cover image A Fugitive in Walden Woods

A Fugitive in Walden Woods

Norman Lock. Bellevue, $16.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-942658-22-1

The fourth installment of Lock’s the American Novels series (American Meteor) is the unflinching, penetrative, and bravely earnest account of fictional escaped slave Samuel Long’s (the fugitive of the title) time living in Walden Woods as Henry David Thoreau’s neighbor. After Thoreau’s death, Long reflects on his time with the American transcendentalists in his youth, when his freedom was tenuous and his sense of identity fluid. After Long makes his escape from slavery, Ralph Waldo Emerson gives him protection and asks that he stay in the woods with Thoreau and report on his progress. Along the way, Long becomes a part of Thoreau’s circle of luminaries, including Nathaniel Hawthorne and William Lloyd Garrison. As Long comes into his own, his famous compatriots are pushed to face the implications of the role they would have him play in their own narrative. Long’s remembrance of his friend is reverential while exploring the wider social context; he contemplates the intersection of his experience as a runaway slave—forced to put his life in the hands of white abolitionists like Emerson, while Thoreau’s experiment is paid for with privilege—and transcendentalist beliefs in man’s inherent goodness and individualism. With melodic prose that marvelously captures Long’s searing insights and rich observations, Lock’s imaginative novel is a stunning meditation on idealism and the cost of humanity. (June)