In three recent issues The New Yorker has featured Peace Corps writers. All of them writing from different modes of prose.
Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) published a brilliant new short story, then Norm Rush (CD Botswana 1978-83) a telling piece on trying to be a writer on “Work for Hire,” and George Packer (Togo 1982-83) in the October 28th issue, an article entitled “Business as Usual” that begins, and says it all with: “House Republicans have suffered a huge tactical defeat of their own devising. But in a larger sense the Republicans are winning, and have been for the past three years, if not the past thirty. On economic-policy matters they are setting the terms.“
Back to Norm Rush’s short essay on labor. His labor. It starts with:
“Surveying my motley history of impromptu efforts to make money, I see something like a vast mural by Hieronymus Bosch in which all the victim characters distributed across the terrain of Hell are me. Many of my employers were decent people. Some were demons, but mostly my discomforts came from the nature of the work itself. After college, and after I had determined on being a writer, my choices of stopgap employment were shaped by the need to preserve free time to write.
It was my bad luck to learn absolutely nothing from any category of work. Wait, that’s wrong. I did learn that picking cherries for a week turns your hands almost indelibly black, and that my wife could pick cherries as fast as my brother and me combined.
More at The New Yorker. Just look for the RPCV writers.
p.s. And where is Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) when we do a roll call?