Literary Type — September 2005

A Little Love Story by Roland Merullo (Micronesia 1979-80) was reviewed positively in the Sunday New York Times Book Section on September 25, 2005. Reviewer Maggie Galehouse writes, “To say Merullo’s latest novel is true to its title is to diminish the impact of this thoughtful, restrained (yet very sexy) book.”
     On another front, Roland has a short story in Golf World’s inaugural fiction issue published on September 2. Roland’s short story, “When a Man Loves a Woman,” is about a high-stakes match at a remote Russian golf course.

When I Was Elena by Ellen Hiltebrand (Guatemala 1991–93) is a non-fiction account of Hiltebrand’s Peace Corps years that will be published by The Permanent Press early next year.
     Hiltebrand’s book is described as “an extraordinary account of a young American woman’s sojourn in the guerrilla-infested mountains of Guatemala. Shattering the concept of a typical memoir, the author’s personal story is interlaced, chapter-for-chapter, with tales told from the perspective of seven host country national women she encountered during her journey. At once a coming-of-age adventure and a haunting history of the struggle to overcome oppression — both personal and cultural — this genre-breaching work heralds the arrival of a daring new talent in American literature.”
     The editor of The Permanent Press, Marty Shepard, has published several important literary works by RPCVs including Under the Neem Tree by Susan Lowerre (Senegal 1985–87).

An Editorial entitled “The war corps” written by Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962–64) appeared in The Berkshire Eagle, on August 23. Lipez writes about the Congressional Bill of Senators McCain and Bayh where military enlistees could complete their post-active-duty military obligations in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. Lipez writes, “One of the great strengths of the Peace Corps since its founding by JFK in 1961 has been its independence from other branches of the government and its ability to function outside short-term foreign-policy goals. The Peace Corps has served America well by representing the country’s best values abroad — and by promoting health, education and freedom from want — without taking stands on foreign-policy positions.”

Also writing about the issue is Kevin Lowther (Sierra Leone 1963–65.) Kevin wrote an op-ed essay for the Christian Science Monitor published on September 20th and entitled, “‘Service to your country’ muddied by Peace Corps-military agreement.” Kevin spent eight years as a Peace Corps Volunteer and staff member and is the coauthor of Keeping Kennedy’s Promise, a critique of the agency in its early years. In his recent op-ed, Kevin wrote, “Volunteers have always faced suspicion abroad that their true purpose was intelligence gathering and political proselytizing. However, the Peace Corps from its inception has been officially insulated against exploitation — covert or otherwise — by the State Department, the CIA, or the military. The McCain-Bayh provision threatens this separation, at no benefit to the Peace Corps and very little to the military.”

William F.S. Miles (Niger 1977–79), author of Hausaland Divided: Colonialism and Independence in Nigeria and Niger, is a professor of political science at Northeastern University and published an Op-Ed in the Boston Globe on August 23 regarding the recent Niger crisis. In summing up his long association with the nation based on his Peace Corps experience, he writes: “Niger — that beguiling nation whose existence I’d ignored throughout my formal education — certainly changed my view of Africa, Islam, and humanity itself. It would be a pity if the world’s well-intentioned but one-sided preoccupation with Niger’s crop crisis only reinforced old stereotypes about hardship and poverty in Africa. Niger can teach us much more than that.”

A section of Tony D’Souza’s (Cote D’Ivoire 2000–02, Madagascar 2002–03) forthcoming Whiteman appeared in the September 5, 2005 issue of The New Yorker.
     And in the September 26th issue The New Yorker ran an article by Peter Hessler (China 1996–98) entitled “Car Town” about the city of Wuhu, the new Detroit of China.
     Hessler’s new book on China, Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present will be published in the spring of 2006.

Journalist and author David C. Anderson (Costa Rica 1964–66) died on September 15th in New York City. The cause of his death was cancer. Anderson was an editorial writer for the New York Times and author of a number of books including Children of Special Value: Interracial Adoption in America published in 1971 and based on his own adoptions across racial lines. In 1988 he published Crimes of Justice that drew on crimes committed against him and his family. His next book, Crime and the Politics of Hysteria published in 1988 that attempted to separate fact from fiction in the case of Willie Horton, a convicted murderer who committed a rape in 1986 while on furlough from prison under a Massachusetts program. In 1998, he published Sensible Justice, which argued that rehabilitation of prisoners was being ignored. From 1999 until 2003 he was the director of communications for the Ford Foundation and in 2001 he wrote with his son The No-Salt Cookbook: Reduce or Eliminate Salt Without Sacrificing Flavor, a book that grew out of Anderson’s efforts to lower his blood pressure.

George Packer’s (Togo 1982–83) new book, The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq has just come out from Farrar, Straus & Giroux. In the Friday, October 7th New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani writes, “If his [Packer] assessment in these pages of the Bush administration is scorching, it is because he writes as one who shared its hopes of seeing a functioning democracy established in Iraq and who now sees the chances of that happening dwindling in the wake of the administration’s bungled handling of the war and occupation.” Summing up, Kakutani says, “In the end, Packer blames administration members’ arrogance and carelessness about human life (amounting, in his words, ‘to criminal negligence’) for many of the current problems in Iraq. ‘Swaddled in abstract ideas,’ he [Packer] writes, ‘convinced of their own righteousness, incapable of self-criticism, indifferent to accountability, they turned a difficult undertaking into a needlessly deadly one. When things went wrong, they found other people to blame. The Iraq War was always winnable; it still is. For this very reason, the recklessness of its authors is all the harder to forgive.’”