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Woods Burner (2000)

by John Pipkin(Favorite Author)
3.49 of 5 Votes: 3
review 1: A disappoinment, but an interesting read. I would compare it, in a sense, to an overly produced album, next to a roughly produced low -fi album. One may be technically accomplished but the later has more heart. Woodsburner was an overly produced album, created in a state of the art studio by a good technician. This book, in its description, purported to be about Henry David Thoreau starting a forest fire in Concord just before he moved to Walden Woods, a topic which interested me immensely. Partially it was. It is a fiction, so I did not expect a historical narrative. I did though expect more Thoreau in it, of the 37 chapters; he was the main character focus of only 8, and mentioned only in passing in others. The other chapters concern other residents of Concord and Boston... more, on that particular day, which are effected by the fire. Some of their stories interested me greatly, especially Reverend Caleb , although I did not like at all the surprise ending of his story, 1t should have been left with him walking into the forest fire. I did like the forays into old Boston, having spent some time living there, I could picture the area. Not the wealthy Louisburg Square, but a crowded and noisy, with manure strewn streets leading to opium dens. The character stories all intersect together by the end, but I had long since stopped caring about most of them. There were also sexual scenes and story lines, which seemed to me, included solely for the sake of shock value (shocking at an academic dinner party). Not to give anything away, but Oddmund’s relation to the pumpkins, was completely unbelievable. The colonial pornography story line, at first seemed realistic, but soon took on a modern slant that didn't fit the pre-civil war times. I do not deny pornography existed then, it did in Pompeii, but I do not think this was a truthful or historic portrayal. I do think Pipkin got Thoreau's reaction to the fire correct. I'm also reading Walden and can see Thoreau trying to justify the fire being something more than his own stupid mistake, of trying to light a fire on a windy dry day.
review 2: Goodness, this was a faster read than I thought it would be. Each chapter was a different character based on Thoreau's real-life incident when he accidentally set fire to some nearby woods in the Concord area. Felt sympathy for many of the characters (Henry David one of the least--portrayed as quite pompous) and it ended ‘right’ for the one I most wanted it to. Well-written and although I gave it four stars, probably won’t give it another thought after this write up. less
Reviews (see all)
Loved the writing which was in the transcendental tradition in its description of nature.
Creative idea. I thought the language lacked color and the characters had little depth.
Working on a project at work involving this book...we'll see!
Interesting read, not my cup of tea.
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