Writers From the Peace Corps: The Lost Generation, Part Seven

Writing from experience
Anyone who has read Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, e. e. cummings, Malcolm Cowley, or John Dos Passos can see how they used the experience of living in France, England, and Spain as subject matter.

In much the same way, Paul Theroux, Moritz Thomsen, Maria Thomas, Eileen Drew, Richard Wiley, P.F. Kluge, Bob Shacochis, Norm Rush, Marnie Mueller, Peter Hessler, George Packer, Kathleen Coskran, Mark Brazaitis, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, Eileen Drew, Chris Conlon, Sandra Meek, Tom Hazuka, Jeanne D’Haem, Joseph Monninger, Leonard Levitt, Margaret Szumowski, Ann Neelon, Roland Merullo, Charles Larson, Susan Rich, Mike Tidwell, Susanna Herrera, Peter Chilson, Geraldine Kennedy, Rob Davidson, and hundreds of other Peace Corps writers have used Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe in their short stories, novels, poetry, and non-fiction.

While writing about the developing world and emerging democracies, they have broadened the landscape of American readers by introducing new countries and new ideas about other cultures and societies, much the same way that the writers and artists in Paris in the 1920s broadened the view of the world for Americans back home.

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  • We are writing to the world not to ourselves! As a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Panama, I was in the PC office when a book fell off the table…it was Coyne´s 1993 book Up Country! I sat on the floor where the book landed and started to read and review his words, my brother Ron had a piece about Peru…but it was the intro by Senator Harris Wolfford that brought back the memories. In Argentina and Uruguay I would quote Wolfford´s words to new Volunteers…¨Whatever we were before, and none of us can quite remember, that´s all gone. Peace Corps life tempers one by its sheer and irresistible intensity!¨ …¨that was as Kennedy would have wished it.¨ And now I have COS´d from Panama after a year, and am off to Paraguay for another Response assignment. Listen to Wolfford and go back a second time, or third!
    Bob Arias
    RPCV Colombia 1964-66
    Response Panama 2009-2010

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