On Gary Gildner’s eleventh birthday, his Polish grandfather Steve Szostak was buried. Just before the undertaker closed the coffin, Gildner’s grandmother Nelly quietly placed the book she’d found her husband holding at his death in the casket. “Always this Korzeniowski—even on his last day—and why?” Nelly asked her grandson almost two decades later. It was in this moment—discovering his grandfather’s devotion to Joseph Conrad—that Gildner realized the man he had followed around on a northern Michigan farm was someone considerably more.
Inspired by Szostak’s love of Conrad, Gildner embarked on a journey of self discovery that took him from the Tatra Mountains in Eastern Europe to the Clearwater Mountains in Idaho, finding where the truth begins in his own life.