Most people have childhood dreams; few ever pursue them. At the age of 34, John Pollack quit a prestigious speechwriting job on Capitol Hill to pursue an idea he had harbored since the age of six: to build a boat out of wine corks and take it on an epic journey.
In Cork Boat, Pollack tells the charming and uplifting story of this unlikely adventure. Overcoming one obstacle after another, he convinces skeptical bartenders to save corks, corrals a brilliant but disorganized partner, and cajoles more than a hundred volunteers to help build the boat, many until their fingers bleed. Hired as a speechwriter for President Clinton midway through construction, Pollack soon has the White House saving corks, too. Ultimately, he and his crew set sail down the Douro River in Portugal, where the boat becomes a national sensation. Written with unusual grace and disarming humor, Cork Boat is a buoyant tale of camaraderie, determination, and the power of imagination.
“As the boat bobs down the Douro River to the cheers of the crowd, Pollack’s absurd quest seems not merely charming but heroic.” –The New Yorker
“A surprisingly charming memoir.” —Esquire
“An adventure whose goofiness is exceeded only by its fun.” –Detroit Free Press
“Fascinating and extraordinary.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“A great story of adventure and imagination.” —The Oregonian
“Irresistible. . . . This adventurous memoir is the perfect post-holiday escape. It is a hearty affirmation that dreams can–and sometimes do–come true.” –Tucson Citizen
“Compelling. . . . Pollack is so likable that it’s hard not to root for him. . . . After reading this book, you might never look at a cork–or a pipe dream–in quite the dame way again.” –San Antonio Express-News
“This spiritual journey on a boat made from wine bottle corks is . . . well worth taking. This Cork Boat floats.” –Orlando Sentinel
“Written in a style of singular grace and impact. . . . The example of John Pollack imagining and fashioning this object of rare, if bizarre beauty, is worthy of warmest admiration.” –Washington Times
“This buoyant nonfiction adventure saga is bound to float any armchair adventurer right out of the winter doldrums.” –Boston Herald
“A Quixotic tale that made me chuckle–and brought a lump to my throat.” –Witold Rybczynski, author of Home
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Before working as a speechwriter at the White House and on Capitol Hill, John Pollack worked as a foreign correspondent, at a history museum, and as a strolling violinist. In 1995, he won the 18th Annual O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships. A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, he now lives in New York City.