Come hear Laurie Gwen Shapiro read from her new book, The Stowaway, and discuss it in conversation with Kingston Writers' Studio operator and Longreads Essays Editor Sari Botton.
THE STOWAWAY (Simon & Schuster) by Laurie Gwen Shapiro is the spectacular, true story of a scrappy teenager from New York’s Lower East Side who, like many Americans during the Roaring Twenties, fantasized about joining the most famous and daring venture of the era: Commander Richard Byrd’s expedition to Antarctica.
It was 1928: a time of illicit booze, of Gatsby and Babe Ruth, of freewheeling fun. The Great War was over, and American optimism was higher than the stock market. What better moment to launch an expedition to Antarctica, the planet’s final frontier? Everyone wanted to join the adventure. Rockefellers and Vanderbilts begged to be taken along as mess boys, and newspapers across the globe covered every stage of planning. The night before the expedition’s flagship launched, Billy Gawronski—a skinny, first generation New York City high schooler desperate to escape a dreary future in the family upholstery business—jumped into the Hudson River and snuck aboard. Could he get away with it?
From the grimy streets of New York’s Lower East Side to the rowdy dance halls of sultry Francophone Tahiti, all the way to Antarctica’s blinding white and deadly freeze, THE STOWAWAY takes you on the unforgettable voyage of a gutsy young stowaway who became an international celebrity and a mascot for an up-by-your bootstraps age. A must-read for fans of Boys in the Boat and Seabiscuit.
About the author:
Laurie Gwen Shapiro is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist whose writing has appeared in New York, Slate, Aeon, The Forward, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. The Stowaway is her first full-length work of nonfiction.