Peace Corps writers

1
Rob Davidson (Grenada 1990-92) Wins New Fiction Prize
2
Self-Publish Your Peace Corps Story Or Not?
3
Review: Award Winner The Baker's Boy By Barry Kitterman
4
Taking It On The Chin: Handling Literary Critics
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RPCV Mystery Writer Phillip Margolin Speaking In Central Oregon
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Former Peace Corps CD Andrew Oerke To Receive Club Of Rome Lifetime Achievement Award
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New Fiction From John Givens
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Peace Corps Writer On President's Short Summer Reading List
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New Novel by Kirsten Johnson (Kenya 1982-84)
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The Peace Corps Volunteer As A Fictional Character
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New Books By RPCV Writers
12
Review: The Peace Corps Latrine Reader
13
A Writer Writes: Holiday Obituary
14
RPCV Lipez's New Novel
15
The Barber of Mozambique–The Man Who Made Theroux A Writer

Rob Davidson (Grenada 1990-92) Wins New Fiction Prize

Rob Davidson (Grenada 1990-92), who served with his wife on the island of Carriacou, and who went onto earn his doctoral candidate in American literature at Purdue University, is the author of a collection of stories entitled Field Observations that won the Peace Corps Writers Maria Thomas Award a few years back, and he has a new honor to his credit. Camber Press just announced the winner of the first annual Camber Press Fiction Chapbook Award. It is Rob Davidson’s entry entitled “Criminals” chosen by writer Ron Carlson from among a group of unidentified submissions. Davidson, a resident of Chico, California, sets his story on the small Caribbean island of Carriacou. Our distant, academic narrator takes us to this island where goats outnumber people two to one. Natives practice grudges, judgments, stubbornness, and things are never as simple as right or wrong. More accurately, they’re about how one resolves issues within the . . .

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Self-Publish Your Peace Corps Story Or Not?

I have been writing the occasional blog about self-published books, mostly as a way of encourage people to write them, and while encouraging them to write, to suggest–urge–that they get a good editor (or 2) to work on their prose and poetry. Writing good prose is not easy and it takes a lot of work just to write one good sentence, let alone two good sentences. Lauri Anderson (Nigeria 1965-67) a creative writing professor as well as a novelist dropped me a note recently that I think adds to my discussion about self-published books. Here is what Lauri has to say: “I have read a few fine books that were self-published.  An RPCV friend at the University of Michigan Flint self-published a novel that I read from cover to cover and enjoyed.  One of my favorite travel books was self-published.  For every one such well-written self-published book there are hundreds of mediocre . . .

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Review: Award Winner The Baker's Boy By Barry Kitterman

Poet Ann Neelon teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Murray State University and edits New Madrid magazine. Here she reviews The Baker’s Boy by Barry Kitterman — winner of the 2009 Maria Thomas Peace Corps Writers Award for Fiction. • The Baker’s Boy by Barry Kitterman (Belize 1976–78) Southern Methodist University Press 2008 336 pages $22.50 Reviewed by Ann Neelon (Senegal 1978–79) In reading Barry Kitterman, I find myself rediscovering the pleasures of reading Dostoyevsky — admittedly an extravagant claim in response to a first novel. Like Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot and/or The Possessed, The Baker’s Boy constitutes a powerful work of moral imagination. Brothers Albert and Junie and their cohorts-including Broke-hand, Mouse, Snot, Milkboy, Corky, Cowboy, Whiteboy, Redboy, Bigboy, Leeboy, and Blackboy-are no choir boys, as Tanner Johnson, their teacher at the New Hope School, duly notes (this despite the fact that Albert and . . .

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Taking It On The Chin: Handling Literary Critics

I am amused when first time published writers, usually self published vanity authors, get all testy with me when their writing is criticized, even lambasted, by one of our reviewers on this site, or by yours truly. Having been in this game of writing for some forty years, with 25 plus books published, I have had my fair share (actually, more than my fair share) of bad reviews, put downs, and slam dunks from critics and good friends. This last weekend I came across a wonderful collection of put downs and slam dunks by writers. The book is entitled W.O.W.: Writers On Writing,edited by Jon Winoku and published first in 1986 by Running Press Books of Philadelphia. There are many back-and-forths about Truman Capote who really bought the acid tongues out in other writers. Everyone picked on poor Truman. Here’s a sample of some of the snide remarks that the . . .

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RPCV Mystery Writer Phillip Margolin Speaking In Central Oregon

Author and former criminal defense attorney Phillip Margolin will speak in Central Oregon. This is a piece that appeared today (September 1, 2009) in The Bulletin by David Jasper. It is an interview with  Phillip Margolin (Liberia 1966-68) one of the  more successful RPCV writers. • “Good afternoon, law offices,” says a receptionist for author Phillip Margolin, focus of Deschutes Public Library’s Celebrate Oregon Author series for the month of September. The Portland-based writer of 14 best-sellers may have stepped away from a 25-year career as an attorney back in 1996, but that didn’t mean he was going to surrender his office. “I just kept my old office,” says Margolin, 65. “I like having a place to come … to. For me, it’s nicer to have an office. There’s just a lot of stuff I do downtown. I work out downtown … take coffee breaks and snacks and lunch.” He’ll . . .

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Former Peace Corps CD Andrew Oerke To Receive Club Of Rome Lifetime Achievement Award

On November 18, 2009, Andrew Oerke (PC/Staff in Tanzania & Uganda, and CD in Malawi and Jamaica from 1966-71) will be presented with the USA Club of Rome Lifetime Achievement Awards for his latest collections of poems, Songs of Africa, published in English and Bulgarian by PSP & Fakel in Sofia, Bulgaria. The presentation will be made at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  Andrew is the 2006 winner of the Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Poetry Book. He also received the United Nations Artists and Writer’s Association award for Literature for his two volumes African Stiltdancer and San Miguel de Allende. Besides his time with the Peace Corps, Andrew worked on microcredit projects in more than 60 nations around the world. Of his poetry, noted literary critic Harold Bloom has written, “Oerke’s eye is shrewd, his mind capacious, and his generosity toward humankind is endless. His poems, whether set in Africa, . . .

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New Fiction From John Givens

John Givens (Korea 1967-69) has a story in The Mississippi Review currently online at http://www.mississippireview.com. The Mississippi Review is published by the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. The story is about a rogue samurai solving problems in the 17th century entitled, “The Buddha-nature of the House: John is from Northern California and earned his BA in English literature at the California State University Fresno and his MFA in creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, University of Iowa, where he was a Teaching/Writing Fellow. [John is one of many fine Peace Corps writers who attended the famous Iowa writing program. The RPCV writers include Phil Damon (Ethiopia 1963-65), who, I believe, was the first RPCV in the program,  Richard  Wiley (Korea 1967-69),  and most recently Matt Davis (Mongolia 2001-03).]  Afterwards John studied language and art in Kyoto for four years, then worked as a writer & editor in Tokyo for . . .

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Peace Corps Writer On President's Short Summer Reading List

RPCV Kent Haruf’s (Turkey 1965-67) novel, Plainsong is one of the five books the President is reading this summer. The book is described on the jacket as a masterful detailing of unsettled lives, bound by their windswept town and landscape — “their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant.” Slate’s political writer, John Dickerson,  “analyzed” the list and said that Haruf’s book was the only one that showed “geographical and literary diversity.” The other four books are: The Way Home, by George Pelecanos Hot, Flat and Crowded, by Tom Friedman Lush Life, by Richard Price John Adams, by David McCullough

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The Peace Corps Volunteer As A Fictional Character

From the first days of the agency, Peace Corps Volunteers have been rich characters for novels not written by PCVs. The first books about the Peace Corps were young adult novels. In 1963, Breaking the Bonds: A Novel about the Peace Corps, written by Sharen Spence, had a short introduction by Sargent Shriver and was dedicated to “All Peace Corps Volunteers serving the world with discipline, determination, endurance, and a rare idealism.” This novel is set in Nigeria. Then in 1965 came a series of young adult novels entitled Kathy Martin: Peace Corps Nurse, about a Volunteer in Africa. Another “nursing novel” for a YA audience was written by Rachel G. Payes and published by Avalon Books in 1967. In 1968 came the most well known of all “Peace Corps novels,” The Zinzin Road, by the very successful commercial novelist and political writer, Fletcher Knebel, who worked briefly as a Peace . . .

