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.
Back in 1988? (I believe the year) I was a high school volunteer for the first Pen World Voices festival held in NYC and had the great thrill to get Kurt Vonnegut a sandwich and Norman Mailer a coffee! Moving on up! Very honored and thrilled to be moderating a panel for PEN America and PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature on the theme of persistence! April 21 5pm-630 at Dixon Place – I hope you will come – PLEASE COME! This is my favorite festival of the year – and the rest of the line up is really superb.
April 21, 2018
5:00 PM-6:30 PM
161A Chrystie Street, New York, NY 10002
Where do people find the inner resources, the determination, the doggedness and the sheer physical wherewithal to keep going in the face of adversity and torment? Each of these writers tells compelling stories of epic feats of persistence. Sharon Bala’s boatload of Sri Lankan refugees lands in Canada but instead of receiving sanctuary, they are imprisoned because of fears that their group includes terrorists; their quest for freedom moves to the courts. In Without a Country, Ayse Kulin’s characters flee Nazi Germany and find safe haven in Turkey. But that safety evaporates for their descendants as military coups and encroaching anti-Semitism threaten their future in the place they call home. Marcos Aguinis tells the extraordinary story of the Jewish intellectual who resisted the tortures of the Spanish Inquisitors in 17th-century South America and fought to retain his faith. The common theme is the almost superhuman effort of individuals to persist in the face of danger and death. They talk to Laurie Gwen Shapiro, author of The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica about the almost superhuman effort of individuals to persist in the face of danger and death.