Mark Walker in ELAND press writing about Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador)
Mark Walker (Guatemala 1971-73) has an essay in homage of Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador 1965-67) in the February issue of ELAND press in London.
ELAND Press follows the mantra, “Keeping the best travel writing alive” by republishing some of the best classic travel works which have been forgotten by the public. They’ve already republished Thomsen’s Living Poor and The Saddest Pleasure. Walker learned about them from Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) who informed him they were republishing The Saddest Pleasure and asked to use his introduction, which Theroux did for free in honor of Thomsen who he considers a friend and one of the best travel writers in the U.S. Other authors they’ve published include Martha Gellhorn, Hemmingway’s third wife, and an accomplished war correspondent — who met Thomsen and wrote an obituary after he passed away in 1991.
Read Walker’s essay and more in this February issue of Eland Newsletter.
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Thanks Mark for this lucid article about the namesake of my award. Working my way through his books I can find.
Yes its only fitting that the first comment from a RPCV about my homage to Moritz Thomsen would be the most recent recipient of the Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience award! Thomsen only wrote five books although I consider each one a classic for different reasons.
ELAND Press is a good place to find “Living Poor” and “Saddest Pleasure” as they hold up the best in travel writing. I found his latest/last book, Bad News from a Black Coast on Amazon, although it suffered some real limitations, it’s still one of his best. One potential publisher of my next book, Moritz Thomsen, The Best American Travel Writer No Body Else Has Heard Of., suggested that they might be interested in republishing “Bad News” so I’m hoping for an upgraded version with some of the graphics, photos and maps it deserves. Although my focus is to find a publisher for the Moritz Thomsen Reader.
When I read Moritz Thomsen’s Living Poor in 1970, it became a guidepost for my young life. Living Poor was so good that I read all the rest of Moritz’s books, as soon as they came out. Now it’s lovely to see Mark Walker’s devotion to his life and work. Moritz should be more widely read, I’m sure we both agree. He’s one of the most honest and enticing writers I know—and I look forward to more essays like this one.
Thanks John. I have no doubt that there are hundreds of other RPCVs touched by Moritz’s candid and as you put it “enticing” writing. This is one of the reasons I decided to bring together the best essays about that impact in my next book.
So the search for a publisher goes on as well for a publisher of Moritz’s last book “Bad News” which was one of his best, but needs to be upgraded in order to attract new readers.
I encourage my fellow RPCVs read Mark Walker’s essay:
Moritz Thomsen’s “Living Poor” was a guide for many PCVs assigned to living conditions far different than where we grew up.
You can also peruse Mark’s other work at :
Mark’s book “Different Latitudes” is also an absorbing travel tome as he is the most knowledgeable American writer on Guatemala that I know.
What a beautiful essay by Mark; so glad that “Peace Corps Worldwide” has re-posted it here. I second the comment above encouraging all fellow RPCVs to read what Mark has written.
As author of one of the top two Peace Corps-Ecuador memoirs of all time (har har), I’ve always been and continue to be fascinated by Thomsen — his unconventional road of life and path to literary success. (Of the hundreds of personal notes I’ve received from readers in the decade since ‘The Gringo’ was published, the one that struck me like nothing else was early on when a gentleman who’d served concurrently with Thomsen in Ecuador said the writing “would have made Moritz proud.” That note made me feel warm and fuzzy all over.) All of which is to say: I’m eagerly awaiting the day I can read Mark’s full Moritz Thomsen book.
Thomsen is a literary legend in his own right, and I hope to see his work recognized among the other greats of 20th Century travel writing, where is belongs. At the same time, I am equally hopeful that Mark Walker gets the credit HE deserves for his painstaking efforts to share more of Thomsen’s writing with the world. Bravo, Mark — it should make the entire RPCV community proud.
Thanks Grigs for the comments and your unique perspective of one of the best memoir writers of PC Ecuador–and all time!
Mark, what a great Article Thank you sharing.