Sunday, May 10, 2009


John Pipkin holds a Ph.D. in British Romantic Poetry and once served as the Executive Director of the Writers' League of Texas, a non-profit organization promoting the literary arts. He has published articles in Studies in English Literature, Good Life Magazine, Austin Monthly and the Common Review.

He applied the “Page 69 Test” to Woodsburner, his debut novel, and reported the following:
Well, I guess I have to say that page 69 of Woodsburner both is and is not representative of the entire work. Woodsburner is a historical novel based on a forest fire accidentally started by Henry David Thoreau in 1844, one year before he went off to live alone at Walden Pond. The story of Thoreau’s attempts to extinguish the fire is based on true events, but Thoreau’s story is also interwoven with the stories of three fictional characters: Oddmund Hus, a Norwegian immigrant and farm hand who is pining for the love of his employer’s wife; Eliot Calvert, a bookstore owner and aspiring playwright struggling to support his art with his business; and Caleb Dowdy, an opium-addicted preacher tormented by a terrible secret from his past.

Page 69 of Woodsburner describes Oddmund’s fateful journey to America as a boy on board the Sovereign of the Seas. In style, tone, and pacing, page 69 is representative of the entire novel, which paints a portrait of life in America in the early 19th-century. But in terms of the plot, this page really only represents about 25% of the book, since Oddmund’s story is only one of the four that are interwoven in Woodsburner.
Read an excerpt from Woodsburner, and learn more about the book and author at John Pipkin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue