I’ve tried my hand at a book review. It’s up on a really cool site, theislandreview.com, which I stumbled across when I was looking up something about an island, real or imagined—probably Martha’s Vineyard, Hawaii, Avalon or Neverland. The book I reviewed, Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness by Jennifer Tseng, was the perfect fit for the site, since it takes place on an unnamed island on the northern Atlantic seaboard of the U.S inspired by Martha’s Vineyard, an island dear to my own heart. Jennifer is a librarian and poet on Martha’s Vineyard. We met in college and stomped around Chicago together for a trimester, drinking espresso, eating samosas, reading feminist theory, writing poems and learning about gentrification and social justice. And thrifting!
My own book, which is undergoing yet another revision this spring, now begins with this passage:
To get from Logan Airport to the ferry at Woods Hole, you take the Peter Pan bus, which has always struck me as a ridiculously apt name for a bus that conveys me to an island. For other New England travelers, the Peter Pan bus goes other places—Canaan, Brattleboro, Hyannis—but for me it has one terminus, Woods Hole, where I board the ferry to the Vineyard.
There’s something about islands that always seems a touch mythic. Maybe it was childhood love affairs with Neverland and Avalon. Maybe it’s something about passing over water on a boat. But every time I disembark on an island there’s a little thrill. It always feels that I’ve arrived because the island, like Neverland, is looking for me. I’ll find a spot on the top deck of the ferry and sit in the sun. I’ll feel nostalgia and exhilaration. I’ll feel a hushed drumbeat of fear. I’ll have the thought that I belong on the sea. I’ll wonder how I’ve managed so long in Chicago where there are no crumbling stone walls crusted with lichens and salt, but at least there are gulls. I’ll think I’d never have made it in the Midwest if there hadn’t been gulls in the supermarket parking lot.
I’m headed to the Vineyard next month, in fact, where I’ll be reading June 30th at the West Tisbury Library. Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood!