Peace Corps writers

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Review — THE GRIEVER’S GROUP by Richard Wiley (Korea)
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KANSAS KALEIDOSCOPE — a novel by Mark G. Wentling (Honduras & Togo)
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“Downsizing Books” by John Coyne (Ethopia)
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THE DELCO YEARS by Bill Owens (Jamaica)
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DEAR MICHELLE, LETTERS FROM AN OLD FRIEND IN A NEW LIFE by Samuel Gerard (Ukraine)
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THE GRIEVERS’ GROUP by Richard Wiley (Korea)
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Review — NEVER THE SAME AGAIN: Life, Service and Friendship in Liberia edited by Susan Greisen, et al
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Tim Carroll (Nigeria) goes home and remembers his childhood
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RPCV Writer, Publisher & Southerner Jason P. Reed (Mongolia)
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Anthology book launch: NEVER THE SAME AGAIN: Life, Service, and Friendship in Liberia
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PLANET PALM by Jocelyn C. Zuckerman (Kenya)
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Happenstance by Lester M. Fishher (Kenya) [pen name of Lester Klungness]
13
BRIGHTEST SUN by Adrienne Benson (Nepal)
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Finding inspiration in NIGERIA — Stint in the Peace Corps results in novel 45 years later
15
Pets in Your Life by Tim Wall (Honduras)

Review — THE GRIEVER’S GROUP by Richard Wiley (Korea)

  THE GRIEVERS’ GROUP by Richard Wiley (Korea 1967-69) Stay Thirsty Press May 2022 383 pages $16.95 (Paperback), $9.99 (Kindle)   Reviewed by Kathleen Coskran (Ethiopia 1965-67) • The idea behind The Grievers’ Group is intrinsically interesting — a therapy group of five strangers who have recently lost a spouse facilitated by a quirky therapist, Pórdís Jakobsdōttir, whose only college “degree” is an honorary one from Chokkold Institute in Iceland. She conducts the therapy sessions in her simply furnished living room dominated by the imposing image of her mentor Josefine Christophersen-Hemmingsen which gives Pórdis comfort and the appearance of legitimacy. The picture never speaks, but her looming image affects everybody, especially her mentee. The story unfolds like many tales of strangers grouped together at random with some surprising twists especially when the reader learns early on that relatives of two of the grievers, Cornelius’ 14-year-old granddaughter Phoebe and LaVeronica’s son, . . .

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KANSAS KALEIDOSCOPE — a novel by Mark G. Wentling (Honduras & Togo)

  Kansas Kaleidoscope by Mark G. Wentling (Honduras (1967-69) & Togo (1970-73) Wild Lark Books August 2022 186 pages $4.99 (Kindle); $19.99 (Hardcover) • A young boy’s life in mid-20th-century America persistently and unpredictably veers off course in this novel.In many ways, 11-year-old Marky is a typical kid in 1950s Kansas. He collects baseball cards like other boys his age, goes fishing and hunting with his father, and has a good shot at winning his town’s annual turtle race. But his family is not immune to hardships. Marky and his siblings, for example, rarely see their dad, Boyd, who works the graveyard shift at an aircraft plant 30 miles away. Their mother, Gerry, is a manic-depressive; Marky adores her but is perpetually worried about her oscillating moods. After two decades of marriage and six children, Marky’s parents engage in arguments that escalate in frequency and violence. Intense fights send Gerry . . .

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“Downsizing Books” by John Coyne (Ethopia)

  When I was growing up on a farm in Illinois all six of us kids (I was the youngest) waited for the  Saturday Evening Post to arrive in Wednesday’s mail so we’d have stories to read over the weekend. After dinner, whichever of my three sisters was washing the dishes that night would prop a book up against the kitchen window so she could read as she scrubbed. Since my job was to dry, I couldn’t pull off that trick. But I loved books too, and before I learned to read, my oldest sister would read to me whatever Jane Austen or Brontē novel she had gotten from the village library. We read so many books, in fact, that soon my older siblings had gone through everything deemed “age appropriate” by the librarian, Mrs. Butterfield. So one day she refused to let my sister Eileen check out the book she’d chosen. My mother, . . .

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THE DELCO YEARS by Bill Owens (Jamaica)

  Bill Owens has written an irreverent, funny dystopian novel about a pandemic mitigated by drinking unpasteurized beer. Rich with illustrations by Italian Illustrator Francesca Cosanti, this book is a unique interactive experience. THE DELCO YEARS is the story of how a community of craft beer drinkers flourish and survive after a dystopian event. Hunting and gathering would be at Costco, Target, Home Depot, and CVS. Eventually, they would barter wine for salt, sugar, flour, and hay to feed the horses and cows. From the unhappy Bobby releasing the pandemic to the world in revenge for the televangelists’ sins to the various members of the Craft Beer community who thrive in Livermore Valley and beyond, THE DELCO YEARS is a darkly whimsical romp.  See more at THE DELCO YEARS website here: delcoyears.com. The Delco Years: A Dystopian Novel Bill  Owens (Jamaica 1964–66), Francesca Cosanti (Illustrator) Delco Years Publishing April 2022 $32.85 (paperback), $42.58 (hardcover) Bill Owens Biography Bill Owens was born on September 25, . . .

