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The Woods: A Year on Protection Island is a book of non-fiction stories that probes and witnesses the unique and sometimes unsettling atmosphere of small town-island life in the Georgia Strait. The measure of one's success here doesn't rely on status or income, but on the skillful handling of neighbours, the resourcefulness for survival, and the adaptation to both the rigorous outdoors of the Pacific Northwest and equally challenging human community of need, trade, and negotiated civility.
These are stories of the people and families who sought refuge here, for different reasons and with different outcomes: Keith, a cross-dressing retired sea captain who can't overcome the death of his wife; Steve, the contractor who escapes his deaf wife and the silence of his domestic life by perfecting his physical property, using only the loudest of electric chainsaws and lawnmowers from morning until dusk; Cris, the seventy-six-year-old library curator who has recently discovered scotch whiskey and sex again after twenty-five years; and of various other transplants making their way through the murky terrain of living on an island.
Like no other community on Earth, this small place is packed with secret corners, eerie histories and a whispering darkness. This is the complicated convergence of human capacities: from homicides (both in the same house, unrelated and years apart) to some of the greatest gestures of generosity, social reform and equality. This is the place of the close-up encounter of who we are stripped of distractions and escapist entertainment; who we are in the woods.