Caroline and her father live a simple, meager existence, shrouded in Forest Park, a nature preserve in Portland, Oregon. Ostensibly homeless, they have built a secluded home in the woods, complete with garden, library, and shower. Caroline reads the encyclopedia and runs barefoot in the forest, exploring the boundaries of her domain. Occasionally, she and her father visit the nearby town for food, the library, his SS check, but mostly stay out of the reach of other people.
Peter Rock’s My Abandonment is really a huge surprise. This slim novel examines their lives with dazzling, electric prose, starting with the childish naivete of the opening pages, to the shock of her father’s subsequent unraveling, to the quiet mournful remembrance at the end. As each chapter unfolds, a stranger, more twisted history evolves, yet Rock writes with a tenderness that belies the darker truths.
Read this. Jeez, it will only take an hour. Okay, maybe two, but it’s worth it.