Excerpts From An honest critic of Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories, my id has some trouble with it but…

(Authors note–I have a degree in Chemical Engineering from WVU 1959, thus the engineer reference  in the critic below.)

….I did sense the ambiance of an engineer.   Allow me to elaborate.  The engineers that I know, think linearly.   They make lists as they are trained to do.  They solve  problems. They get to the core of the matter.   The many topics  in ‘Imagonna’  suggested a list to my mind.  Life was good (check), the Spanish Flu (check),  The Blind Irishman (check), etc. The story had lots of starts and stops – I
wanted it to flow – as in a novel, I guess.
I wanted to know the protagonist more completely.  From my own
experience, (albeit from a different age perspective) there was a wild range of
emotions during service.   Ups and downs. Cultural adaptations. Personal
interactions with HCN’s.   I felt like you didn’t ‘flesh’ out Julian.   Did you
feel like you had met your PC goals at the end of the service?  Would you do it
again?   Sitting around the table with you at the Ward’s house, I garnered more
about the ‘stand up’ Julian than the book gave me.   Which may not be fair
because you have had 50 years to fine tune your ideas….
What about the romance?
….Perhaps the subject of Joyce is a tricky one to remember, but I felt like you
were stingy about that part of the experience.  You were succinct, brief and
factual (engineer).  I was left wondering what Joyce was like, what she thought
– is that the artist in me?   the woman?   the drama queen?   Whose to say?
What about diapering an American baby in Nigeria? … All the little details about the human element in a different culture could possibly be of interest to readers.  What about the Country Director, fellow volunteers, going against rules?
I will quit ragging out at you.   You wrote the book, not me.
I don’t have the necessary energy or time to do it.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to Amazon.com to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (wvhighlands.org), and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation (ksff.org). I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at martinjul@aol.com or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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