In 1923, Paul and Elsie Fox dumped their only daughter at an orphanage. Rescued by her maternal grandmother, Paula spent the rest of her girlhood shuttling between kind relations and family friends. She yo-yo’d from Long Island to Cuba, landed in the care of a California summer camp and a Montreal finishing school, and only occasionally kept the company of her troubled parents — a sadistically icy mother, a father shipwrecked in a sea of gin. Fox, author of the recently rediscovered novel Desperate Characters, has written a strangely spare and detached memoir. It is fragmentary to the point of slightness, and its few bursts of direct emotion (”What bleakness! What awful struggles just to stay afloat!”) seem disconnected from the coolly recorded turmoil that inspired them.