Literary Type 11/02

    Paul Eggers (Malaysia 1976–78), now an assistant professor in the MFA program at California State University in Chico, California, has published a new book. A collect of his short fiction, How the Water Feels came out in October, published by Southern Methodist University. Many of the stories in the collection are based on his Peace Corps and United Nations relief work, all taking place in South East Asia in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The book received a starred review in Kirkus Reviews. His novel Saviors, published in 1999, was a Barnes & Noble Discovery selection and won the 2000 Maria Thomas Fiction Award.
         In October, Eggers was the first reader in the 2002–2003 Pittsburg (Kansas) State University Visiting Writers Series sponsored by the English department of the university. Stories by Eggers have been published in The Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Northwest Review and Granta.

  • Also teaching at California State University/ Chico is Rob Davidson, the 2002 winner of the Maria Thomas Fiction Award for his collection of short fiction Field Observations. This must make Chico State the only university with two RPCV writers on their faculty, as well as the only university with two Maria Thomas Award winners.

  • Bird Cupps (Kenya 1987–89) had an essay entitled “Quills” in the April, 2002 issue of The Sun, a North Carolina literary journal. The essay was a lyrical piece reflecting on suffering after Bird received a serious injury from a belt sander.

  • In the October 14 & 21, 2002 issue of The New Yorker, Peter Hessler (China 1996–98) returned with an article on “The Middleman” the small-time traders who operate in downtown Beijing in the neighborhoods around the foreign embassies.

  • Paul Theroux’s (Malawi 1963–65) next novel is Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town. Dark Star Safari takes Theroux down the length of Africa by rattletrap bus, forgotten trains, and rusting steamers. Along the way, he is shot at, robbed and spat on, and sleeps in malarial flop houses, and unsanitary trains. Sounds like Peace Corps travel to me. He tells great stories, as always, and writes wonderfully, as always. Here’s his description of being caught in a stifling tent in the desert.

    There came a trotting sound, not one animal but lots of tiny hooves, like a multitude of gazelle fawns, so soft in their approach they were less like hoof beats than the sound of expelled breaths, pah-pah-pah. They advanced on me, then up and over my tent, tapping at the loose fabric. It was rain.

The book will be published in February by Houghton Mifflin.

  • Rick Gray (Kenya 1988–90) is currently performing in “Three Sisters” by Anton Chekhov at The Connelly Theater in New York (220 East 4th Street between Avenues A & B). The production is part of the CHEKHOV NOW festival. Information is available at www.chekhovnow.org.
         Rich’s own play, “Oil Men,” is currently under consideration for the O’Neill Playwright’s Conference/2003. This play is set in Saudi Arabia where he worked for a period as an English teacher.

  • Educational Leadership carried an article in the October 2002 issue on the Peace Corps book, Voices from the Field, a textbook that uses Returned Peace Corps Volunteers’ personal narratives to increase understanding of other cultures. The article was written by Cerylle A. Moffett (staff: PC/W 2000– ) the curriculum design specialist of World Wise Schools in the Peace Corps and co-author, with Beth Giebus (Morocco 1990–93) and Betsi Shays (Fiji 1966–68), of Voices from the Field.

  • Richard Richter (staff: PC/W 1963-64; Kenya Deputy Director 1965-67) had a Op-ed article in the Washington Post on Friday, October 25 entitled “China Walls Out the News.” Richter, who is president of Radio Free Asia, leads off his piece with, “The media are full of news these days about China embracing reform and emerging as a world player. But don’t think for an instant that Beijing has stopped practicing what Thomas Jefferson called ‘tyranny over the minds of men.’”

  • The cover story of the October 2002 issue of National Geographic Traveler on Bali was written by P.F. Kluge (Micronesia 1967-69.) Kluge is the writer in residence at Kenyon College in Ohio and author of several novels as well as books of non-fiction.

  • In the December issue of Vanity Fair, Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964–66) has a cover story on Fort Bragg’s bloody summer of 2002 when a series of domestic murders and suicides occurred, and all involving experienced soldiers who had served in Afghanistan. Orth not only wrote the story but at a reception in Washington for Colombian president Alvaro Uribe Velez she went up to U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki and told him about the insensitive treatment received by some of the families left behind. “Less than a week later, the general in charge of personnel called to thank me and said the survivors could contact her personally,” says Orth. Since then, several survivors have received assistance they had not thought available, and the Army has begun revising its procedures for such case. “Once the top guns became aware,” says Orth, “they also became accountable.”

  • In October Jacqueline Lyons (Lesotho 1992–95) read her poetry at the Salt Lake Public Library’s Main Branch as part of the City Arts reading series. Lyons is working toward a Ph.D. at the University of Utah and writes about her experiences in southern Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

  • Jason Sanford (Thailand 1994–96) has an essay about Frank Miller’s new graphic novel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, in Flak Magazine. You can read it online at: www.flakmag.com/books/darkknight.html.
         The fall issue of storySouth, a magazine edited by Jason Sanford, is now online at www.storysouth.com
         You can also read some of Jason’s writings at www.jasonsanford.freeservers.com