Robinson Crusoe Through the Looking-Glass

Quick theology quiz: the doctrine of the Holy Trinity teaches the substantive unity of which three beings?

a) Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, and UFOs
b) electrocution addiction, girls who skateboard, and the Playmates of 1976
c) both a) and b)

If you answered c), you must be Peter Rock, recently interviewed by me for Identity Theory, and by Kaui Hart Hemmings for the Rumpus, on the occasion of the publication of his latest novel, My Abandonment.

Like Robinson Crusoe, My Abandonment was inspired by a true story about someone coping in the wild. One might situate it in a tradition that includes the early American captivity narratives as well as Thoreau's Walden, although this would tell you little about the actual experience of reading it. Here's a great sample sentence:

“Sometimes when you're sleeping someone presses on your chest or the flat of your back with their hand and when you wake up no one is there but you can tell in the dark air in the room that someone has been talking to you."

I saw Rock read from this book at Green Apple Books last week. He said he doesn't like it when people ask him about the true story that inspired the book, instead of asking him about the book. But since everyone always does ask about the true story anyway, there was a veteran who lived in a hidden camp in Portland's Forest Park for years with his daughter. He home schooled his daughter, using old encyclopedias – the encyclopedias are a detail Rock naturally keeps -- and when tested, the girl's reading level proved to be five levels above her public school grade level. Then they were found and resettled, and then they escaped again, and if they ever surface again, the girl will probably win a Nobel Prize.

Incidentally, people often ask me, if I find something in a book I'm reading, and photograph the thing I've found, is there a website where I can send the photograph? Okay, nobody's ever asked me that, but the answer is, here.

1 thought on “Robinson Crusoe Through the Looking-Glass”

  1. My father bought his books for med school used. One of them had a note in it, which he kept in the book and which I would read from time to time. It said: “To the police. Please give this bucket of blood to my wife. She’s been drinking it for so long now, I think she should have the rest.”

    If I ever find it, I’ll send a photo to this website.

    Not only is Pete Rock a good writer, he’s a nice guy and has the best name ever.

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