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DEAR MICHELLE, LETTERS FROM AN OLD FRIEND IN A NEW LIFE by Samuel Gerard (Ukraine)

  by Samuel Gerard (Ukraine 2018–20) (pen name of Samuel Gerard Luebbers)   Having had the chance to reflect on my Peace Corps experiences, and knowing how fickle memory can be, I felt the necessity to write them down. What became of this project was a meandering epistolary, one which I both mentally dedicated and fictionally addressed to an old friend, Michelle. We met a lifetime ago on the roof of my college freshmen dorm. We shared a long conversation then, and several others afterwards. We always imagined, to ourselves, that we would be together. I promised her that when I was ready to commit to someone, it would be her. Life has a way of getting in the way, though. I learned this alongside college’s so many other lessons. In ultimate testament to life’s effect on well-laid plans, soon after Michelle and I began dating, I received my invitation to . . .

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THE GRIEVERS’ GROUP by Richard Wiley (Korea)

  PEN/Faulkner winner Richard Wiley is one of the 21st century’s best storytellers. In his newest book, THE GRIEVERS’ GROUP, he chronicles the lives of people who have suffered great loss. One is suicidal and terribly difficult to like; another serves up stories of a lifelong series of affairs; a third won a small fortune in Las Vegas while trying to unravel the truth about his late wife; and, another caused the death of a lover – personally delivering it from the barrel of a gun. It is a wild ride with an unforgettable cast of characters whose stories Wiley unfurls with unfailing sympathy but also with his signature wit and humor. • About the Author Richard Wiley won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Washington State Governor’s Writers Award for Soldiers in Hiding and the Maria Thomas Fiction Award for Ahmed’s Revenge. He is also the recipient of the Silver Pen Award from the . . .

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Review — NEVER THE SAME AGAIN: Life, Service and Friendship in Liberia edited by Susan Greisen, et al

    Never the Same Again: Life, Service, and Friendship in Liberia Editor Susan Greisen (Liberia 1971-73) & (Tonga 1973-74) Sidekick Press May 2022 254 pages $8.99 (Kindle); $20.95 (Paperback)   Review by: D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974-76; Costa Rica 1976-77) • Kudos to editors Susan E. Greisen, Susan Corbett and Karen E. Lange for putting together a wonderful collection of true stories about Liberia, Peace Corps and friendship. The book was published in honor of the 60th anniversary of Peace Corps in Liberia. All of the authors are members of Friends of Liberia (FOL), a nonprofit originally formed by returned Peace Corps Volunteers who served in that country. There are 63 stories in all, some are poems, though the majority are prose short stories. The book includes a map of Liberia, so you can see where each author lived and worked. There is also an abridged timeline which is . . .

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Tim Carroll (Nigeria) goes home and remembers his childhood

  “I just had to live a long time,” Beloved Old Mission memories turned into children’s coloring book by Tim Carroll.   By Jessie Williams June 19, 2022   MAPLETON — As a fifth-generation Old Mission Peninsula resident, Tim Carroll has an abundance of stories about his home. “I’ve always been interested in the history of this place, and I love my roots,” Carroll said. Carroll, 83, is sharing his perspective on the Peninsula’s history in a new coloring book, Once Upon A Peninsula, which features stories from his boyhood on the Peninsula. The book, which includes coloring and other activities, features stories and pictures from the Old Mission Peninsula during Carroll’s youth. Once Upon A Peninsula was illustrated by local artist Yvette Haberlein, who previously illustrated “The Traverse City Coloring Book” project. Carroll is a regular presenter at Peninsula Community Library, hosting the monthly history-focused “Talk with Tim” program. . . .

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RPCV Writer, Publisher & Southerner Jason P. Reed (Mongolia)

  Jason P. Reed came of age in Eunice, Louisiana, in the 1980s. He studied English at what was then the University of Southwestern Louisiana in the mid 90s and worked as a technical writer in Houston after graduation, when it became apparent his masterpiece comic novel, which remains unfinished on a floppy disc somewhere, would not write itself. A short while later, he joined the Peace Corps and spent the turn of the century in Mongolia, (1999-01) having a really good time. Returning to the U.S., Jason sidestepped a historically rigorous screening process and was commissioned into the Air Force. Two decades later, he remains in the public sector, though he has long since traded in the uniform for a sport coat. Eager to accelerate into the next stage in his life, Jason started New Bayou Books in 2020 and wrote his first two novels, both set in South-Louisiana, . . .

