Long-time Marin resident Jack Beritzhoff didn’t start writing until he was 90. Monday, a packed house at Larkspur's Folio 949 listened to the 93-year-old read from his newly-published memoir, Sail Away: Journeys of a Merchant Seaman and then lined up to have the “young, aspiring author” (as he described himself) sign his book about the time that he served as a member of the US Merchant Marine from early in World War II through the Korean War.
Sail Away follows Beritzhoff from port to port, around the globe to five continents.
“Jack’s a born storyteller,” said David Kudler, publisher of Mill Valley-based Stillpoint Digital Press. “It was fun to work with him. He brings a world at war to life through a series of charming vignettes rather than sweeping tales of battle or flying shrapnel. Sail Away is a view of epic events seen through a very human-sized, very bright window, offering glimpses of humor, humanity, and grace at the darkest of times.”
More than a hundred people — family, friends, and supporter’s of the book’s recent Kickstarter campaign — crowded in to Folio to listen to Beritzhoff read, and to pick up an autographed copy of the book. “It was a wonderful event,” said Kudler. “Getting to see four generations share in the release of a book like this, it makes working with Jack to get his story told all the more special. And Alex (Beritzhoff’s daughter, and owner of Folio) did a wonderful job setting up the event.”
Beritzhoff seemed to to take his newfound celebrity in stride. “It’s nice, just once, pretending to be Noel Coward.”
— Courtesy David Kudler