Wilderness

Wilderness

3.9 18
by Lance Weller
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Thirty years after the Civil War's Battle of the Wilderness left him maimed, Abel Truman has found his way to the edge of the continent, the rugged, majestic coast of Washington State, where he lives alone in a driftwood shack with his beloved dog. Wilderness is the story of Abel, now an old and ailing man, and his heroic final journey over the snowbound

See more details below

Overview

Thirty years after the Civil War's Battle of the Wilderness left him maimed, Abel Truman has found his way to the edge of the continent, the rugged, majestic coast of Washington State, where he lives alone in a driftwood shack with his beloved dog. Wilderness is the story of Abel, now an old and ailing man, and his heroic final journey over the snowbound Olympic Mountains. It's a quest he has little hope of completing but still must undertake to settle matters of the heart that predate even the horrors of the war.
As Abel makes his way into the foothills, the violence he endures at the hands of two thugs who are after his dog is crosscut with his memories of the horrors of the war, the friends he lost, and the savagery he took part in and witnessed. And yet, darkness is cut by light, especially in the people who have touched his life-from Jane Dao-Ming Poole, the daughter of murdered Chinese immigrants, to Hypatia, an escaped slave who nursed him back to life, and finally to the unbearable memory of the wife and child he lost as a young man. Haunted by tragedy, loss, and unspeakable brutality, Abel has somehow managed to hold on to his humanity, finding way stations of kindness along his tortured and ultimately redemptive path.
In its contrasts of light and dark, wild and tame, brutal and tender, and its attempts to reconcile a horrific war with the great evil it ended, Wilderness tells not only the moving tale of an unforgettable character, but a story about who we are as human beings, a people, and a nation. Lance Weller's immensely impressive debut immediately places him among our most talented writers.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
War and remembrance combine powerfully in this rugged debut novel of the horrors of combat and the fierceness of nature. Thirty-five years after the Civil War, Abel Truman, a reclusive, isolated survivor of the cauldron of fire that raged in the 1864 Battle of the Wilderness, where he fought as a Confederate soldier and lost the use of his left arm, begins a journey home. In a tone that owes much, sometimes too much, to Hemingway, he braves the violence of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula landscape and people as he ruminates on his losses and returns from the outer limits of civilization. Weller’s depiction of the old soldier’s journey through memory is the strongest part of the book, with long, vivid passages that evoke the sensory assault of combat and its aftermath. The small details of the battlefield, from the field hospital where his friends died to his glimpse of “a dented tuba lying lost in the middle of a swampy little creek and loose horses too numerous for counting” are potent Civil War prose, a respectful echo of Stephen Crane and Ambrose Bierce. Less successful are the scenes near the end of his trek, where race and violence and kindness jumble together in a murky variety of redemption and sacrifice. Agent: JET Literary Associates. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Debut author Weller (winner of Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers) alternates between two stretches in the life of Abel Truman: his weeks as a Confederate soldier in the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864, when his arm was lost and his friends killed, and the harrowing stretch in 1899 when aging Abel abandons his hermit lifestyle on the coast of Washington State to take one last try at redemption, but encounters interference from some depraved dog fighters. Weller vividly paints epic events against the backdrop of beautiful but brutal landscapes. It's a story brimming with compassion for those—including Abel, his wife and child, his soldier companions, his dog, newly freed slaves, Chinese immigrants, and a mixed-race couple—caught in fateful, savage events. VERDICT Spanning the continent, this tragic tale is the best Civil War novel since Cold Mountain. It's an important, compelling book for fans of literate historical fiction, dog lovers, or true believers in the resilience of the human spirit. Only those who can't handle extreme violence should stay away. [See Prepub Alert, 3/18/12.]—Neil Hollands, Williamsburg Regional Lib., VA
Kirkus Reviews
A wounded Civil War veteran reckons with thieves, racism and the torments of his past. Weller's debut novel alternates between 1864 and 1899 to follow the life of Abel Truman, who fought for the Confederacy before moving to the Pacific Northwest. Much of the action in the Civil War chapters focuses on the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia, a particularly bloody affair, and Weller relates the action in disarmingly visceral detail, blasted faces, spilled bowels and all. That violence is paralleled by Abel's own unhappy past, in which his infant daughter and wife died in quick succession. In the 1899 chapters, Abel is living an isolated life with his dog before he falls afoul of a pair of thieves working their way down the Pacific Coast. The alternating chapters essentially make for two redemption stories--the first a chronicle of Abel's awareness of the folly of racism and the futility of war, the second a tale of human capacity for not just survival, but heroism. Weller relates all this in flagrantly Faulkner-ian language, thick with nature imagery and long sentences that strive to swallow the world whole: "The sun was bright in the leafed trees, upon grass slick with caught rain, and the man-filled road was as protean and indomitable as a river flowing seaward." Weller's command of this style is sometimes shaky, at times obscuring plot points or overdramatizing particular moments. And the linguistic finery serves a fairly simplistic fable on kindness and brotherhood. (Abel Truman's very name hints at how morally uncomplicated the protagonist is.) But Weller's finer moments are marked by some spectacular sentences: He finds an unlikely beauty in the violence-torn settings, as when a bullet passes a soldier's neck "like the first quick kiss of a shy girl." A familiar war story, but told with verve and sturdy, biblical intonations.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608199372
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
09/04/2012
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
919,305
Product dimensions:
6.54(w) x 9.36(h) x 1.02(d)

Videos

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >