April 9, 2008

An Island of My Own

Out of print books are usually the best ones. These are stories that entertained for a time and then were put to rest by a market of attention-deficient readers. When a friend recommended the book "An Island to Oneself" by Tom Neale, I tracked it down on Amazon (with great difficulty) and got it about three weeks later. When it showed up, I started reading around 7 pm and finished at 8 o'clock the next morning. The book tells the true story of Tom's quest to live alone and in peace on a miniscule islet in the South Pacific called Suwarrow (Suvarov).

I think every human has that desire to escape to the quietest, remotest place he or she can find and simply be. It's the very subject of Yeat's poem "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" and a common sentiment among most sentient beings.

Today, Suwarrow is no longer an unknown entity. It's now a target destination for passionate yachties, who can range from a respectable bunch of travelers to an undesirable sort. Luckily it's the former who frequent Suwarrow (seemingly). A quick flickr search reveals dozens of snapshots from the island, including a monument to author Tom Neale with the inscription "Tom Neale lived his dream on this island".

I once spent a week alone on a deserted Caribbean island, though that is another story altogether. It was less idyllic than one might think because surviving is hard work. I especially related to Tom's frustration with husking coconuts. Not an easy task at all.

So now I am doing what everyone must do with out of print books. Passing it on to a friend.

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