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Monthly Archives: January 2012

An Interview with Larry Buchanan and Karen Gans, co-authors of “The Gift of El Tio”

"The Gift of El Tio" by Larry Buchanan and Karen Gans

Why did you decide to write the book about your experiences in Bolivia?

LB: Karen and I view the world differently.  Where she saw a picturesque village, I saw only poverty.  Where she saw spirituality and ancient customs, I saw a belief system that kept the people poor.  She was horrified that a mine would be built, leading to the destruction of the village; I was proud that I could make new wealth for the world and provide well-paying jobs for people who had never had more than two nickels to rub together.   As you may imagine, our differences led to heated arguments and many a cold night on the couch, so to resolve our differences, Karen demanded that we live in the village to find out the truth.   I figured she would last a couple of weeks then beg to go home, but she was so much stronger than I had assumed.  The book is the result of that ten-year experience, documenting how neither Karen’s nor my views of the world were correct.

KG: I was horrified when my husband, an exploration geologist, told me that a remote Quechua village would have to be moved because it sat upon a silver deposit he discovered.  Usually exploration geologists have nothing more to do with their discovery; their job is to find the ore and then move on to explore other areas.  I felt that if the town were to be moved, we had a moral responsibility  not to leave, but to follow the people over time and document their changes. I also felt that my husband and I were examples of the liberal-conservative polarization so common in the United States, and a book reflecting our own growth might be helpful to others. We learned to accept that there is truth on both sides.

How did you decide on the title?

KG: The Gift of El Tio is a natural title for our story because the villagers referred to the silver as el regalo de El Tio, a gift from El Tio, who is the god of the underground.

LB: This is the phrase that time and again people out in the bush used when describing our discovery of this gift from their most angry, dangerous, and hungry god.

Who is your intended audience for this book?

KG: We believe this book will appeal to anyone who loves travel and anyone who has an interest in cultural anthropology, geology and mining, education and/or economic development of third world countries.

LB: Our book shows clearly that resistance to economic development in the third-world is not a final answer, while at the same time change in such poor communities isn’t always for the better.   If people can read The Gift of El Tio and appreciate how our polarized views on development are culturally myopic, then the effort we took to write it will be well worthwhile.

What would you most like for the reader to remember?

KG: Often we think we know what is best for another country, but economic development of third world countries is very complicated.  Each situation is unique and requires careful study and an open mind.

LB: A community without change is one that is slowly dying. But even though change is necessary for life to grow and expand, nobody ever said it is pleasant.

What was the most important lesson(s) you learned from this experience?

KGa. I had very strong, biased opinions regarding mining and development in third world countries before I even visited Bolivia.  Once I lived there, I acquired a different perspective – one which allowed me to see that reality may not be black or white, good or bad.   International companies do not just go in and rape the land (at least not the company Larry was working for). They are required by international law and the loans from world banks to follow environmental laws and to protect anthropologically, archeologically, and historically significant aspects of a town they will destroy.  This particular company received recognition for its socially conscious endeavors. They offered priority jobs and training so that the majority of the town had some kind of work.  They also provided seed money for the development of businesses and other money-making ventures, so that once the mine closes, the people won’t be reduced to poverty again.

b. People all over the world deserve opportunities to escape poverty, though I wish those presenting the opportunities would also educate the people as to possible outcomes of development, such as the loss of culture and customs. I think we’re seeing a lot of evidence of culture loss because people work twelve hours a day and because the mine can’t shut down, certain celebrations and rituals can’t take place.

c. That even staunch conservatives like my husband can change – and I love him for it!

LB: Two lessons:

a. Never again will I sneer at what I used to call “primitive myths” or “irrational spirituality,” as I found out that such beliefs are critical to the survival of remote, isolated communities.

b. Karen is one tough human being.

Purchase The Gift of El Tio today!

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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Fuze Ignites the Reading Landscape in 2012!

Joining us this new year are four diverse and talented authors whose books span the literary gamut, from memoir, to fiction, to our first children’s book.  Here’s a taste of the exciting reads that await!

