The Cork Boat

Increasingly frustrated with Capitol Hill during his term as a presidential speech writer, John Pollock decides to take a break and pursue a childhood dream—to construct a boat of wine corks and take it on an odyssey. He enlists the help of an architect and manages to recruit hundreds of volunteers to aid in the effort until, finally, he has a vessel of 165,321 corks. Along the way, we get sidebars on the Cork Wars and the history of rubber bands, which hold the ship together. After some manic assembly sessions and ill-fated test voyages, in the summer of 2002, Pollack’s strange ship appears in the Douro River, on the Portuguese-Spanish border, and sails to the sea at Porto. Pollack’s narrative and determination to succeed imbue this Quixotic quest with a what-the-fuck humor and heroic idealism.