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Last Moon Dancing: A Memoir of Love And Real Life in Africa First Edition Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0962863233
ISBN-10: 0962863238
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Clover Park Pr; First Edition edition (May 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0962863238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0962863233
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,706,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Diane F. Ellinger on June 2, 2005
I loved Monique Schmidt's memoir. Her honest,straight-forward account of her years in the Peace Corps in Africa is brutal, beautiful and witty. Woven through her African experience are connections to her childhood and early adulthood, but not always in the usual prose format. There may be a poem or an anecdote. Some of the revelations will anger the reader; some will shock, but throughout, you know Schmidt's telling it exactly as she sees and experiences life.
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This is a delightful review of a two year Peace Corps experience by a 22 year old woman in Benin, West Africa, about the year 2000. The descriptions of maggots near the overflowing latrine are the most graphic possible and one cheers when Peace Corps administration actually forces some positive actions that improve the volunteer's chances of surviving. She even shares that Peace Corps paid the $16 cost, not withholding an appreciation of the force between "respect" and "abject fear" that enforced some extremely basic living conditions for volunteers. There is a description and explanations for a tragic vehicular collision that compares with a bus accident in "Unheard", by Josh Swiller, a PCV in Zambia. Readers, like the authors of the memoirs, can only try to put such events into the puzzle of life's unfairness, since in both cases the tragedies were completely avoidable, a result of systems that allow greed and alcohol to overcome public safety regulations. Similarly, Monique Maria Schmidt shares a little of the circumstances of her young friend, after she herself has returned to the US. It is gratifying that other returned volunteers, as well as the author, continue relationships started there. The author's reflections about her own youth and the lack of wisdom during the experience seem a bit harsh; not only did she actually make village friends, she snagged a grant from the US Navy that included enough resources for needed buildings and a laboratory for the school....squeezing such an accomplishment into a few paragraphs near the end of the book, when experienced readers know such grants come only after applications and signatures and estimates that were her efforts, after others had enlisted her assistance and their applications for other grants had been rejected One learns a little about village life in Benin and hopes others there thrive. Thanks to the author for her insights and this experience.
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Once I started reading Last Moon Dancing I could not put it down. I felt all emotions from desperate to amused but the most dominate thing I felt was pride. I am proud that young people have the courage and ambition to commite themselves to the aid and education of those with less. It is an awe inspiring story and one that is so fantastic it couldn't be anything but admired
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I just finished reading this book and was touched by Monique Schmidt's brutal honesty and self-evaluation. Schmidt bares her innermost thoughts to the reader. I found myself laughing out loud and, at times, crying. A very touching book about life, love and her Peace Corps experiences!
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Poetic, interesting, stream-of-consciousness portrayal of the emotional inner landscape of a Midwesterner Peace Corp Volunteer stationed in the small village of Glazoue in French Benin.

The writer combines self-deprecating humor, poetic and prose musings, and short glimpses into the way that the village handles the Yozo visitor in their midst to draw parallels and contrasts between her own Midwestern upbringing and village life.

Near the end of the book, the author says she has discovered about herself that she is drawn to people violently, falling in love with them without qualms, and at the very end of the book, there is a series of poems about Alfi-- a girl she and another Peace corps volunteer semi-adopted but ultimately left behind. This Alfi relationship, a quagmire of hope and love and despair and white privilege and first world/third world entitlement and conflict that the real meat of this book lies.

And the stories of the maggots in her overloaded latrine. And musings on the efficacy of air-conditioned SUVs to relieve heat rash.

The book is at its best for me when the author is a bit more blatant about contrasting her midwestern life poetry with issues of loneliness, abuse, and dream-wrecking in the village. I think a bit more "framework" and a bit less stream of consciousness would have made this book a bit easier to digest in some places, and driven home the complex emotional struggle the author obviously underwent.

Worthwhile peek into the emotionally complex intersection of US good intentions and the cultural integrity of the places USians bring their mission to.
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