Peace Corps, the Musical

Five years ago, I flirted with writing a musical based on ‘the generic Peace Corps experience.’ I tabled the idea quickly. The unique nature of volunteer service set abundant hurdles. Peace Corps Africa and Peace Corps Latin America are different beasts. The organization’s six decades presented another problem. We’d moved from the era of ‘Drop … Continue reading Peace Corps, the Musical

Twinkle for Gents—A Close Shave

I ask around about haircuts. Authoritative Mumbai sources say: Twinkle for Gents. Five weeks into our stay, haircuts are essential. But am I to test Twinkle for Gents? I take a 2 and 3 across the sides and top. My sons buzz down to 4 and 5. Not haircuts, so much as a few quick strokes … Continue reading Twinkle for Gents—A Close Shave

What We Talk About When We Talk About Writing

Writers write. This simple premise covers everything I need to know about our craft. The axiom provides all the cover I need to shut out the world and pretend I fulfill my purpose merely by sitting down with a few trusty instruments. A Parker Jotter. A Moleskine Cahier. A keyboard, perhaps. But the platitude, it … Continue reading What We Talk About When We Talk About Writing

Always

Puzzled that I’d spend my time doing this, people will ask, ‘How long have you been writing?’ Part accusation, part sincere inquiry, it deserves consideration. The truest answer I have—and it’s not a wise guy answer—is always. I say ‘truest’ because of the stages leading up to my present output: two published novels; two mid-grade … Continue reading Always

Elevatorwala

Mumbai has a wallah for everything, no task too big or small. Outside my 14th-story flat, one of four elevatorwalas pushes the button that takes us to the street and back again. The other night we ate our first dinner at a Parsi restaurant called---this is all one word---Sodabottleopenerwala. It’s a chain. Derived in part … Continue reading Elevatorwala

Transit Post—Frankfurt

Just so I have a post from Germany. We have a decent layover in Frankfurt, and although it's zero three hundred at my point of origin---hence the cobwebs in my head---it's 9:35 here and past noon at our final destination. Normal workaday hours to write and post! Marginally related to all this, I've been tracking … Continue reading Transit Post—Frankfurt

Posting from a New Home

After five years posting from DC, BenEastBooks moves on to Mumbai. Expect the same focus on craft and reviewing serious books by independent authors. Expect new writing invigorated by travel and adventure. Expect postings flavored with the exotic, the ancient, the extraordinary, and the very new. I welcome contributions, requests for reviews, and sensible observations. When … Continue reading Posting from a New Home

Reader Wanted

Today I finished my fifth novel. Tomorrow, it will be a gift for my son on his eighth birthday. I await the sense of release, the great pocket of freedom that opens up when a large file is deleted. Last December a man walked into the SweetLife Cafe wearing nothing at all but his socks. … Continue reading Reader Wanted

Diplomatic Training

Sixteen years ago I spent ten months at the Foreign Service Institute training for my first diplomatic assignment to Saudi Arabia. This week I returned to campus with my sons, eight and ten, so they could begin their own indoctrination to the diplomatic life. They were enrolled in a course called Young Diplomats Overseas Preparation. … Continue reading Diplomatic Training

A Note Is Worth a Thousand Words

A reflection for Mothers Day. Friday morning I made French toast before catching a train to work. The loaf wasn’t finished, but it was time to make more bread. I remember as a kid coming downstairs in the morning to find notes on the kitchen table. These were friendly greetings, chatty in mood but pithy … Continue reading A Note Is Worth a Thousand Words