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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Atlas Geek Merges With Bookworm

Since getting home from Hawaii this past Sunday, your favorite blogger has spent a lot of time with his heavily annotated Atlas - what a geek!

With the notes I'd written on the Road Scholars booklet nearby, I began comparing what the wall-size map at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu showed about the settlement of the thousands of islands that dot the Pacific Ocean with information about many of those same islands in my Atlas. Noticing my obsessive annotations in the Atlas, before long, the geek merged with the bookworm. Imagine my bliss.

I started in Papua, New Guinea, recalling Lily King's terrific novel "Euphoria" (2014), finished not long before my trip. Then I journeyed east to the Solomon Islands and fondly remembered "Mr. Pip", an equally fine novel by Lloyd Jones from 2006. From there it was a "short" leap southeast to a speck called Tikopia, an island so small you need an Atlas like mine to find it. Tikopia was prominently featured - as a success story - in Jared Diamond's 2005 masterwork "Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed".

Using currents, flight patterns of birds, and that trusty Atlas, I traversed northeast, headed toward my final destination - Tuvalu - saving the best for last. That would be "The Tattoo Artist" (2006), Jill Ciment's amazing novel about a woman whose body tells the story of her life in that isolated part of the world; the map at Bishop Museum calls it Remote Oceania. As of today, Hawaii is the furthest I've ever travelled from home, although it's not real isolated. However, Kiribati, Nauru, & Vanuatu beckon.    

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