Words in the Wild

December 15, 2018  • Institute Staff

In September, Aspen Words teamed up with Aspen Film to present a screening of the new movie Leave No Trace, followed by a “From Book to Big Screen” discussion featuring producer Linda Reisman and novelist Peter Rock, author of My Abandonment, the award-winning novel from which the film is adapted. Moderated by Aspen Words Executive Director Adrienne Brodeur, the panel explored the challenges and rewards of translating literature into cinema. Brodeur acquired Rock’s novel for Houghton Mifflin while working as an editor in New York City, where she first became captivated with the book, which was inspired by a true story. She later gave the book to Reisman, who knew it had to be a film. “It’s fascinating how a series of nonfiction events have inspired highly creative endeavors in multiple forms,” Brodeur said. The book and film follow the lives of a man and his daughter who are forced into traditional housing after years of living in the wildlands near Portland, Oregon. After trying to adapt to their new surroundings and clashing with one another, they embark on a journey back into the wild. Rock said he wrote the novel after reading newspaper articles about a father and daughter who spent four years living off the grid in a nature preserve near downtown Portland before being discovered by the police. The articles made no mention of what ultimately became of the pair, and Rock couldn’t get them out of his mind. He used the newspaper stories as a jumping off point for his own writing and then let his imagination take over. Curiosity, he told the audience, is a great source of inspiration.