from new memoir
Express Arts Editor
A few rare
individuals seem to be driven to understand themselves and the world with
a clarity and simplicity most of us can only talk about in idle
conversation. People like Wood River Valley resident Daniel Hays actually
act on that drive. That’s why at age 24, he and his father, David, built
a 25-foot sailboat and sailed from Connecticut around Cape Horn. They were
the first Americans to do so in a boat less than 30 feet in length.
a best-selling book about the experience titled "My Old Man and the
Sea." But that wasn’t the end of Hays’ pursuits. His next
adventure took place on an island. And Hays has written about it in a book
to be published next week, "On Whale Island."
read from and discuss his new memoir Thursday, 6 p.m., at The Community
Library in Ketchum. After the reading, Iconoclast Books will host a book
signing at the library.
prologue to "On Whale Island," Hays describes the experience of
writing a best-seller. "I got my fifteen minutes of fame, along with
a bunch of money. We bought a big house in a resort town. We lived a
normal life for two years, and then I got lost somewhere between my
twenty-horsepower fuel-injected four-wheel-drive weed whacker and the
thirteen separate sprinkler zones surrounding my ‘estate.’ I worried a
lot about Zone 6. I came to prefer the sprinkler’s fwap fwap fwap
to the rain. I was lost."
Hays did was take his wife and 11-year-old stepson to live on 50-acre
island off the coast of Nova Scotia. They were there for a year, and
"On Whale Island" is a daily log of what transpires. Of course,
it is much more than that.
Hays is a
writer with a sense of humor. What’s more, he can write humorous prose—a
rare talent. Still, what stands out in the narrative is Hays’ honesty.
It is an honesty about himself and his willingness to express that honesty
that informs the book. Indeed, we learn much about ingenuity and
creativity as three people try to carve a home out of a desert island
wilderness. They use a sperm-whale vertebrae for a toilet seat, collect
water from the roof, build a windmill, dock, solar power system. But we
learn as much or more about human relationships—a direct result of Hays
telling things as they are.
certainly a romantic idea—to go live on an island—but Hays moves
beyond that in this memoir. It is, to steal a phrase from Anna Quindlen,
"living out loud"—not something just anyone is qualified to
do. It requires insight, introspection, humor, honesty and an ability to
communicate all of these qualities. And this is exactly what Hays brings
to pages of "On Whale Island."