The Wilding: A Novel

The Wilding: A Novel

3.4 48
by Benjamin Percy
     
 

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A powerful debut novel set in a threatened western landscape, from the award-winning author of Refresh, Refresh

Echo Canyon is a disappearing pocket of wilderness outside of Bend, Oregon, and the site of conflicting memories for Justin Caves and his father, Paul. It's now slated for redevelopment as a golfing resort. When Paul suggests one last

Overview

A powerful debut novel set in a threatened western landscape, from the award-winning author of Refresh, Refresh

Echo Canyon is a disappearing pocket of wilderness outside of Bend, Oregon, and the site of conflicting memories for Justin Caves and his father, Paul. It's now slated for redevelopment as a golfing resort. When Paul suggests one last hunting trip, Justin accepts, hoping to get things right with his father this time, and agrees to bring his son, Graham, along.

As the weekend unfolds, Justin is pushed to the limit by the reckless taunting of his father, the physical demands of the terrain, and the menacing evidence of the hovering presence of bear. All the while, he remembers the promise he made to his skeptical wife: to keep their son safe.

Benjamin Percy, a writer whose work Dan Chaon called "bighearted and drunk and dangerous," shows his mastery of narrative suspense as the novel builds to its surprising climax. The Wilding shines unexpected light on our shifting relationship with nature and family in contemporary society.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Percy's excellent debut novel (after the collection Refresh, Refresh) digs into the ambiguous American attitude toward nature as it oscillates between Thoreau's romantic appreciation and sheer gothic horror. The plot concerns a hunting trip taken by Justin Caves and his sixth-grade son, Graham, with Justin's bullying father, Paul, a passionate outdoorsman in failing health who's determined to spend one last weekend in the Echo Canyon before real estate developer Bobby Fremont turns the sublime pocket of wilderness into a golfing resort. Justin, a high school English teacher, has hit an almost terminally rough patch in his marriage to Karen, who, while the boys camp, contemplates an affair with Bobby, though she may have bigger problems with wounded Iraq war vet Brian, a case study in creepy stalker. The men, meanwhile, are being tracked by a beast and must contend with a vengeful roughneck roaming the woods. A taut plot and cast of deeply flawed characters--Justin is a masterwork of pitiable wretchedness--will keep readers rapt as peril descends and split-second decisions come to have lifelong repercussions. It's as close as you can get to a contemporary Deliverance. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

“It's as close as you can get to a contemporary Deliverance.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The men at the center of The Wilding, [Percy's] first novel, are not so much crafted as carved with a Buck knife from rough-hewn timber--splintery, deeply grained, primed to ignite. They are outdoorsmen and vets and suburban dads battling against the world, marriages and wars gone bad, lives that turned out wrong. And so they do what all men do, in their own ways: They take to the woods, to the gun, to another life. Fear and deadly choices come, because they always do--especially in the outdoors, especially in fiction by Benjamin Percy.” —Esquire

“There are a hundred ways to feel frightened and lost in a forest, and the excellent, savvy Benjamin Percy can evoke them all. The Wilding, a brilliant literary novel that feels at times almost like Geoffrey Household's classic Rogue Male, seems to have been written on his vibrating nerve endings. This book is filled with dread, sadness, tension, and a tireless vision of mankind's thoughtless devastation of an ancient and more authentic way of life. It is almost impossible to put down. James Dickey must have been whispering to Ben Percy in his sleep.” —Peter Straub

“Not your father's eco-novel. In compelling, image-driven prose, Benjamin Percy confounds the old polarities about wilderness and development by sending three generations of men into a doomed canyon, and letting so much hell break loose we can't tell the heroes from the villains-which feels exactly right. This is a dark, sly, honest, pleasing, slip-under-your-skin-and-stay-there kind of a book.” —Pam Houston

“Benjamin Percy's descriptive powers are so potent and evocative in this impressive debut that they sweep the reader out of his or her figurative armchair and into the Oregon wilderness, ready to fight to the death to preserve it. ” —Helen Schulman, author of A Day at the Beach and P.S.

