Literary Type — September 2002

    War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars edited by Andrew Carroll and published in September, 2001, carries a short letter written by D. Michael Van DeVeer (Liberia 1960s) to his brother John. It is on page 478 in the new Afterword of Carroll’s collection.
         In 1998, Andrew Carroll founded the Legacy Project, with the goal of remembering Americans who have served their nation and preserving their letters for posterity. He has been (and still is) a great supporter of our efforts to publish Peace Corps letters. We were able to provide him with Van DeVeer’s letter, with the writer’s permission.

  • Peter Lefcourt (Togo 1962–64) has a new book coming out in January from Simon & Schuster. It is his sixth novel. Entitled Eleven Karens, the novel is the story of his love affairs with eleven women named Karen, one of whom he met while serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa.

  • Appearing in the Washington Post on August 20, 2002 was the Op-Ed, “Bigger Peace Corps, Paltry Effort” written by PCV Mark Shahinian (Ivory Coast 2001–   ), a 1998 graduate of Dartmouth, now a health Volunteer in the Ivory Coast. Shahinian wrote about his objection to increasing the Peace Corps numbers overseas. Among other issues, Shahinian makes this point:

    Doubling the size of the $275 million, 7,000-volunteer Peace Corps wouldn’t do much to alleviate the poverty and hopelessness that foster terrorism. For, in reality, the Peace Corps does more to make us Americans feel good about ourselves than it does to fight that poverty. Instead, we need to change the economic policies that I often find punishing the very villagers I am trying to help.

  • In The New York Times Travel Section on Sunday, September 1st was an article on an American returning to Senegal to show his sister “a complex and joyful nation.” The author of the piece is Michael McColly (Senegal 1881–83). McColly is writing a book about AIDS activism that includes Senegal and had been traveling in West Africa when his sister joined him in Dakar. McColly writes of returning to his Peace Corps village:

      . . . my village mother rang an old tire rim and called the women to the chief’s compound to greet Jody and begin the preparations for the ceremonial meal. After Jody was given a Senegalese name — Khady Mbaye, the same as the chief’s wife — we were blessed and greeted by waves of villages, who howled with laughter when I tried to recall names and speak in my broken Wolof.

  • Suzanne Clark (Mauritius 1973–75) turned her Peace Corps tour with her husband Vern into a self-published book written during Life Story writing classes in Sebastopol, California. “I kept a journal while we were overseas and our children saved the letters we wrote, and we took jillions of slides and Vern and my combined memory helped put the story together.” Her short book of 44 pages ends with “As the wheels left the tarmac, our last view of the island was white sandy beaches and the deep blue of the Indian Ocean before Mauritius disappeared in the misty clouds.” Suzanne’s record of her years overseas is a wonderful way to capture the Peace Corps tour and save it in prose for the next generation.

  • Peter Hessler (China 1996–98) had a piece in the September 2 issue of The New Yorker entitled “Beach Summit.” Hessler lives in China and writes frequently about China and other Asian countries. His book River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze was recently issued in trade paperback.

  • Kinky Friedman’s (Borneo 1967–69) latest is Meanwhile Back at the Ranch, the 15th of his mystery series starring the detective Kinky Friedman. Reviewing the novel in the Sunday, September 8 issue of the Los Angeles Times Book Review, reviewer Michael Harris writes, “In one way, Kinky Friedman’s mystery novels are unlike anybody’s else’s — witty parodies of the genre in which we’re always a little surprised that characters do go kidnapped or murdered and that Kinky Friedman (the author’s detective alter ego) is able to solve the case. He’s a humanist, an animal lover, given to bawdy wisecracks and poetic musings — the runniest yolk in a hard-boiled field.”

  • Thomas Tighe (Thailand 1986–88; Peace Corps Chief-of-Staff 1995–00) had an op-ed about 9/11 in the Santa Barbara News Press that appeared on Sunday, September 22. Among other points, Tighe wrote, “We have learned a lot about what we do not know and what is not simply black or white. As we go forward in the new millennium, it is the quality of our thoughts and insights that will enhance our people, our country, and our contributions to the fragile world in which we live.”

  • In The New York Times Book Review section on Sunday, September 29, George Packer (Togo 1982–83) reviewed Why Orwell Matters by Christopher Hitckens.

  • Good news. Norm Rush (Botswana PCD 1978–83) has finished his long awaited new book. Entitled Mortals, the novel will be published in June of 2003. It’s the last of his Africa trilogy. The two earlier titles: Whites and Mating.

  • This spring, Anne Panning (Philippinse 1988–90) won the Cecil B. Hackney Literary Award from Birmingham-Southern College, for her novel manuscript, Carrot Lake, Carrot Cake. Anne also had a short story, “babysitter,” published in Issue One (May 2002) of Quick Fiction, which publishes stories and narrative prose poems of under 500 words.
              Anne will be presenting a reading in Ithaca, New York on October 24th.