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1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

Woodsburner

by

Woodsburner Cover

ISBN13: 9780385528658
ISBN10: 0385528655
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

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Review-A-Day

"[W]hen the embers begin to cool and the various story lines in Woodsburner draw to a close... all of [the characters] will linger in your mind." The Washington Post Book World (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In 1844, the year before he built his cabin on Walden Pond, young Henry David Thoreau was a lost soul, resigned to a career working for his father's factory. But a fateful event set him on a very different course. One dry spring day, he struck a match to start a campfire, and in minutes the trees overhead were ablaze. By day's end, 300 acres of the woods were destroyed. Haunted by whispers of Woodsburner, Thoreau retreated to Walden and began the writings that altered the landscape of American thought.

Against this factual background, John Pipkin's ingenious debut evokes the imagination of the young Thoreau and the American moment that shaped him, as he crosses paths with a cast of citizens who harbor passionate dreams. Oddmund Hus, a lovable Norwegian farmhand, pines for the wife of his brutal employer. Elliott Calvert, a prosperous bookseller, is also a hilariously inept aspiring playwright. And Caleb Dowdy preaches fire and brimstone to his congregation through an opium haze. Each of their lives, like Thoreau's, is changed forever by the fire.

Like Geraldine Brooks's March and Colm Toibin's The Master, Woodsburner brings America's literary and cultural past to life with insight, wit, and deep affection for its unforgettable characters.

Review:

Late in April 1844, a pair of misfits went camping on the Concord River in Massachusetts, with plans to survive "Indian-style" on the fish they caught. The forest along the banks was dangerously dry, but one of the young men started a campfire anyway. Encouraged by a brisk wind, the flames quickly spread to the grass and then to the pines and birch trees. Before the end of that awful day, 300 acres... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Witty, bawdy, philosophical, touching, and humorous, Woodsburner is a novel I didn't want to end. While Pipkin's book celebrates a sense of both the abundance and fragility of Thoreau's Nature, it also creates a new American Adam and Eve, thoroughly flawed from the beginning but ultimately victorious in their shared joy. Much as in our own time, the characters struggle with their desire for life-shaping change, the age-old stirrings of the body, and economic necessity along with their quests for spiritual, intellectual, and artistic fulfillment. This book is packed with interesting ideas, vital characters, and vivid writing." Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife and Four Spirits

Review:

"Characters whose inner lives are richly and complexly rendered, a suspenseful narrative, and impeccable period details make Woodsburner an exceptional debut. Pipkin tells his story with the verve and authority of a veteran novelist, and the result is a book that, once begun, compels the reader onward to the very last sentence." Ron Rash, author of Serena

Review:

"What a terrific tale John Pipkin spins! He has taken a dramatic episode in the life of Thoreau and the history of Concord, Massachusetts, where I have lived for over thirty years, and transformed it into a gripping and profound work of fiction. More than a century and a half ago, my fellow Concordian, Ralph Waldo Emerson said of Walt Whitman. 'I greet you at the beginning of a great career.' The same can now be said to the wonderfully talented Mr. Pipkin." Doris Kearns Goodwin

Synopsis:

Woodsburner springs from a little-known event in the life of one of Americas most iconic figures, Henry David Thoreau. On April 30, 1844, a year before he built his cabin on Walden Pond, Thoreau accidentally started a forest fire that destroyed three hundred acres of the Concord woods—an event that altered the landscape of American thought in a single day.

Against the background of Thoreaus fire, Pipkins ambitious debut penetrates the mind of the young philosopher while also painting a panorama of the young nation at a formative moment. Pipkins Thoreau is a lost soul, plagued by indecision, resigned to a career designing pencils for his fathers factory while dreaming of better things. On the day of the fire, his path will intersect with three very different local citizens, each of whom also harbors a secret dream. Oddmund Hus, a lovable Norwegian farmhand, pines for the wife of his brutal employer. Elliott Calvert, a prosperous bookseller, is also a hilariously inept aspiring playwright. And Caleb Dowdy preaches fire and brimstone to his congregation through an opium haze. Each of their lives, like Thoreaus, is changed forever by the fire.

