Apr 29

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Books For the month of April--Million Mile Walker Update Friends & Colleagues, Earlier this month, the “Godfather of contemporary travel writing,” and author of over 45 fiction and nonfiction works plus 134 essays written over 53 years, Paul Theroux, commented on my article in WorldView, “Living Poor,” and threw out an idea for a future project: Mark Thanks very much. Your piece about "Living Poor" in WorldView is worthy of the man. A British publisher, Eland Press in London, is reissuing Moritz's books - they just asked me if they could use my intro for nothing, and in the spirit of Moritz, I said yes. Actually, I think Moritz would have had a big argument with them about money - his letters to publishers were fierce! Someday, someone has to sit down and gather all his letters and publish them in a big volume. His letters may prove to be his true masterpiece. - All the best, Paul My Latest: As promised, “Rhythm of the Grass: Letters from Moritz Thomsen,” was published by the Peace Corps Worldwide. The essay is based on the response to my previous article, “Living Poor,” which was about Thomsen’s first and best known book about his Peace Corps experience in Ecuador. A few days ago, Paul Theroux said the following about my most recent essay and Thomsen’s book: Thanks very much again for your link and your continuing interest in Moritz. Over the past few days I have reread "Living Poor," and am surprised by how casually written, and unfocused, it is, with so many repetitions. This might be due to the fact that he wrote the pieces for a newspaper initially, but while the subject is riveting, and the details of peasant life vivid and unusual, Moritz himself did not really find a way to bring the people to life. His models were Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe and god-only-knows who else - big personalities. Moritz himself did not have the ego, or the style, to match them. I think his writing improved with "The Saddest Pleasure" and "The Farm...," but in essence, his writing has an epistolary feel - as though he is writing a letter to a reader; and is the reason his collected letters are probably his magnum opus. Just a thought... P Magnum opus indeed! Well, this week I’m heading down to the Special Collection at the University of Arizona to meet up with another acclaimed author, Tom Miller, to review the boxes of letters and materials he’s accumulated over the years. Miller and Theroux were planning to write a biography about Moritz, which never came to fruition, but I’m pleased to have the opportunity to bring more of Thomsen’s letters to the public view, as they say so much about this amazing author and the times he lived---in Ecuador for some 30 years. My next article will focus on the extensive correspondence of Thomsen with innumerable authors and publishers sharing his insights into the craft of writing and living on the Equator. Click on my Million Mile Walker poster for my most recent essay! A philanthropist to remember: One of my great joys as a professional fundraiser for over thirty years was the opportunity to meet some amazing donors whose lives and generosity made them an inspiration. In some cases, I maintained and developed friendships after I left the organization they supported. This was the case of Dr. David Hungerford, who was the Board Chair for MAP International for all ten years I was there and then chaired another group I consulted for, “Bridges for a Common Ground”. David always joked that, “I’m worth more to you dead than alive,” since he’d done an excellent job setting up an estate plan that would benefit his favorite charities even after he left. Well, that time came too soon for us and he’ll be missed. David and his wife, Heide, stayed with us for a week when they were building a home in north Scottsdale. Heide loved our Jack Russell, “Jacko” and called him “Fritzie.” They met in Germany when David was studying medicine. One of our common interests was cross-cultural communications, since Heide is German and my wife, Ligia, is Guatemalan. They often invited us to events in their home promoting one of the groups that I was working with. We appreciated this friendship with David, and we’ll miss him. He always brought special insights into anything medical, as he was a surgeon at Johns Hopkins (although I usually understood a quarter of his explanations), and everything spiritual, as he was a committed Christian. They gave us a special 3-D Southwest painting, which we hung in our entry hall that helps us remember him each and every day. The latest review of my book, "Different Latitudes” was written by a psychologist, Dr. Kixx Goldman, who recognized the therapeutic value of it: A compelling and thoughtful memoir with a fitting title, "Different Latitudes," has earned a place on my shelf of favorite books. Author Mark Walker’s career as a volunteer in the Peace Corps began in the 70s when he traveled to the Caribbean and Central American countries and served in one of the more remote areas in the highlands of Guatemala. Mark goes on to describe his international travels and transition from field worker to fundraiser. The narrative of the author’s journey is filled with engaging descriptions