A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende, Reviewed by Mark D. Walker

  I hadn’t read any of Allende’s books since “House of Spirits,” and after seeing several revealing interviews of her over the last few months, I decided it was time to reacquaint myself with her latest novel. The setting of the Spanish Civil War and Chile drew me in even more, as many of my favorite authors, such as Federico Garcia Lorca, George Orwell, John Dos Passos, Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Neruda lived through that war. Also intriguing was the landing of the protagonists in Chile after the military takeover of Pinochet. The President who was toppled was the author’s […]

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The Best of Million Mile Walker: Reflections on 2020! December

Dear Friends and Colleagues from Around the World, 2020 has been a challenging year in so many ways. For the first time in 47 years, our family did not celebrate Thanksgiving together, nor did our children and grandchildren celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas at my oldest daughter’s place.  We had to settle on a series of Zoom calls emptying Christmas stockings on Christmas Eve and singing carols on another video call on Christmas. Here are some of the highlights of Million Mile Walker for the year. Culture Watch At over 335,000 deaths, the U.S. has the worst record, with 25% […]

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Author Interview in SIETAR Newsletter (Soc. Intercultural Education, Training & Research) on Moritz Thomsen

CRAIG STORTI BOOKMARKS: LIVING POOR AND THE SADDEST PLEASURE 14 Dec 2020 8:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator) TWO BY MORITZ THOMSEN: Living Poor and The Saddest Pleasure Reviewed by Craig Storti There’s a movement afoot (led in part by Mark Walker, see the interview below) to elevate Moritz Thomsen to the status of a Very Important Writer, someone whose books stay in print for generations and get assigned in college literature classes, someone whose name every well-read person should know. And we here at BookMarks are happy to do our part. We briefly mentioned Thomsen in one of our previous columns (where we reviewed […]

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Africa Memoir by Mark G. Wentling, Review by Mark D. Walker

I’ve read and reviewed several of the author’s books over the years. We were both Peace Corps Volunteers in Central America and worked in West Africa, although Wentling went on to work and travel in 54 African countries over the years. My favorite book from his “African Trilogy” is “Africa’s Embrace,” which is fiction, but reflects his experience working as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa in the 1970s. The well-developed characters force the reader deep into the heart of Africa. Wentling worked with USAID and the State Department, so his book, “Dead Cow Road,” is an authentic and […]

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The Nuances of This Thanksgiving & a New Political Moment! November Newsletter

Dear Friends and Colleagues from Around the World, Like many families, our clan celebrated Thanksgiving in a very different way this year, which included a “Video Chat” where all my children and grandkids shared what they were thankful for and their hopes for the coming year. As a family of immigrants, our take on what’s coming next is revealing. Culture Watch will include a special announcement about an interview with Global Connections TV about my book “Different Latitudes,” several book reviews and a special movie about the complex relations that can exist between immigrants. I’ll report on my Webinar with the overseas staff of […]

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On the Road: The Original Scroll by Jack Kerouac

  After writing several “counter culture” articles on my experiences in the early 1970s, the first entitled, “Crested Butte 1970: Reflections of a Town in Transition,” I decided it was time to re-read perhaps the most influential beat generation book, “On the Road.” This book is now ranked number two on Amazon’s “Beat Generation Criticism” list, after “Dharma Bums” by the same author. The New York Times hailed the book as “the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac named years ago as “beat.” In 1998, the Modern Library ranked On […]

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Homeland Elegies a Novel, by Ayad Akhtar

  I initially heard Ayad Akhtar when he was interviewed by PBS and then came across the words of Bill Moyers about one of the author’s many plays on what was to be Moyers’ last; his plays are “not only history, but prophecy. A Biblical-like account of who’s running America, and how.” Moyers added: “Our times at last have found their voice, and it belongs to a Pakistani American: Ayad Akhtar.” This novel about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams, told from the perspective of a Muslim writer, is a must read. The book reflects […]

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Neighbors: Oral History From Madera, California, Volume 2, by Lawrence F. Lihosit

  As one of the proofers of Volume 2, I was pleased to help Lorenzo with his latest of sixteen, soon to be seventeen books. I used his, “Peace Corps Experience: Write & Publish Your Memoir” to write my own, “Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond.” He obviously knows the Central California area and history well, especially Madera, where he now lives. I totally agree with the publisher of “Madera Tribune,” “The best of its kind in print. Like Volume 1, the author offers real-life stories by citizens of Madera, California. It seems like they speak […]

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Announcing My New Book And More! October, 2020

  Dear Friends and Colleagues from Around the World, This month’s Culture Watch will highlight books from the “counterculture” era to one from today’s “Black Lives Matter” movement. Two Special Projects will take center stage, starting with my search for a publisher for my second book and my latest article on a Maya activist in Guatemala whose unique experience will inform our documentary film. My new book will be about one of the great, but little-known, authors of the 20th century who wrote on the coast of Ecuador. Next, a quick update on the Rotary/Peace Corps partnership and the Calendar […]

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The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

  As part of my ongoing education on “Black Lives Matter,” revisiting the tenth-anniversary edition of this iconic best seller, which the Chronicle of Higher Education deemed “one of the most influential books of the past 20 years” seemed timely. I recently learned that Blacks comprise 47% of people in prison in Florida, and yet make up only 17% of the population, and also that Florida was one of four remaining states where felons are banned for life from voting. That changed when 65% of the population voted to restore ballot access to people with prior felony convictions, so what […]

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