The Dung Beetles of Liberia
by Daniel V. Meier Jr.
Genre: Adventure, Historical Fiction
Based on the remarkable true account of a young American who landed in Liberia in 1961.
Ken Verrier is not happy, nor at peace. He is experiencing the turbulence of Ishmael and the guilt of his brother’s death. His sudden decision to drop out of college and deal with his demons shocks his family, his friends, and especially his girlfriend, soon to have been his fiancee. His destination: Liberia – The richest country in Africa both in monetary wealth and in natural resources.
Nothing could have prepared Ken for the experiences he was about to live through. He quickly realizes that he has arrived in a place where he understands very little of what is considered normal, where the dignity of life has little meaning, and where he can trust no one.
Flying into the interior bush as a transport pilot, Ken learns quickly. He witnesses first-hand the disparate lives of the Liberian “Country People” and the “Congo People” also known as Americo-Liberians. These descendants of President Monroe’s American Colonization Policy that sent freed slaves back to Africa in the 1800’s have set up a strict hierarchical society not unlike the antebellum South.
Author Dan Meier describes Ken’s many escapades, spanning from horrifying to whimsical, with engaging and fast-moving narrative that ultimately describe a society upon which the wealthy are feeding and in which the poor are being buried.
It’s a novel that will stay with you long after the last word has been read.
2019 Grand Prize Winner – Red City Review
The story weaves drama, dark comedy, and romance throughout a rich tapestry of narration
–THE SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW
“A short time after hiring Ku, I went into the kitchen. He was at his waiting station looking at me. I opened the door to our ancient kerosene-fired refrigerator.
“Wha you wan, boss? Ku get it fo you,” he said, slipping from the stool and putting himself between me and the contents of the refrigerator.
“Something to eat, Ku.”
“No worry, boss.” Ku said, “We ha good stew, good meat—no bush meat—and French baguettes, fresh may t’day, from da new market. Vey goo.”
“Great, Ku. If you would prepare it, I’ll have it out on the porch. That’s where I’ll be.” I retrieved a bottle of beer from the refrigerator, popped it open, and left to find a chair on the porch. Thirty minutes later Ku brought the stew and several slices from the baguette. I had been in Africa long enough to have learned that if something tastes good, don’t ask what it is. However, this time I thought I’d try:
“This is great, Ku. A little different, but delicious. What is it?”
Ku grinned. “Oh, boss, don’t worry. It white man food. I kno why you askin. It no bugabug. It not time for bugabug.”
“Bugabug? What’s bugabug?” I asked.
“Bugabug is wha ya call termites.”
“Termites? You eat termites?”
“Oh, yeah, boss. Dey good. But dey only come out two time a year.”
“Well, you know they live in de big big mounds. Mounds bigga n me. An every now and den, de queen, she decides to move. So dey all move. Swarms and swarms and billions and billions all leave at the same time to find a new home. An das when evybody go get ’em, cook ’em, and eat ’em. Dey real good, boss. Kinda tase lie crunchy chickin.”
“Nice to know, Ku, but when bugabug season comes, I’ll pass.”
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About the Author
A retired Aviation Safety Inspector for the FAA, Daniel V. Meier, Jr. has always had a passion for writing. During his college years, he studied History at The University of North Carolina Wilmington and American Literature at The University of Maryland Graduate School. In 1980 he was published by Leisure Books under the pen name of Vice Daniels. He also worked briefly for the Washington Business Journal as a journalist and has been a contributing writer/editor for several aviation magazines.
Dan and his wife live in Owings, Maryland, about twenty miles south of Annapolis and when he’s not writing, they spend their summers sailing on the Chesapeake Bay.