Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lobster shift! Waterfront Book Festival celebrates maritime literature

The waterfront has long been a source of inspiration for Brooklyn writers, from Walt Whitman to Budd Schulberg.

Gabriel Cohen has felt the allure himself. The Ditmas Park resident is the author of four novels, two of which delve into maritime topics, including the recently released “The Ninth Step,” a true story about one of the worst disasters in human history that didn’t happen — a munition ship blowing up in New York Harbor.

So it’s probably no coincidence that on Saturday, he’ll launch the Waterfront Books and Authors Festival, a day of maritime-related projects and music held, fittingly, at the Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge in Red Hook.

“I wanted to give a sense that not only is the city surrounded by water, but there’s a really interesting subculture of people who work on the waterfront,” said Cohen, who also organizes the Sunday reading series at Sunny’s Bar in Red Hook.

Cohen’s festival will also feature eight other authors who’ve written about topics ranging from lobsters (Trevor Corson, “The Secret Life of Lobsters”) to tugboats (George Matteson, “Tugboats of New York”), as well as Brooklyn-based Americana band Pinataland, performing a selection of sea and waterway-related songs.

“It’s not just about history, but what’s going on right now and gives a vivid sense of New York Harbor — one of the greatest ports in the world,” he said.

Waterfront Books and Authors Festival at the Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge [290 Conover St. at the water in Red Hook, (718) 624-4719], June 26, noon-4 pm. Admission $6. For info, visit


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