Book Review – Fiction: Me Talk Pretty One Day

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris Reviewed by Mark D. Walker I’d heard enough about the author’s wit and humor to finally purchase one of his books. I didn’t realize it was a compilation of his short stories which was initially confusing but I found a number of them hilarious. Although he’s no Mark Twain, I found his insights and cultural euphemisms and political correctness helped lighten up my day. I can’t imagine him trying to convince family members to share some of the more outrageous stories about them. He’s teamed up with his sister Amy on several […]

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Book Review – Latin America: Maya Gods & Monsters: Supernatural Stories from the Underworld and Beyond

Maya Gods & Monsters: Supernatural Stories from the Underworld and Beyond By Carol Karasik Illustrated by Alfonso Huerta García Reviewed by Mark D. Walker Lidar image technology and a series of National Geographic specials have introduced a growing number of people to the ancient Maya civilization. This book invites in even more readers into the worldview and the mystical realm that reflect the heart of the Maya people. Through captivating stories and exotic illustrations, it also draws upon ancient myths and lore and gives life to their quirky gods. Michael Coe, respected anthropologists, and author says of Maya Gods & […]

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Book Review – Latin America: The Lost City of the Monkey God

“The Lost City of the Monkey God” by Douglas Preston Reviewed by Mark D. Walker As soon as I opened this book, I realized it offered many of the things I enjoy most: a good travelogue, lots of adventure, a historic mystery, including flesh eating bacteria, all of which reveal who the population was centuries ago, as well as something about modern Honduras. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I was pleased to learn that two Peace Corps Volunteers were instrumental in discovering an ancient ossuary, which would turn out to be the most important archaeological find since discovering Copan. […]

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Newsletter: April 2019

My recent research trip to the University of Arizona Special Collection for correspondence of revered travel author, Moritz Thomsen, has surfaced a most amazing find—his last manuscript has just been published – 28 years after his death! I consider it equal to his other four masterpieces, as I found several literary gems. “Bad News on the Black Coast,” which includes 30 vignettes reflecting on poverty, life, death, why the proliferation of thievery amongst the people he loved and lived with for thirty years, and a story about what connects authors around the creative process. Click on my poster for your […]

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Newsletter: March 2019

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 […]

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Book Review – Travel: Living Poor: Peace Corps Chronicle

“Living Poor: Peace Corps Chronicle” by Moritz Thomsen Reviewed By Mark D. Walker   This would be Moritz’s first and best known book, about his volunteer work in tropical Ecuador, where despite language and cultural barriers and a serious fatalism amongst the local population, he pushed ahead with a series of projects which would impact him and his village in ways he couldn’t imagine. As a Peace Corps Volunteer he put down roots, which allowed him to immerse himself in the local culture and economy and understand its dynamics like few other ex-pats. This allowed him to enter the skin […]

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Book Review – Fiction: House Made of Dawn

House Made of Dawn By N. Scott Momaday Reviewed by Mark D. Walker I learned about the author on an “American Masters” documentary, “Words from a Bear” that portrayed him as a voice of Native American Renaissance in art and literature, which led to a breakthrough of Native American literature into the mainstream. Like many Americans, my awareness of the Native American was raised by historian Dee Brown’s 1970 best-selling book, “Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee,” which told about the massacre of several hundred Lakota Indians (mostly women and children) by soldiers of the U.S. Army. The author was […]

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Book Review – Non-fiction: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Cultural Crisis

Book Review: “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Cultural Crisis” by J.D. Vance Reviewer: Mark D. Walker June 7, 2017 As someone with a Scottish/Irish background, I was fascinated to learn that so many of us ended up in the Appalachian area in dire poverty and how difficult it was to get out of their situation. The author movingly recounts the travails of his family, the terrible toll that alcoholism, drug abuse and an underlying code of honor took his family—neither excusing or judging their actions and decisions. I also found the book timely after the election of Trump […]

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Book Review – Non-fiction: Henry: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America by Katrina Shawver

Henry: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America by Katrina Shawver Reviewed by Mark D. Walker Henry tells his story as a champion swimmer and swimming coach, interrupted by three years of imprisonment in Auschwitz and Buchenwald as a Polish political prisoner. He had an exceptional memory and an impressive cache of original documents and photos. I ran across this fascinating story when I met the author, Katrina, at an Arizona Authors Association event. She was a local journalist who’d written hundreds of newspaper columns for the Arizona Republic. She met eighty-five-year-old Henry Zguda in 2002 […]

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Book Review – Travel: Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar By Paul Theroux Reviewed by Mark D. Walker Follow Theroux as he embarks on a 25,000-mile epic journey through Asia retracing the steps of a trip he’d taken thirty years before. Since then, Theroux records phenomenal change. The Soviet Union has collapsed and China has risen; India grows, while Burma is mothered by a military dictatorship and, most interestingly, Vietnam flourished despite the havoc the United States had unleashed on it. No one describes the texture, sights, sounds and the flavors of this changing landscape better […]

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