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New Books By RPCV Writers

Allah’s Garden Thomas Hallowell (Morocco) Tales Press 198 pages March 2009   The 38 Million Dollar Smile by Richard Stevenson (aka Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) mlrpress September 2009   Four Corners: The Vineyards and Wineries of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado By Starley Talbott (South Africa, 2001) Plainstar Press 2009 Trade Paperback $24.95   San Francisco Tenderloin true stories of heroes, demons, angels, outcasts & a psychotrherapist (Expanded Second Edition) by Larry Wonderling (PC/COR Puerto Rico 1968-70; Afghanistan 1970-73; early ’80s Central and Latin America; late ’80s Africa) Cape Foundation Publications, $24.95 408 pages 2008   Portrait of a Peace Corps Gringo By Paul Arfin (Colombia 1963-65) Self-Published, $17.99 356 pages 2009 paularfin@gmail.com La Ranfla and other New Mexico Stories By Martha Egan (Venezuela 1967-69) Papalote Press, $24.95 200 pages 2009 www.papalotepress.com Rock Worn by Water (Poems) By Florence Chard Dacey (Nigeria 1963-65) Plain View Press, $14.20 77 pages . . .

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Review: The Peace Corps Latrine Reader

Americans Do Their Business Abroad The Peace Corps Latrine Reader (A collection of essays by RPCVs) edited by Jake Fawson (Gabon 2000–02) and Steve McNutt (Gabon 2000–02) Other Places Publishing December 2008 $16.95 Reviewed by Travis Leger (East Timor (2005–06) reviews the our site. I submitted to this book when Fawson and McNutt put out their request for stories. I had just returned from East Timor, though prematurely. We were the last group there before they evacuated the entire program. I submitted a story about our adopted dog when she was in heat and one of her lovers, Stubby.  And since the editors didn’t choose it I am going to use this opportunity to publish it here: Stubby We called the dog Stubby. I don’t even remember its real name. It was our neighbor’s and it barked at us incessantly.  We had just moved into the house, a small, two-bedroom . . .

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A Writer Writes: Holiday Obituary

Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) has self-published a number of travel books since returning from Honduras. The following piece is from a collection of stories that he will publish soon. In the preface, Larry writes, “Sometimes life offers delicious experiences when least expected. These stories were born in such circumstances a quarter of a century ago, shortly after returning home following five years south of the frontera. Studying art at a local junior college, I was fascinated by students who set up easels in art museums and tried to recreate masterpieces stroke for stroke. This led to my own experiment; to write my own stories while emulating the styles of my favorite authors. “Today it seems blasphemous to mention their names when referring to my efforts. However, it is worth mentioning that the exercise offered me an opportunity to be as crazy as I wanted to be. Heck, one of . . .

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RPCV Lipez's New Novel

Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) reviews a new novel by Dick Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) who writes under the pseudonym of Richard Stevenson. The book is entitled, The 38 Million Dollar Smile, and is published by MLR Press. It comes out in September. • If you are looking for a page-turner this Indian Summer, The 38 Million Dollar Smile could be the book. The latest mystery in the Don Strachey series, this book describes the search for a rich American who disappeared in Thailand with his portion of a family fortune ($38 million). Told in first person, filled with slang in the mystery novel format, the story offers the unexpected, as do the previous Don Strachey books. Don Strachey is a gay private detective. In this particular book, he is chosen to search for the missing American by his ex-wife because the missing man was also gay. She believes that the . . .

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The Barber of Mozambique–The Man Who Made Theroux A Writer

[I am not sure where I found this short piece by Theroux, but it says it all about him, and why he is such a great writer.] I remember a particular day in Mozambique, in a terrible little country town, getting a haircut from a Portuguese barber. He had come to the African bush from rural Portugal to be a barber. . . . This barber did not speak English, I did not speak Portuguese, yet when I addressed his African servant in Chinyanja, his own language, the Portuguese man said in Portuguese, ‘Ask the bwana what his Africans are like.’ And that was how we held a conversation – the barber spoke Portuguese to the African, who translated it into Chinyanja for me; and I replied in Chinyanja, which the African kept translating into Portuguese for the barber. The barber kept saying – and the African kept translating – . . .

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