Weekend Book Quiz


Weekend Book Quiz

Who wrote the books with the first sentences listed below, and that are based on their Peace Corps Experience, Travel, and Living the Life of an RPCV?

#1. They took us in the Land Rover, Mike and me, with Kim Buck driving. We had planned to leave that morning, as it was a good four hours’ drive, although it was only about sixty miles from Mbeya.

#2. I got my Peace Corps application at the post office in Red Bluff, California, put it on the table in the kitchen, and walked around it for ten days without touching it, as though it were primed to detonate—as indeed it was—trying to convince myself that for a forty-eight-year-old farmer the idea of Peace Corps service was impractical and foolhardy.

#3. The widow opens my door without knocking. A trail of Flying Horse-brand cigarette smoke enters behind her. An old cotton cap hides coarse, mortar-colored hair, brushed back from her brow to reveal a gold loop in each ear.

#4. At nine A.M., the doorbell rang. I couldn’t see who it was because of the high wall surrounding the house, but after a moment’s debate whether I shouldn’t just ignore it, I picked up the crowbar we’d been keeping handy and started across the courtyard to the security door.

#5. Start here, on Mount Windsor, locally known as Ooah Mountain, where the brakes went out on Miss Defy, Isaac’s taxi, on the way to pick up Johnnie at the airport.

#6. A single lantern filled the room with flickering light, throwing Fanta’s shadow toward the door. The glow bronzed her tight cheekbone, her deflated breast, her moving stomach. There was not a cushion in sight, not a sheet, a bar of soap, not a bucket of water.

#7. Two days before he was released forever from el Panóptico Prison, in La Paz, Bolivia, Roger the stone cowboy became aware that he had been talking to God.

#8. I had a farm in Africa too. My farm was not in the Ngong Hills but on even richer land about eighty miles west of Nairobi.

#9. Like an African, the white doctor came to work on foot, along a road that lined the port of Dar es Salaam.

#10. Denton and Esther Jordan were stopped at the gate by a young man in army uniform, his cheeks red and raw under the harsh searchlights. He held a machine gun around his waist.

#11, I was born poor in rich America, yet my secret instincts were better than money and were for me a source a power.

#12. The Doué, a tributary of the Senegal River, flows inside its red-tan banks past a small village of clay houses with thatched roofs.

#13. You should have seen us when we had our act together, top of our game, toast of the town, walking and talking miracles and—you’d better believe it—the real American thing.

Leave your answer (number and title) in Comments plus your country and years of service.


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  • I’m guessing that #12 is “Under the Neem Tree” by Susan Lowerre, an unforgettable memoir.

    I want to read every book that beings with these stunning opening sentences.

    Leita Kaldi Davis
    (Senegal 1993-96)

  • No.2 – Moritz Thomsen, ‘Living Poor’… I had the pleasure of reading that passage early in the book, just 2 days ago.
    And, one or more of the others is by Paul Theroux, but I’m not sure which one.
    And, John Coyne-sahib, which one is yours?

    Don Messerschmidt
    (Nepal 1963-65)

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