Jay O’Callahan’s long adventure story The Island is one of the most powerful tales I’ve ever heard on tape — and one of the most derivative. But O’Callahan borrows from the best: In its grandiosity and humorous details, ”The Island” recalls both the Arthurian legend and Gulliver’s Travels.
The story is mythic, complicated, and full of characters like the Silver one and brutal Brinehart, master of the fog. Brinehart is evil incarnate, and dangerously close to winning a battle that will keep the kingdom’s queen trapped underwater for eternity. Dardenelle, the queen’s diminutive daughter, is in dire need of help. Then a sailor named BEals washes ashore, straight from a pirate ship, and the real action gets started.
There are good guys and bad guys — and one guy who can turn you into a pig by blowing on your head. Amid the magic, there is the mundane, as when Beals tries to explain ”sweat” to Dardenelle: ”Well, it’s kind of a water that pours off your body and when it dries up it stinks, but it’s a good stink.”
O’Callahan’s greatest girl is his ability to create an imaginary world using nothing but his voice. ”The Island” is deep and dreamy stuff, but the story’s humor and whimsy keep you from sinking under the weight of all that myth. A-