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

When Publishing Was Hard

I tailor-made an essay for an in-house blog last month. Labored over 500 words and thought it a shoe-in. But they passed. The rejection would've stung if I thought the piece was lousy. This was for a blog, but the rejection didn't hurt: I don't submit rubbish, though I may write it. I knew the piece … Continue reading When Publishing Was Hard

Walden in Africa & Other Diplomatic Readings

Among the 53 titles compiled in this Month's Foreign Service Journal is Dan Whitman's Answer Coming Soon. Whatever else it provides to those who read it, Answer undeniably will provide this: a reflection on the power of books. The power is especially profound for those who spend their lives in places where electricity can be spotty … Continue reading Walden in Africa & Other Diplomatic Readings

Memoir: Set This Submarine on Fire

Memoir’s a tough genre. For memoir to appeal to a broad audience its got to succeed in one of two ways. Either the voice asserts some irresistible quality: rich, engaging, dynamic, inspiring, insightful without being pedantic. Or the narrative relates circumstances of an extraordinary nature: the subject is a half-Kenyan young lawyer who rises to … Continue reading Memoir: Set This Submarine on Fire

Better Than the Local Library

Anyone interested in reviewing books should know about Edelweiss, a free online catalog housing a seemingly endless collection of forthcoming and recently-released titles. I can tell you what Edelweiss is, and I can walk you through how I use Edelweiss to select books for review. But the best way to really understand what’s available there … Continue reading Better Than the Local Library

Review–Old Sparky

My copy of Old Sparky—The Electric Chair and the History of the Death Penalty arrived the day after a federal jury ended 14 hours of deliberation during which they concluded that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev deserved death for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon attack. This was no accident. I requested the copy as a means of examining … Continue reading Review–Old Sparky