ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Sarah Palin can take down the fence.
Palin's neighbor of three months on Wasilla's Lake Lucille, author Joe McGinniss, is packing his bags and notebooks and leaving today for his home in Massachusetts to write the book he has been researching on the former governor and GOP vice presidential candidate.
His arrival in May made headlines and drew an indignant reaction from Palin and a visit from her husband, Todd. The Palins even tacked an extension onto an 8-foot board fence between the homes, leaving only a part of their two-story home visible from McGinniss' driveway.
Peeping into windows or peering through knotholes was never part of his research, McGinniss said.
"I've been very busy but on Lake Lucille it's been very quiet," he said. "As I told Todd back in May — he came over to get in my face about moving in there — I said, 'You're not even going to know I'm there. A lot of the time, I'm not going to be here. And when I am, I mind my own business. I don't care what happens on your side of the fence. That's not why I'm here." '
And that's how it has played out, McGinniss said.
A Palin spokesman didn't immediately respond to an e-mail Saturday seeking any comments from the governor on the author's departure.
He's no newcomer to Alaska. Thirty-five years ago, McGinniss moved to the state to see how new oil money would affect Alaskans.
McGinniss had been gone from Alaska for 28 years when he returned in 2008 to research a magazine article on Palin's natural gas pipeline initiative, which she had heralded in the presidential campaign. McGinniss' critical story in the now-defunct Conde Nast publication Portfolio was titled "Pipe Dreams." He concluded that for all of Palin's posturing, her only accomplishment in two years of work on the pipeline project had been to award $500 million from Alaska's budget to a Canadian company and to leave Alaska again at the mercy of Big Oil.
"She said it was a hit piece," McGinniss said. "For a day she was upset. I said it was a hit piece: It hit the bull's-eye."
So when McGinniss moved next door in May, Palin may have suspected that his future book was not going to be flattering.
Up went the fence, along with a Facebook posting implying something sinister: "Here he is about 15 feet away on the neighbor's rented deck overlooking my children's play area and my kitchen window. We're sure to have a doozy to look forward to with this treasure he's penning. Wonder what kind of material he'll gather while overlooking Piper's bedroom, my little garden, and the family's swimming hole?"
McGinniss said he didn't seek out the rental home. During his search for a place to live, he said, the homeowner sought him out. The price was right and it was close to the people he wanted to talk to.