Back in the Stone Age of the early 1980s when people still relied on landlines, I was a latchkey kid who often answered the phone for my parents before they got home from work. A six p.m. call was always for my people-person workaholic mom—never for my dad, a workaholic in the computer field with the social grace of Attila the Hun.
A Q&A with me at Untapped Cities – you can learn why I’m pals with the taxi driver from Slacker and other stuff here.
My second piece for The New Yorker is about a mod 13-year-old named Alice de Rivera who took on Stuyvesant High in 1969. She’s as awesome at 63 as she was at 13. There’s even a Jimi Hendrix cameo!
Check it out at NewYorker.com
Join me Tuesday February 19 – 730 pm ( to about 9) for a celebration of the paperback edition of The Stowaway in the very lush Kgb Bar’s Red Room (85 East 4th, East Village) (Have you ever seen this room above the regular room we associate with KGB – so divine!) My launch night is part of THE LAST TABOOS series hosted by debonair author Tony Perrottet! Alcohol, exotic dancing, live jazz. More details and event FB Page to come. No cover – just come. (Paperback is out January 1, 2019) (YAY!)
I met Laurie Gwen Shapiro in Northern California one fall evening. In a cozy courtyard on the University of California-Berkeley campus, I was chatting with an editor from The New Yorker when, mid-conversation, we got interrupted by a dark-haired woman.
When I learned she was writing about a teenager who stowed away on a 1928 expedition to the Antarctic, I forgave her interruption. I love a good adventure story to remote places, and the unbelievable tale of how teenager Billy Gawronski jumped into the Hudson River to sneak aboard Rear Admiral Richard Byrd’s ship triggered my imagination.
My ninety-seven-year-old father Julius recently amazed me by describing how, when he was hungry during the Great Depression, he would get an occasional free slice of salami from Izzy Pinkowitz, the “official” mayor of East Broadway, who happened to own the Hebrew National sausage factory on his Lower East Side block. How official? “Back then it was official,” he answered, after finishing his favorite old-fashioned cookie, the chocolate-covered Mallomar. “Look into it if you are so curious. The old street mayors of New York would make a good story.”
Father knows best. It is a good story.
I’ll be on three panels at the James River Writers conference this October.
16th Annual James River Writers Conference
Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 13 and 14, 2018
Pre-conference Master Classes on Friday, Oct 12, 2018
How an Author Used the Polar Archives in Ohio to Write about an Antarctic Stowaway
A few months after I began to research The Stowaway, my narrative non-fiction book about the teen stowaway on Byrd’s first expedition, I thought I had enough material to write my book. In March of 2013, I had stumbled upon the story while researching the history of St. Stanislaus Church in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which is the first Polish Catholic church in all five boroughs of the Big Apple. The stowaway, William “Billy” Gawronski, and his family were parishioners there, and I located the records of Billy’s celebration by the church.
I have a read up today at Aeon that looks at the long history and appeal of stowing away — from Balboa, to Shackleton’s stowaway Blackborow, to interplanetary stowaways of the future. (Think Mars.) Hope you’ll give it a read! Not long! (This picture is of stowaway Perce Blackborow and Mrs. Chippy aboard Shackleton’s Endurance.)
Wonderful adventure story for adults! Great page-turner for middle readers and young adults, as well!
A spectacular, true story of a scrappy teenager from New York’s Lower East Side who stowed away on the Roaring Twenties’ most remarkable feat of science and daring: an expedition to Antarctica. Releasing in April in our Narrative and Popular Nonfiction plan.