful lawyer with a pattern of gleefully vicious betrayals—culminates in the ultimate plan: murder. Cal has always lived in the shadow of his manipulative and domineering brother, Frank, who was doted upon by their mother and beloved by the girls in their small New England hometown—including Cal’s own girlfriends. In an attempt to escape Frank’s intrusive presence, Cal pursues a different kind of freedom in the world’s wild spaces, prospecting for gold and precious minerals everywhere from the heat of the desert at the Mexican border to the Alaskan chill, to central Africa, and Colombian mines where he will meet the love of his life, Vida. Soon he is dripping in wealth, his pockets full of gold nuggets and emeralds, but the . . .

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