NOVELLA CARPENTER / Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 7:30pm



Novella Carpenter’s father George officially went missing on October 17, 2009. When the town sheriff calls Novella, six days into their manhunt, she has no answers to offer. The truth is, her father had been missing for most of her life.

George’s disappearance begins a journey of discovery that carries Novella from her Oakland urban farm to her father’s off-the-grid Idaho cabin. He eventually resurfaces, and Novella is forced to confront the reality that her time with her dad, who is in his seventies, is limited and if she is ever to restore their relationship, it must be now. Gone Feral is the story of Novella’s quest to find out who she is and where she came from. And now more than ever, it is urgent for Novella to find these answers because she is on the verge of becoming a parent herself.

The story begins in Mexico in 1969, where Novella’s parents fall in love. Young and idealistic, they travel the world before settling in rural Idaho where they plan to live out the homesteading dream. They start a family on 180 acres by the Clearwater River, but the harsh reality of living off the land—loneliness, long winters, back-breaking labor—tears them apart. Novella, her mother, and her sister head for the straight life in Washington, while George remains on the ranch, alone, tied to his vision of freedom.

Carpenter attempts to understand why her father chose a solitary life over family. The truth is more complicated than anything she ever imagined. As she comes to know the real George, Novella must reckon with her own past and in doing so uncovers the legacy her father has left her: a love of animals, of nature, of the written word; a dangerous stubbornness and unbreakable independence.

Novella’s bestselling memoir, Farm City, charmed readers with a unique perspective on the local, farm to table food movement. Written with grace, sensitivity, and humor, Farm City was praised as “fresh, fearless,” by the New York Times and filled with “humor and step -by-step clarity,” by the Los Angeles Times. Gone Feral is written in the same vibrant voice, alive with unforgettable characters, striking vulnerability, and emotional rawness. It marks Novella’s passage from daughter to mother and acknowledges that moving forward sometimes means letting go. In surrender, she finds that love itself is a wild thing: unknowable, fierce, and ever-changing.

Novella Carpenter is the author of the bestselling Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer and is the coauthor of The Essential Urban Farmer. She lives and farms in Oakland, with her partner, Billy, and daughter, Frances.






Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781594204432
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Penguin Press - June 12th, 2014

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143117285
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - May 25th, 2010

The Essential Urban Farmer Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143118718
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - December 27th, 2011