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Anthology book launch: NEVER THE SAME AGAIN: Life, Service, and Friendship in Liberia

  AT —Busboy and Poets July 24,  5:00 pm 450 K St NW, Washington   Never the Same Again is a collection of sixty-three true stories and poems that will take you on a storytelling journey about life, service and friendship in Liberia. This anthology of enduring hope spans sixty years. Written by those of us who lived and worked in Liberia, we share heartfelt accounts of adversity and acceptance, illness and healing, and escape from war and reunion. Glimpse into everyday life in the village, classroom, and clinic where relationships were formed and lost, and many were found again. Once you read this book you will feel as we do…never the same again. Admission is free and doors open at 5 PM at the 450 K location, Davis Room. Books are available at the launch with festivities beginning at 5:30 until 6:30 P.M. with amazing slides and heartfelt readings . . .

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PLANET PALM by Jocelyn C. Zuckerman (Kenya)

  Planet Palm: How Palm Oil Ended Up in Everything–and Endangered the World by Jocelyn C. Zuckerman (Kenya 1991-93) The New Press 328 pages May 2021 $14.57 (Kindle); $21.49 (Hardcover); $18.49 (Audio CD)   Over the past few decades, palm oil has seeped into every corner of our lives. Worldwide, palm oil production has nearly doubled in just the last decade. Oil-palm plantations now cover an area nearly the size of New Zealand, and some form of the commodity lurks in half the products on U.S. grocery shelves. But the palm oil revolution has been built on stolen land and slave labor; it’s swept away cultures and so devastated the landscapes of Southeast Asia that iconic animals now teeter on the brink of extinction. Fires lit to clear the way for plantations spew carbon emissions to rival those of industrialized nations. James Beard Award–winning journalist Jocelyn C. Zuckerman spent years . . .

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Happenstance by Lester M. Fishher (Kenya) [pen name of Lester Klungness]

  A bastard boomer negotiates the maze of postwar America. Wrenched from his working single mother, and brought to Camp Pondosa by his grandfather who was Woods Manager for McCloud Rv. Lumber Co. After his WAC mother became an X-ray tech at the McCloud hospital, and acquired a husband, the new family moved to R. A. Long’s “planned city” of Longview, Washington. A shocking change for a country-bumpkin kid. He attended Catholic School in this pretentious mill town with its socially stratified culture of mill workers, overlords and timber barons. Catholic indoctrination led to the Franciscan Seminary. He survived into his 6th year at the college of San Luis Rey, CA, when love won out. This young man left the pursuit of the priestly vocation to pursue the woman he had dated since his fifteenth year. First collegiate in his family, he and his girl entered the daunting halls of . . .

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BRIGHTEST SUN by Adrienne Benson (Nepal)

An illuminating debut novel following three women in sub-Saharan Africa as they search for home and family   Leona, an isolated American anthropologist, gives birth to a baby girl in a remote Maasai village and must decide how she can be a mother, in spite of her own grim childhood. Jane, a lonely expat wife, follows her husband to the tropics and learns just how fragile life is. Simi, a barren Maasai woman, must confront her infertility in a society in which females are valued by their reproductive roles. In this affecting debut novel, these three very different women grapple with motherhood, recalibrate their identities and confront unforeseen tragedies and triumphs. In beautiful, evocative prose, Adrienne Benson brings to life the striking Kenyan terrain as these women’s lives intertwine in unexpected ways. As they face their own challenges and heartbreaks, they find strength traversing the arid landscapes of tenuous human . . .

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Finding inspiration in NIGERIA — Stint in the Peace Corps results in novel 45 years later

By DAVID JASPER The Bulletin, Bend OR Dec 26, 2019 Updated Jan 29, 2021 After Tom Wangler entered the Peace Corps as a 25-year-old in 1974, he thought he might write about his adventures in Africa. “I had full intentions of writing a book when I got back,” said Wangler, of Bend. “It took me a while.” Four decades later, Wangler has realized his dream with the publication of his first novel, Nigeria: An Ancient Secret Becomes the Adventure of a Lifetime, a thriller about a Peace Corps volunteer who goes missing while searching for a hidden oasis, triggering a desperate search and rescue mission. Inspired by events Wangler witnessed while in Africa 45 years ago, it was published earlier this month by Bend’s Dancing Moon Press. Today, Wangler serves as education program coordinator at the Oregon Youth Challenge Program, an alternative high school for at-risk youth run by the National Guard. . . .

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Pets in Your Life by Tim Wall (Honduras)

  Tim Wall  covers the dog, cat and other pet food industries as a senior reporter for WATT Global Media. His work has appeared in Live Science, Discovery News, Scientific American, Honduras Weekly, Global Journalist and other outlets. He holds a journalism master’s degree from the University of Missouri–Columbia and a bachelor’s degree in biology. By Tim Wall (Honduras 2005-07)   Pet treat companies could be one tool for economic development in the United States and around the world. For low-income individuals, small-scale pet treat production allows entrepreneurs to start with utensils they may already have or can obtain inexpensively, ingredients from the grocery store and science-based recipes. While moving into retail outlets will require that pet food entrepreneurs consider larger legal and logistical issues, a start-up pet treat company could be within reach of many. If one is going to produce pet food, they should comply with the rules for labeling, . . .

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