Valeria Correa Fiz On:
The Islands by Marina Perezagua
“The Islands” builds on the idea that vacations can carry you into dangerous waters: things you’ve been trying to avoid crowd in on the idle wandering mind. A father with small children, two yellow inflatable floats made to look like islands, and the sea are the elements Marina Perezagua employs to construct this tale of summertime catastrophe. The conflict arises when the father discovers another float, another island, identical to his, on which he can just make out the silhouette of a woman. This passing glimpse is enough to ignite his desire. But reaching the spot where the other island has conveniently wedged itself is no small feat; it might imply the destruction of his closest relationships. This story takes place almost exclusively on the sea and water in general represents the endless possibilities of the existential plane. The author of “The Islands”—clearly an excellent swimmer herself—has managed to capture the ambivalence of water: its positive, life-giving qualities (science has confirmed that the sea is the origin of all life) and the negative (marine monsters, a powerful destructive force). This story strikes further notes of brilliance in the reimagining of the myth of the siren, which here undergoes a curious iconographic metamorphosis. This is not the only myth referenced in Leche (Milk), Perezagua’s collection in which “The Islands” appears. As John Cheever says, the best way to understand our own times is through the myths of the ancients. The potent voice of this author will pull the reader out to sea and into the gentle rocking of the waves toward the inevitable climax, which seems to warn us that the true danger resides not in nature’s unstoppable force, but deep within us, at the root of our darkest desires.