Million Mile Walker Dispatch, Special Book & Movie Reviews!, September, 2022

Dear Friends and Colleagues from Around the World,

I’ll report lessons learned after celebrating Banned Book Week in Culture Watch. I have special book and movie recommendations in My Writing, Interviews, and Reviews. I will share some compelling Voices of the Day, some surprising What Others Are Saying, and an updated Calendar.

You can click on the poster above for my Arizona Authors Association newsletter section, which highlights several of my latest articles and book reviews.

 Cultural Watch


 My daughter Nicky & her librarian hubby, Ed, joined me for the “Band Against the Ban in Arizona” gathering kicked off by our PEN America co-chapter leader, Michelle Beaver. Our State Senator, Christine Marsh, who has taught English in public schools for 35 years, said, it’s not what is written–but who is writing, “that is being banned.” A veteran journalist for the Arizona Republic, E.J. Montini, said, “…we’re lucky that most of those banning books don’t read much or they’d find a lot more creative, compelling material to ban.” Is ignorance bliss?

Several authors like Taté Walker read books that are being banned in Arizona. Taté is a Lakota citizen of the Cheyenne. We had a good turnout, and the PEN America Phoenix chapter is planning the next event for March or April.

IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) is also promoting a series of activities on banning the ban on books. I’m also a member and recommend this group to my writer/publisher friends. Here’s a message from their website:

Guatemalan writer Francisco Goldman (Monkey Boy &The Art of Political Murder) reports the following on the incarceration of a respected editor in Guatemala, Jose Ruben Zamora; according to the Director of “La Nación,” a well-known newspaper in Guatemala, “The case against Zamora doesn’t have any proof. Freedom of press and democracy in Central America is touching the bottom.” An all-time low, no doubt.

 My Writing, Interviews, and Reviews

 “Expatriate Journeys in the Land of the Eternal Spring” came out in the Wanderlust Journal.

Here’s what they say about my work:

Meet Mark Walker; he is one of our long-term readers and contributors to Wanderlust. An inspirational lifetime of wandering the globe.

A version of his book, “My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road—First Stop Guatemala,” will come out in Revue Magazine’s May issue. Also, a version of “Traveling Through the Land of the Eternal Spring: A Literary Journey” will come out in the next issue of “Literary Traveler”—He is a contributing writer for both publications. “Time Among the Maya: Personal Reflections” just came out in April’s Revue Magazine—a journey through Belize, Mexico and Guatemala.

I’ve read and reviewed the last seven books from the “Dean of Travel Writing,” Paul Theroux, and was fortunate enough to obtain one of the early copies of this book. I wrote my latest book, My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road, in honor and appreciation of Theroux and another travel writer, “who personally knew and was inspired by Moritz Thomsen and passed their enthusiasm on to me.” Thomsen wrote the Peace Corps experience classic, Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. Theroux’s book, The Tao of Travel, celebrates 50 years of travel writing and inspired my series, “The Yin & Yang of Travel.”

Theroux is probably the most prolific of the Returned Peace Corps writers, with 33 works in fiction and 53 books overall. As with his latest book, I wasn’t enthusiastic about reading it, as I prefer his nonfiction travel stories. But just as was the case reading the life of the aging surfer in Hawaii in Under the Wave of Waimae, he does a stellar job developing the characters in this psychological thriller.

This most recent book is a classic tale of a dysfunctional family. A younger brother’s rivalry with his older brother, Frank, a domineering brother and a well-known lawyer in their small community in Massachusetts. Frank also has a propensity to come up with some vicious betrayals, which leads to the growing frustration and psychosis of his younger brother, Cal.

Andrew Ervin of the “New York Times Book Review” does an admirable job summing up the narrative:

Theroux soon takes us back to their shared childhood and the lifelong rivalry that led to such fratricidal ire. Cal grows up to be a metallurgist and a prospector “searching wild places for minerals and metals.” His escape from their stifling hometown first takes him to the American Southwest in search of solitude and, more importantly, gold. What he finds instead in the desert is a half-dead body. He’s able to nurse the man back to health and return him to his fortified Arizona compound, only to discover that he has rescued none other than Don Carlos, the patriarch of a Mexican cartel. For his efforts, Cal is accepted as an honorary member of la familia Zorrilla, a wealthy, and obviously powerful family.”

