“Woods Burner” takes a day in history and turns it into an insightful work of fiction. To me, it was a little like “Our Town” in reverse. Instead of the dead facing the living and realizing how precious life is….the living face an afternoon of approaching death and realize that life should be met with purpose and conviction.
The approaching terror is fire…….We all know Thoreau as the cabin dweller, the woods inhabitant who secluded himself away and left his mark on literary history. But did you know that before his seclusion in Walden Woods, he started a forest fire (accident or negligence is a thought left for one’s own interpretation) that destroyed 300 acres of trees and wildlife that nearly blazed right through the town of Concord……..
The premise of the book follows a group of diverse characters, all with baggage and despair during that one afternoon as flames approach, Thoreau, among them. How they face the fires of life……will it consume them with the smoke of smothered dreams or will it ignite in them a different flame……that is Pipkin’s story.
John Pipkin manages to put together the pieces of a jagged jigzaw puzzle and compose a well crafted play that seamlessly fits all the stray corners into a compelling final act.
Without that fire…….Thoreau might never have left his life and his head filled with whispers of “Woods Burner” to drop his own heavy baggage outside the door of a cabin in the woods.