Peace Corps Writers
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  Joe Kovacs (Sri Lanka 1997–98) was awarded a $1,000 small project grant from the DC Commission on Arts and the Humanities for a research trip to Nogales, AZ for his second novel, Across the Border. Cambridge Literary Associates in Newburyport, Mass. has indicated interest in representing his first novel, Journeying Away, after the manuscript is edited.
Dark Star Safari Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963–65) has a novel coming out this summer in England and next year in the U.S. Entitled The Stranger at the Palazzo D’oro & Other Stories, it is a short erotic novel that revolves around the affair between a young man and an old woman. Theroux wrote it while traveling overland in Africa researching Dark Star Safari: Overland From Cairo to Cape Town. He said he needed to do “something” at night to keep his mind off what was happening on the streets. “To restrain myself — because the place if full of prostitutes and opportunities — I kept busy writing a short erotic novel.” It is, we’re told, “a very erotic” novel.
The May 26th issue of New York magazine carries an early review of Norm Rush’s (Botswana CD 1978–83) new novel Mortals. Reviewer John Homans writes in his glowing review of Mortals, “One wants to call him the best writer of his generation, but one imagines that Rush would reject the category, or at least have a fairly complex idea as to what it means. As with any great novel, one wonders how the seamless conjuring — the amazing precision and playfulness of the voice, the flashing river of thoughts and insights and formulations and feelings — was accomplished.” In the New York Observer (May 26 issue), Jennifer Egan reviewing Mortals writes, “In the course of this absorbing and variegated novel, Mr. Rush invites the reader to consider the origins of Christianity, the function of the C.I.A. in the wake of the Cold War (the novel is set in 1992–93), the tension between rebellion and conformity in Milton’s poetics, the nature of hell and the political future of postcolonial Africa. Fore readers hankering after a novel of ideas, it doesn’t get much better than this.”
    This is an early “heads up” on a wonderful non-fiction book by Sarah Erdman (Cote d'Ivoire 1998-2000). The title is: Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Town. It will be published by Henry Holt in August, 2003. (You may remember reading her short essay “The Guissongui Show” about her village that we published on our website.) Nambonkaha is pronounced “NAM-bong-kaa.” Buy this book! Tell a friend!
   The Wall Street Journal on April 15 carried an op-ed piece entitled, “The ‘Obnoxious’ Threat to Nigeria and Its Oil” written by Ron Singer (Nigeria 1964–66). Singer, who teaches at the Friends Seminary in New York City, has kept up his interest in his host country since his Peace Corps years.
      In early 1960, Maurice (Maury) L. Albertson, director of the Colorado State University Research Foundation, received a Point-4 (precursor to USAID) contract to prepare a Congressional Feasibility Study of the Point-4 Youth Corps called for in the Reuss-Neuberger Bill, an amendment to the Mutual Security Act. The Youth Corps was “to be made up of young Americans willing to serve their country in public and private technical assistance missions in far-off countries, and at a soldier’s pay.”
     Pauline Birky-Kreutzer (Pakistan staff 1961–63) worked for Albertson at CSU at that time. In 1961, she went to Pakistan as the Field Representative (later called COR) for Colorado State University for the first group of Volunteers to that country. Later still, she directed one of the first training programs for Peace Corps Volunteers for Afghanistan.
     Pauline has just self-published Peace Corps Pioneer Or “The Perils of Pauline,” an account of her years working with Volunteers and living overseas. The book can be ordered from the Jade Creek Books in Ft. Collins, Co. 970.484.3019. For anyone interested in the early history of the Peace Corps, this is a must read.
     Robert Roberg (Peru 1966-68) has published his first children’s book, The Littlest Star. The book comes with music on a CD and is published by Shine Time Record and Books of Nashville. The musical version of the story is sung by Margo Smith of Nashville fame. Robert wrote the story and did the illustrations for the book. To check it out, click www.littleststar.com
     Robert was a community development PCV in Peru, and today teaches Instructional Design for the University of Phoenix online, Film as Art for Ames Christian University, and Introduction to College Computing for Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Florida.
     Also a painter, he has two pieces in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
     Robert’s own Peace songs can be heard at www.robertroberg.com. And Robert writes that, “Despite all my horror stories, my daughter, Mercy, is leaving for the Peace Corps in Gabon in June.” Runs in the family.
The “Kinkster,” Kinky Friedman (Borneo 1967–69) is back with another mystery, Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned. This is his first book in which the “Kinkster” isn’t a character. It is the story of a blocked Greenwich Village writer named Walter Snow who is jolted out of his doldrums when he meets a couple of colorful characters who include him in their escapades, such as stealing Donald Trump’s credit card and using it to throw a caviar and champagne party for the homeless.
     Kinky has made something of a career out of being friends of Presidents. He met Governor Bush a few years ago at a book festival organized by Laura Bush. At the party, Kinky wore a name badge that said “Larry McMurtry.” “Larry McMurtry didn’t show up so I took his tag and walked in so people could say, ‘I can’t believe I’m shaking hands with Larry McMurtry,’ and I would say, ‘Thank you kindly.’ George was watching this. He whispers to the security people. I thought I was gonna be 86’d. But it didn’t happen. I asked the security guy later, ‘What did the governor tell you?’ and he said the governor said, ‘I want that guy for my campaign manager.’ Later George wrote . . . from the White House inviting me to spend the night and do a reading. The Medina [TX] postmaster was very excited. He said, ‘Kinky, you got a letter from the White Horse Saloon in Nashville!’”
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