Treasure Island!!!

Matthew Bevis writes:

When the unnamed narrator of Sara Levine’s novel Treasure Island!!! reads Stevenson’s book, she is struck primarily by how cramped her own life is compared with ‘the book’s open air’. ‘When had I ever done a foolish, over-bold act? … How can I become the hero of my own life?’ she asks, before deciding that Treasure Island is the accident that was waiting to happen to her, a book that was ‘cosmically intended for me’. And so, armed with what she sees as Stevenson’s four Core Values – Boldness, Resolution, Independence and Horn-Blowing – she begins her journey towards a more adventurous selfhood: ‘You know what Jim Hawkins would say? He’d say what good is a life if it can’t be dashingly used, cheerfully hazarded?’ Part of the novel’s comedy comes from Levine’s knowing that Jim wouldn’t quite say this, or perhaps even think it, but might still act as if he did. So several questions are given room to breathe in the novel’s open air: is our 25-year-old heroine using Treasure Island to enrich or to avoid her life? Is the very thoroughness of her need to turn Stevenson’s tale into a self-help book part of the problem, not the solution?

(LRB 25 October 2012)

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