 I agree with this summation on the inner flap of this book, “Few writers have as keen an eye for human nature as the inimitable Paul Theroux, and this riveting tale of adventure, betrayal and the true cost of family bonds is an unmissable new work from one of America’s most distinguished and beloved novelists.”

You can find the full review on my website:


 The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend. — Henri Bergson

 I learned of Joe’s work and book from an interview on the Global TV Talk Show, whose host, Ed Cohen, asked many revealing questions. I learned that Joe and I are contemporaries—he was in Kenya with the Peace Corps when I was in Guatemala, but he took his knowledge of cross-cultural communications to new levels, and we have a more tolerant world as a result—at least among those who have read his book or participated in one of his classes/courses.

I contacted Joe through the host of Global TV Talk Show, and he sent me a copy of his book. Although the book was first published in 2015, it’s timelier than ever, given the growing cultural divide, misinformation about immigrants, and the heightened rhetoric of mistrust and hatred. This situation motivated a new chapter in the second edition, “Globalization and its Disconnects: Convergence Without Context,” which focuses on cross-cultural misperceptions in religion, migration, and technology and provides practical strategies to cope with these disrupting cultural disconnections.

Often what sounds or looks rude or crude to us has an entirely different meaning in a different culture, and Lurie provides a practical guide to help deal with other cultures. Despite the declining number of refugees and immigrants allowed to enter the country, we still are, and always will be, a country of immigrants.

As the Executive Director of Global Leadership Advancement Center at San Jose State, Joyce Osland, said, “A spell-binding book addressing a major challenge of the 21st century—making sense, accurately, of global encounters.”

The entire review is on my website:


“Delicious” features gastronomical delights like the classic movie Chocolat. It takes place in the 18th Century, just before the overthrow of the French monarch, and reflects changing attitudes about cooking and that the “common man” had a right to tasty cuisine. It’s filmed in central France and has English titles. An excellent movie for those who like to cook and learn about the role food plays in history.

What Others Are Saying

On my latest book, My Saddest Pleasures:

I very much enjoyed your book through all your life experiences. It was a quick read, already loaned to a friend. I, too am a Rotarian since 1981. Have had a wonderful Rotary life, as well as in the nonprofit industry, Regards, Sharon Spane.

About last month’s Million Mile Walker Dispatch, “Growing Threats to our Freedom of Expression:”

Well done, Mark. A thoughtful and comprehensive compendium. MJ, Mark Jacobs, author of over 150 essays and books, including Stone Cowboy.

About my review of Perception and Deception:

Many thanks, Mark, for the very thoughtful review. Your story about toilet lids is stunning, and I will add it to my story telling with reference to your storytelling!

PS – I will post your review for my network to see…Joe Lurie, author of Perception and Deception

My Presentation at the Arizona Professional Writers group:

Hi Mark, just wanted to thank you for being our Speaker on Saturday. You did a terrific job! It was very well presented. I enjoyed having your guests there as well. I’m looking into getting your publication onto our Website and Facebook page. Warmest Regards – Susan Anderson, Program Chair of APW


 Voices of the Day

Kurt Vonnegut, Memes, Dreams, Reflections






My September 10th presentation was well received, and I met several new writers where I spoke on, Consolidation in American Literature /publisher puts authors and bookstores at risk. What is the small guy to do?


  • In January, I’ll discuss my new book, My Saddest Pleasures, with the Arizona Professional Writers “Book Club.”
  • October 15, I’ll be with the Phoenix Writers Club “spooktacular” author, Debe Branning.
  • November 17, I will be at the Phoenix Writers Network, with host Susan Pohlman, for an Evening with Melanie Herschorn.

 You can find my 60 book reviews and 28 articles, plus several videos, on my website, including a reduced price for my new book if you read it and pass it along to your local library. “Follow” me on Twitter., @millionmile_wal, and Facebook at for the latest on international affairs and literature. And, as always, if you’ve read “Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond,” rate it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and GoodReads, or if you don’t have it, please consider purchasing it or, better still, purchase my latest book, My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road.


Mark D. Walker


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