Sunday, January 21, 2007

islands in the sea

I heard an interview of Michael Parker on NPR, about his new book of short stories, "Don't make me stop now." One of the stories was about an elderly black man and two elderly white sisters hanging on and living out their days on one of the Outer Bank Islands off the east coast--NC, I think. They're the last ones on the island. The man's son is trying to get him to leave, telling him those sisters don't mean anything to him, but there's some sort of relationship and he's staying. I love the idea of people trying to hang onto a disappearing way of life. Especially near the sea. I've read two memorable books about the near-last inhabitants of the Great Blasket Islands, off the west coast of Ireland, "Peig," by Peig Sayers, and "The Islandman," by Tomás O'Crohan. (Of course I've still got them on my shelf.) The island people finally grew weary of their hard existence and petitioned the government to resettle them on the mainland, in the late Thirties, I think. The books were written in Gaelic and translated into English. Great reading.

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