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

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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

May the Bird of Paradise Rest in Your Armpit

The man with the 70's hangover---big stache, wide lapels, swooping toupee---assigned to teach my fifth grade class regularly heaped this wish upon us: 'May the bird of paradise rest in your armpit.' What this meant, and why it should happen to us, was never made clear. It was only, mysteriously, repeated. This was a 1982-83, … Continue reading May the Bird of Paradise Rest in Your Armpit

The first readers

It's almost twenty years since I first shared my fiction beyond the confines of family or classroom. I found three trusted readers during the months of pre-service training as a Peace Corps Volunteer. What else to do on the dusty plains of Central Malawi beneath the boiling sun, the cloudless sky? I wrote my first novel. I wrote … Continue reading The first readers

Peace Corps Retrospective

A compilation of posts recalling my Peace Corps service in Malawi (1996-1998). Crossing Paths with Paul Theroux in Malawi I’ve always felt a strong connection Paul Theroux, due largely to our shared legacy as Peace Corps Volunteers in Malawi. When I expressed reluctance about taking an assignment teaching English there in the 90s, the recruiter suggested I read My Secret … Continue reading Peace Corps Retrospective

Crossing Paths with Paul Theroux in Malawi

I’ve always felt a strong connection to Paul Theroux, due largely to our shared legacy as Peace Corps Volunteers in Malawi. When I expressed reluctance about taking an assignment teaching English there in the '90s, the recruiter suggested I read My Secret History, part of which was inspired by Theroux’s experience as an English teacher in Malawi in … Continue reading Crossing Paths with Paul Theroux in Malawi

CURRY PATTA, JUNGLE OATS, AND PEACE CORPS

My wife keeps a curry plant to flavor her beautiful Indian cooking. Our boys have taken to snapping off the greenest leaves and eating them raw. Their chewing fills the air with a sharp, fresh scent. Yesterday, the plant was brought indoors—frost—to spend the night on our low kitchen table. When the boys found it … Continue reading CURRY PATTA, JUNGLE OATS, AND PEACE CORPS

CURRY PATTA, JUNGLE OATS, AND PEACE CORPS

My wife keeps a curry plant to flavor her beautiful Indian cooking. Our boys have taken to snapping off the greenest leaves and eating them raw. Their chewing fills the air with a sharp, fresh scent. Yesterday, the plant was brought indoors—frost—to spend the night on our low kitchen table. When the boys found it … Continue reading CURRY PATTA, JUNGLE OATS, AND PEACE CORPS

GREEN

When the Peace Corps recruiter called to offer Pete Seward a position teaching English in Malawi Seward asked, “Where’s that?” “Africa.” Seward thought about that.  Where the application had asked for geographical preferences, Seward had written: “Anywhere in the Pacific.  Definitely not Africa.”  So he reminded the recruiter of this. “I do see that.  But, … Continue reading GREEN