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Addie Greene

Addie Greene’s memoir, How the Winds Laughed, which recounts the author’s adventure sailing around the world in a 28-foot boat, began as ninety articles written for the Santa Barbara News-Press. Addie says, “Turning the articles into creative non-fiction with scenes, dialogue, and dramatic tension was like trying to reattach the shed hairs to my golden lab, Daphne. My critique group was of immense help. Then my editor, Molly Tinsley, took over and advised me to turn the dog hair into a fur coat.”

Addie grew up on a small ranch in the Goleta Valley, just north of Santa Barbara, California. An only child, she became her father’s “son.” He taught her the beauty of the land—about the feel of moist loam in her fingers, the taste of walnuts just fallen.  In college, she met Peter Eastman, who taught her the beauty of the sea. They were drawn to it, to taste its depths and its glories, eventually taking two years to circumnavigate the globe.  After making her living as a journalist and technical writer in southern California for nearly 25 years, she returned to writing fiction after relocating to Ashland, Oregon in 2000.

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Walter Bennett

Leaving Tuscaloosa, written by Walter Bennett, already has the distinction of being a 2010 Bellwether Prize Finalist.  It takes place during thirty-six hours in a racially charged Alabama town in 1962. A white boy, cruising the black “side” of town at night with his buddies, throws an egg that results in the death of a revered leader of the black community. Meanwhile, in the dark countryside, a young black civil rights worker kills a deputy sheriff who comes to arrest him. From these two events springs a gripping narrative, bringing together the lives of two young men–one white, one black-–in a fiery climax that changes them forever.

Walter Bennett is a former lawyer, judge, and law professor, who lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He has published short fiction in both print and on-line journals, numerous articles on the legal profession, and one highly acclaimed book: The Lawyer’s Myth: Reviving Ideals in the Legal Profession  (University of Chicago Press, 2001). He is a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

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Marty Maguira

In May of 2006, Marty Muguira’s life changed forever.  She went from enjoying boundless health, energy, personal happiness, and professional success, to being a critically ill patient fighting for her life.   Diagnosed with a rare incurable blood cancer called multiple myeloma with “light chains,” she underwent aggressive chemotherapy treatment.

In 2007, determined to retrain herself to read and write (abilities severely diminished by her cancer treatments) and encouraged by her daughter, Marty Muguira began writing “updates”—blog-like communications of hope, love, pain, despair, anger, and inspiration that helped her find the light to keep living, despite a terrible illness. These updates, or “chains of light,” eventually became Moments in Time with Mar, a memoir that chronicles the passage from illness towards hope.

Born in Mexico City and selected by the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico for a scholarship to NC Wesleyan College, Marty Maguira moved to the states as a teen.  She received her BA in Psychology, an MS in Education from Old Dominion University, and a Doctorate in Education from The College of William & Mary.  She has worked as an Associate Editor, helping to launch Hispanic Student USA, as a licensed therapist in private practice, as Clinical Director of a non-profit providing specialized services to families in need, and as an Executive Director of Homeward, an organization that catalyses the effective use of homeless services.

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Aidan Patrick Meath

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Jason Killian Meath

In 2009, when seven-year-old Aidan Patrick Meath saw his father Jason publish a book, Aidan decided he wanted to write one too.  For his story, the boy combined his two favorite things in life–summer trips to the beach and pizza–and, presto, The Pepperoni Palm Tree was born.  A story about the only tree of its kind in the world and a boy named Frederick, it portrays the challenge of being true to oneself and celebrates the uniqueness that enables each of us to shine, and thus enlighten the world.  Aidan is currently in third grade at Mater Dei School in Bethesda, MD.  He lives with his many books, Mom, and Dad in Washington, DC.

Jason Killian Meath is Aidan’s dad and author of the book Hollywood on the Potomac (Arcadia, 2009). He has created, written, directed, and produced television programs appearing on The Discovery Channel, PBS, USA Networks, and ABC Family Story.  Awards include Best Screenplay at the Austin Heart of Film Screenwriter’s Competition, 3 CINE awards, the GI Film Festival’s Military Channel Documentary Film Prize. A long time media strategist, he is President of Xenophon Strategies Advertising and Advocacy, a leading public relations firm.  He resides with his wife, Renee, and son, Aidan, in Washington, D.C.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Uncategorized