The short story "Sea Dogs" published in the March-April 2007 issue of The North American Review is based in part on the year I ran away to Europe, helped build a schooner in Denmark, and crewed on her maiden Atlantic crossing in the tail end of hurricane season 1966. An Old Danish sailor who had sailed with us on the first leg of the voyage told the Danish newspapers that we would never see the West Indies alive. We were that incompetent. What if he were right? “Sea Dogs” was the answer to that question.
Two years ago, at MacDowell, I began a nonfiction memoir about that extraordinary year. At age eighty, I am just a few pages from finishing the final draft of The Politeful Harpooneer—135,000 words about "Captain Jack" the super-salesman who claimed Congress had declared his boat a United States Research Vessel, sold us all on signing up for a three-year round-the-world scientific expedition, saw to it that we were trained in basic marine biological research—and then, sick and scared after a storm in the Baltic, abandoned ship one week after we departed Denmark. Five of the original crew of six who took the 65-foot gaff-rigged schooner across the Atlantic are still alive and in touch. In the course of that voyage, one crew member was raped by a world-famous Italian film director on the island of Mallorca. Another attempted suicide in the waters off the island of St. Barths. In the mid-Atlantic, the boat's steering gear snapped in two from winds approaching hurricane force. The oversize stainless rigging began to splinter, tearing a gash in the hand of one of the crew. The hand became infected. One thousand miles from any medical help, the crew operated with an X-ACTO knife and sail needle to save the man's hand—While the boat surfed down the back of forty-foot seas, and spindrift tore across the ocean's surface bringing visibility to near zero. Three of the crew left the boat after the crossing. The remaining three sailed this 1870s style 64-foot schooner from the islands north to Florida—And much to their embarrassment—In the very last hour—Ran her aground at the entrance to Port Everglades harbor.
I am now looking for a publisher for the sailing memoir and for The Diver's Game, a novel-in-stories about street life in Brooklyn's Holy Cross parish in the 1940s and 50s. Three of the stories in the collection have won fiction prizes. At this late age, getting the two books into print is number one on the bucket list. I don't think they are badly written. My first book, Voices of Freedom, coauthored with TV producer Henry Hampton, was published in 1990—And listed as "one of the notable books of the year" by New York Times. In 2014, almost twenty-five years later, it was listed by USA Today as one of "10 Great Books On Civil Rights." I hope the new books will see similar sales, and durability.
Fatal Misstep By Daniel Zender. Daniel Zender is a full time freelance illustrator and designer and an adjunct professor of art and design at Queens College in Queens, NY. He is also the founder of an ongoing zine series entitled Hydrochloric, featuring many different artists and their works. He is a recipient of the 2015 Art Directors Club Young Guns award.