Notes on a Novel

Imagine an RV Park named after a vanished Indian tribe on the Oregon Coast where many, if not all, the park’s inhabitants enact a tiny part of a great new American diaspora. And they get to enact their tiny part with a real estate novelist’s idea of an ocean view.

That’s the novel, the story of a diaspora that’s been fairly well documented by journalism and some academic research, but not explored in fiction.

There are many older rigs inherited by the park’s owner because their previous owners died in them, intestate or estranged from their families or without families, and there was no one to claim the rigs.

Work that in…the intestate riff, about America being a nation intestate….don’t mention ripping this idea off from Cormac McCarthy in The Road.

Many of the rigs have names that connote existential promise or dread and also unwitting evidence of the diaspora: Wildwood, Nomad, Brave, Prowler, Intruder, Pinnacle, Conquest. Many of the rigs have ferns growing out their sides and conifers sprouting from their roofs.

The narrator of the novel is living in one of the dead man RVs, a 40-year old Winnebago with an 8-track player. All the dead man left behind was a coffeemaker, cane and flyswatter. The narrators uses all three of them. The narrator is on the lam and mopping floors of rock bottom.

A clearcut looms over the stateless park. Roosters cry in the distance. Quail roam the grounds. Dozens of hummingbirds duke it out with each other. The smell of pot occasionally wafts though. There are mysterious comings and goings at the park and a mysterious woman who wears striped yoga pants. One of the inhabitants likes to speak in tongues. Another plays various woodwind instruments. There are many happy rescue mutts rescuing sad human beings.

One important note: the narrator really likes the park’s inhabitants and tries to engage them. He wonders if he’s like the doctor in the famous Chekhov’s story, the doctor of an asylum who gradually becomes an inmate of the institution he once administered. Yes, explore that angle!

There really is no tension in the novel. There really is no plot. There are ferns growing from metal and dramatic inertia. Is there a novel in ferns and inertia? The narrator will face that challenge.

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