and vignettes, often humorous, which portray a life of dedication and service. As I became immersed in the world of the highlands of Guatemala and beyond, my eyes opened to the depth of poverty in these regions, and I got a real taste of the challenges of life there. I learned of the author’s initial feelings of isolation and his strength in overcoming overwhelming challenges to make an important contribution. This important book left me wanting to know more about this culture and inspired me with a sense of curiosity and hope. Book Reviews: Before providing my latest book reviews, I’d like to report that Tin House, one of the revered, literary magazines rejected one of my articles, which is not uncommon, but in their case, it was because they are discontinuing their magazine. This does not bode well for creative writing outlets… I had to read David Sedaris’s, Me Talk Pretty One Day, as he’s become one of the premier comic writers in the country. I appreciated his commentary on why we love France but hate the French. “Letters from Moritz Thomsen,” written by fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Christopher West Davis, added to my understanding of this great travel writer. Davis has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Discovery Channel Magazine. In the preface of this collection, Davis describes going with Moritz to the Library of Congress to hear Paul Theroux’s lecture on that spring evening in 1981. It is a wonderful narrative as Davis, the outsider, the young RPCV writer, observed the famous and the gifted, and the literary types who gravitate to such tony events. These commentaries alone are worth the price of his book. Cultural Watch: “An Act of Forgiveness and Healing,” which refers to Florida voters restoring voting rights to 1.4 million Americans with past convictions is a powerful call for improving democracy and will, hopefully, spread to other states. As the country with the highest rate of incarceration, we also have the largest number of disenfranchised citizens among democratic countries. In “The Color of Compromise,” Jemar Tisby shines a light on Christians who had the power to improve race relations but didn't--he also found that 40,000 Protestant ministers were members of the Ku Klux Klan. Tisby is a Christian historian & writer getting his PhD. at the University of Mississippi. My movie choice is “Before Night Falls,” an autobiography of Reinaldo Arenas, a Cuban poet and author. Javier Bardem was extraordinary, as always, and Johnny Depp played two roles. The storyline reflected the deteriorating human rights in the Castro regime, as well. I liked the scene about why dictators don’t like authors and artists. For adults only! The Calendar: I’m planning to attend the upcoming Peace Corps Connect Conference in Austin, Texas at the University of Texas in Austin June 21-23 and will attend the award ceremony of Guatemalan filmmaker and friend, Luis Argueta. Check out the Iowa Public TV interview with Guatemalan filmmaker, Luis Argueta, about his latest film, "Abused." When asked, "What do you want people to take away from your film," he responded, "These are not 12 million faceless illegals, but human beings like us with the same dreams and we need to begin to see them as ourselves---this is about us. To open our eyes about the humanity of immigrants.”…/train-nowhereluis-argueta This month’s Phoenix Writers Network event was especially timely as it covered everything “legal” in regards to writing and protecting one’s intellectual property, an aspect of the writing profession often overlooked until it’s too late! Maria Crimi Speth is one of Arizona’s top intellectual property attorneys. She recently published “Protect Your Writings: A Legal Guide for Authors.” Voice of the Day: I think I’m retired. I’m trying to behave a little more retired,” by Sister Kathleen Schultz on continuing activism in her 70s. Quip of the Day: Author Laila Lalami would suggest our President read, “First Things First,” by L. G. Alexander. It’s the textbook that was assigned for my first English class, when I was in the 10th grade. It covers the basics of grammar, usage and respectful communication. It also has a lot of big, beautiful pictures. Don’t forget to check out the revised Million Mile Walker website where you can find my updated event Calendar, and all of my book reviews, as well as the special “Making of,” my Different Latitudes video. Check out my Million Mile Walker Facebook page for more on the border crisis, including my story of visiting a shelter in Phoenix with my wife to help some of the sixty families, many of whom had children in need of special support. And “follow” me to get the latest in global affairs and literature. Also—remember to use my MillionMileWalker email, as I'll be suspending the Fund Development Innovations address. And, as always, if you’ve read “Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond,” by all means, rate it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and GoodReads, or if you don’t have it, please consider purchasing it. Saludos! Mark D. Walker Copyright © 2019 Million Mile Walker, All rights reserved. Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

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