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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 


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For the week of June 5 - 11, 2002


Daniel Hays reads 
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.

Daniel Hays. Courtesy photo

Hays wrote 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."

Hays will 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.

In the 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."

So what 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.

It is 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."


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.