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

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

Sex Ed: Anne Frank in Africa

Without telling us the punchlines, Dutch researchers announced this week the discovery of four dirty jokes papered over in Anne Frank’s diary. I taught the diary as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi two decades ago, curious from the start why it was on the curriculum. My students faced a lifetime of grinding poverty, endemic … Continue reading Sex Ed: Anne Frank in Africa

Review–Memoir from Paraguay

Latest review posted at Peace Corps Worldwide, home for Peace Corps-affiliated writers who publish stories from around the world. Mark Salvatore  writes simple, declarative sentences. His Peace Corps memoir, Shade of the Paraiso, is stripped to fact and detail, observation and truth. Even its replication of time — passing slowly at first, building inexorably over months, … Continue reading Review–Memoir from Paraguay

The Portable Art

Unlike the stuff we writers produce, art and music seem to make no demands of those who encounter it. The artist puts it out there---hangs it on the wall, pours it through speakers---and the public responds. They see it. They hear it. They get on with their day, likely the better for having encountered these … Continue reading The Portable Art

Mother Land: A Review for Mothers Day

Stephen King reviews Paul Theroux's new novel, Mother Land at the New York Times this week (PeaceCorpsWorldwide brought it to my attention). King gives voice to the love-hate relationship so many readers have with the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, novelist and travel writer, whose prolific career spans nearly six decades and whose vicious pen reaches the furthest places on the … Continue reading Mother Land: A Review for Mothers Day

Let Us Not Be Quiet

Revisiting Remarque before peace eludes My copy of All Quiet on the Western Front is a tattered thing. The cover, already coming apart in brittle pieces, fell off entirely as I read. It was appropriate to the fate of narrator Paul Baumer to see that cover come away. It is the father of all modern war … Continue reading Let Us Not Be Quiet

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

Workshop: Stories of Peace

While the Pols and Poobahs dress in UNGA-wear and head for New York, the Peace Corps Community runs amok in the Nation's Capitol. Join Peace Corps Writers tomorrow at a workshop for writers in the DC area. The event, part of the annual Peace Corps Connect gathering (celebrating 55 years this year), will take place at the George Washington … Continue reading Workshop: Stories of Peace

20 Years On: Peace Corps & Writing

Today's the day 20 years ago that two score optimistic & good-willed Americans gathered at the 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, to begin the most excellent adventure I know, a blend of humanitarian endeavor, mutual group support, and self-reliance in the face of a great unknown. We were to spend the next 27 months as Peace Corps Volunteers in … Continue reading 20 Years On: Peace Corps & Writing