Like Geraldine Brookss March and Colm Tóibíns The Master, Woodsburner illuminates Americas literary and cultural past with insight, wit, and deep affection for its unforgettable characters, as it brings to vivid life the complex man whose writings have inspired generations

About the Author

JOHN PIPKIN was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and he holds degrees from Washington and Lee University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Rice University. He has taught writing and literature at Saint Louis University, Boston University, and Southwestern University. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and son.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Marcus, May 2, 2009 (view all comments by Marcus)
It is hard to review this book without giving away too much. The events take place in a very short time period and each character's participation in those events overlaps closely with others. The product description above tells enough of the story line to either entice you or turn you away (hopefully the former). The book itself is an extension of the fire and each character's reaction to it.

Pipkin's writing is very smooth. When I finish a book and realize I haven't ranted to myself during its reading, then I know I enjoyed the author's style. His writing doesn't get in the way of the story he is telling. There are writers whose style is the story and that can be enjoyable, too; but Pipkin's purpose was to take us for a time to Concord, not to show off.

This is especially well written for a first novel. Pipkin's method is to fill in the background of the characters' lives as the story advances. It works very well, until it has worked for too long. Too much of even a good thing is still too much. We're still learning background with just a few pages left.

That doesn't make this book a chore to read; but it does keep it from being as good as it could have been.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780385528658
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Pipkin, John
Publisher:
Nan A. Talese
Subject:
Forest fires
Subject:
Thoreau, Henry David
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Biographical fiction
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20090428
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
8.53 x 6 x 1.31 in 1.25 lb

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Woodsburner Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$0.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Nan A. Talese - English 9780385528658 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "[W]hen the embers begin to cool and the various story lines in Woodsburner draw to a close... all of [the characters] will linger in your mind." (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)
"Review" by , "Witty, bawdy, philosophical, touching, and humorous, Woodsburner is a novel I didn't want to end. While Pipkin's book celebrates a sense of both the abundance and fragility of Thoreau's Nature, it also creates a new American Adam and Eve, thoroughly flawed from the beginning but ultimately victorious in their shared joy. Much as in our own time, the characters struggle with their desire for life-shaping change, the age-old stirrings of the body, and economic necessity along with their quests for spiritual, intellectual, and artistic fulfillment. This book is packed with interesting ideas, vital characters, and vivid writing."
"Review" by , "Characters whose inner lives are richly and complexly rendered, a suspenseful narrative, and impeccable period details make Woodsburner an exceptional debut. Pipkin tells his story with the verve and authority of a veteran novelist, and the result is a book that, once begun, compels the reader onward to the very last sentence."
"Review" by , "What a terrific tale John Pipkin spins! He has taken a dramatic episode in the life of Thoreau and the history of Concord, Massachusetts, where I have lived for over thirty years, and transformed it into a gripping and profound work of fiction. More than a century and a half ago, my fellow Concordian, Ralph Waldo Emerson said of Walt Whitman. 'I greet you at the beginning of a great career.' The same can now be said to the wonderfully talented Mr. Pipkin."
"Synopsis" by , Woodsburner springs from a little-known event in the life of one of Americas most iconic figures, Henry David Thoreau. On April 30, 1844, a year before he built his cabin on Walden Pond, Thoreau accidentally started a forest fire that destroyed three hundred acres of the Concord woods—an event that altered the landscape of American thought in a single day.

Against the background of Thoreaus fire, Pipkins ambitious debut penetrates the mind of the young philosopher while also painting a panorama of the young nation at a formative moment. Pipkins Thoreau is a lost soul, plagued by indecision, resigned to a career designing pencils for his fathers factory while dreaming of better things. On the day of the fire, his path will intersect with three very different local citizens, each of whom also harbors a secret dream. Oddmund Hus, a lovable Norwegian farmhand, pines for the wife of his brutal employer. Elliott Calvert, a prosperous bookseller, is also a hilariously inept aspiring playwright. And Caleb Dowdy preaches fire and brimstone to his congregation through an opium haze. Each of their lives, like Thoreaus, is changed forever by the fire.

Like Geraldine Brookss March and Colm Tóibíns The Master, Woodsburner illuminates Americas literary and cultural past with insight, wit, and deep affection for its unforgettable characters, as it brings to vivid life the complex man whose writings have inspired generations

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