The first sentence of the Acknowledgements chapter in Watching Giants: The Secret Lives of Whales quotes About a Boy. Not that I knew this when I chose it instead of the other checked out library book for my bedtime reading. “All men are islands,” Elin Kelsey quotes before continuing on to say that she suspects most women would disagree. While I enjoyed every chapter in her book I am going to group myself into the smaller group of women.
I’m not going to agree with Will quite yet either.
By chance I had watched About a Boy a few hours before starting Watching Giants. I was enjoying dinner and a movie. Dinner was steamed artichokes and eggplant tomato pizza. A friend, overburdened with artichokes and tomatoes from his garden, had given me some. I still had eggplant from a farmer’s market trip the week before and I needed to get all the vegetables cooked up before they started getting shriveled and soft. So there you go that was what led to this dinner. I had to run out for a few things — wine, cheese — of course. Dinner was plated and photographed before I selected About a Boy from my DVD collection. All because Marcus orders an artichoke.
I don’t recall the line about artichokes in Nick Hornby’s book — if memory’s true Will, Marcus, and Fiona eat at Hard Rock Cafe where, I’ll guess, artichokes are not served. I would now refer to the book if the dog hadn’t chosen it for his morning snack a few months back. It isn’t such an important fact though since the line is in the movie which is what I was watching and also what Elin Kelsey quotes. Which allows me to move on to the end without worrying about a missing fact.
The end of the movie introduces a different idea — we are each an island part of an island chain.
I was enjoying full island living that night. Though I have pets my life is largely about me. Take a look at me eating my nice dinner in the late afternoon cause that was when I happened to be hungry watching a movie on my own. Of course, I have very dear friends I see a lot and very dear family I see sometimes so there are islands all around me. Then they too all have their own dear friends and family on their own islands.
At some point while reviewing the photographs I started realizing that dinner also looked an awful lot like islands. From the big pizza, the melted butter, each baby artichoke, the glass of wine — little islands all together forming one dinner.
We are all on island chains. Reading the rest of Watching Giants — in which “each chapter is a separate essay that can be enjoyed on its own” yet together they form a book with the goal of enlightening on the complexity of the oceans. The oceans separate but connected, the sea life individual but sharing a home, the landlubbers far from an ocean life but dependent on all it gives us. The more I thought about it the more I was certain that each of us is an island part of an island chain.
Yes, though it means crossing the gender divide I started to agree with Will. I do, still, recommend the book. It was very enjoyable. It made me laugh and think. For a bit we — very separate islands — connected.