Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky is a curious, imaginative work on the world’s most remote islands, one I am in love with as a kindred writer, atlas-studier and seeker of wild remote places, specifically islands.
Easter Island is on my list. Also Hawaii, soon. French Polynesia? Definitely in the queue, along with Fiji and Micronesia.
I have a recurring dream of island-hopping in Micronesia in old fishing boats with Vietnamese fishermen, flotillas strung together with rough rope to drift when we rest, fish scales, vinegar and saltwater smells permeating the long days, black velvet blankets of stars above. Fishing boats strung with brightly colored lanterns swaying on their lines in tandem with wave action. Swimming in tidal pools, learning to spear fish, sailing through the night to the next lively stop. You know how fish scales smell? They smell like they look; flaky, iridescent, dangerous. Like almost-blood. Like fishy barnacles.
In my dream, I’m fishing for months on end. Danger is a mercurial top-note flavor, and we dance often, the fishermen and danger and me.
One day I’ll get there.
Meanwhile, here is the story about Rapa Iti, French Polynesia, as imagined into life by Judith Schalansky. Thank you, Judith. This book is a continuous source of joy. Readers: buy it here. You will not regret it.