The Wilding is a compelling action narrative, universal in its dimensions while utterly grounded in specific particulars. Benjamin Percy is a stunning storyteller. His fearful wildernesses, both physical and psychic, kept me up through the night.” —William Kittredge, author of Hole in the Sky and The Willow Field

“Benjamin Percy's The Wilding is a tour de force meditation and treatise on the nature of violence, the violence of nature, man in the wild, and the wild in man-cleverly disguised as a page-turning adventure. Not just a "must" read, but a need read, this book is timely, terrifying, terrific. ” —Antonya Nelson

The Wilding is a virtuoso blend of beauty and violence, hope and despair, tough and touching, lust and terror, literary craft and genre plotting. Like James Dickey, Benjamin Percy drags his characters into the wilderness--into a canyon as black as a gaping mouth, where they struggle to stay alive and in control of what makes them human-but for a new generation of readers concerned with the vanishing West. ” —Danielle Trussoni, author of Angelology and Falling Through the Earth

“Full of bravery and bravado, and it fairly crackles with life. These stories mark the beginning of what is bound to be a long and brilliant career for Benjamin Percy.” —Ann Patchett on Refresh, Refresh

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555970130
Publisher:
Graywolf Press
Publication date:
09/28/2010
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
343,589
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Benjamin Percy is the author of The Language of Elk and Refresh, Refresh. He has been awarded the Plimpton Prize and a Whiting Writers' Award, and has been included in Best American Short Stories. He teaches at Iowa State University.

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Wilding 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Author_RichardThomas More than 1 year ago
[This book review was originally posted at The Nervous Breakdown. Go there for the FULL REVIEW] The Wilding by Benjamin Percy is a powerful book packed with tension, unease, and life at the edge of the forest, where quite possibly man should stay. It is an intricate weaving of several different point of views: the fractured soldier back from fighting in Baghdad, Brian, who dresses up in the hide of wild animals, creeping around the woods, spying on a woman he longs for, eager for some sort of meaningful contact; Justin, the beaten down husband of Karen, a woman unhappy and distant after a miscarriage; their son, Graham, a bookworm, about to make his first kill; and the grandfather, Paul, watching over them all with disdain, longing to make men of his boys, at whatever cost. And looming at the edge of it all is the violence of nature, the push back of locals frustrated by the expansion of business, the unseen bear that haunts the Oregon woods, waiting to tear them apart. This story about man versus nature starts with the cover art, the black and white photograph of driftwood crowding out the darkness, barely keeping it at bay. The way the type slides towards the corner, getting smaller, the shadow hanging over the wood, the choice of the typeface even that lends itself to the swipe of a bear's paw across the cover, the author's name in blood red type. These are all little hints of what is to come. The book begins: "His father came toward him with the rifle. From where Justin sat at his desk-his homework spread before him-both his father and the gun appeared to be growing, so that when handed the weapon, he wasn't sure he was strong enough to carry it. Around his father, Justin had always felt that way, as if everything were bigger than he was." This fear is at the heart of The Wilding, this story about a boy, Justin, who grows into a man that lives in the shadow of his own father, Paul. Throughout the novel it is a recurring theme, the way Paul berates Justin for being less than a man, too weak to keep his wife in line, too afraid of everything, of failure, of letting loose and having fun, every shadow and rustle in the brush, of letting his own son Graham have a gun, shoot it, have his first beer--it never ends. This is a battle that Justin has to keep up, and he is tested, repeatedly, until in the end, he becomes his own person, watching his son grow up fast in the face of the violence and death they witness in the woods. Their relationship becomes a bond, out of survival, and the witnessing of their true character when faced with life-altering decisions. [continued at The Nervous Breakdown]
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Caitlin Woelfel More than 1 year ago
Percy is skilled in the craft of writing and it shows in nis handeling of diction and syntax. All his characters are well developed and complex, as are his plots. If you want to start 'small' with this author, I recommend his collection of short stories 'Refresh, Refresh'.
Suz44SR More than 1 year ago
I did not enjoy this book at all.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Total waste of money. Attempts at flowery oration overdone, poor plot and ending.
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