Islands Apart: A Year on the Edge of Civilization

Islands Apart: A Year on the Edge of Civilization

Author Ken McAlpine stands in his front yard one night in Ventura, California, trying to see the stars.

Taking a page from Thoreau's Walden, he decides to get away from the clamor of everyday life, journeying alone through California's Channel Islands National Park.

There, he imagines, he might be able to "breathe slowly and think clearly, to examine how we live and what we live for." In between his week-long solo trips through these pristine islands, McAlpine reaches out to try to better understand his fellow man: he eats lunch with the home in Beverly Hills, sits in the desert with a 98-year-old Benedictine monk, and befriends a sidewalk celebrity impersonator in Hollywood.

Reviews of the Islands Apart: A Year on the Edge of Civilization

Ken's ability to not only BE with whatever environment he is in, but also to eloquently share what he experiences, is a profound gift.

Islands Apart is a story of a man's quest to look at the world we live in from a quiet place. When the author is not spending time at any of the Channel Islands, he visits other venues that provide him more insight into the world we live in. The Author spends a week at the shelter meeting the homeless and learning about their lives. The person in charge of the shelter, Michael, understands what the Author is doing and gives Mr. McAlpine insight into the lives of the homeless. This chapter really opens up the readers eyes to what it is like living as a homeless person. In the final chapter, The World to Come, the author visits with a Nursery School in Ventura California.

The mainland chapters were really good, but they seemed a little lost, as though while the author wanted his readers to be able to draw their own conclusions, he really wanted to be able to find answers himself, but couldn't. But if Dispatch doesn't know where you are, you and God better be very good friends." Overall, I highly enjoyed the book and it makes me want to take a trip out to all the islands, but especially if I could score a bunkhouse at Santa Barbara *grins sheepishly*.

But he's not; McAlpine has one prior book and has allegedly won writing awards and such. So I'm going to assume he can take my brief summary of Islands Apart, which is that this is a book about a privileged white man who gets dissatisfied with society and gains his first inkling that not everything is completely good, so he makes his first venture to actually care about nature and those without money. The chapters focused on his interactions with others in LA are actually better done than those focused on the islands for that reason.

Despite getting something different than what I was expecting, I still liked the book very much. Ones that stick out to me several weeks after having read the book are: visiting a weekly war memorial on the beach, spending time at a monastary (sounds like fun, other than the eating in silence part), and shadowing a Captain Jack Sparrow impersonator in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater.

I have read two of your books at this point, and each one has supercharged my weird desire to travel to obscure, cold-weather, bleak places, and I have now added the Channel Islands to my list. When you decide to travel to Scotland for your next cold weather adventure book, TAKE ME WITH YOU.

Its why the xantus murrelets continue to lay eggs in caves where rats destroy the embryo within before its even had a chance to firm up.

There were several stories interspersed between the island tales about trying to find some peace and solitude within society.

Ken McAlpines most recent novel, NEXUS, picks up where the page-turning JUNCTURE left off. Ken McAlpine is the author of ten books; fiction, non-fiction and selected essays.

  • English

  • Nonfiction

  • Rating: 3.68
  • Pages: 272
  • Publish Date: July 14th 2009 by Trumpeter
  • Isbn10: 1590305302
  • Isbn13: 9781590305300