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Wilderness [Kindle Edition]

Lance Weller
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description


What's most gorgeous here is the language, Weller's descriptions of the natural world, the changing emotional terrain within his characters, and violence. The author seems to be reminding us that the Wilderness remains both without and within. A remarkable debut, deeply affecting and heartfelt (Gil Adamson, author of The Outlander)

Epic ...There is much to savour in this big, bold debut, including Weller's splendid descriptions of wildlife encountered in the trek ...This is a novel in which history's sound and fury is drowned out at last by the silence of the wilderness (Financial Times)

This portrait of a life is built up masterfully by Weller, in his debut novel, into a compassionate tale ... There is lots of great, descriptive landscape writing here, and all the flashbacks to the war are rendered in just as much evocative detail. It's a beautiful novel, resplendent in ornate, flowing prose (Herald)

An American Civil War epic for fans of Cold Mountain ... Traumatising, character-driven and written with serious literary intent (We Love This Book)

Book Description

Epic, heartbreaking and poetic, Wilderness is the story of the origins of a nation. It is a tale of a horrific war and the great evil it ended, of the kindness of strangers and the unbreakable bonds of memory and love.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 498 KB
  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1608199371
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (11 Oct 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008BJ3QVW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #241,863 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Lance Weller has published short fiction in several literary journals. He won Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Lance lives in the US and is a Washington State native, he has hiked and camped extensively in the landscape he describes. He lives in Gig Harbor, WA with his wife and several dogs.

Please stop by Lance's website and his blog

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wilderness - An overwritten novel 20 May 2013
This novel did not live up its promise. The idea was good and the storyline rich with potential, with the main characters subtly conceived and believable. However it fell short in several areas. The storylines relating to several of the subsidiary characters petered out and the reader was left unfulfilled as to their ultimate fate. It seemed that the writer discarded them when they served their purpose as far as he, not the reader, was concerned and, as he'd conceived them, that was his prerogative. However, when these sequences with the minor characters fizzled out, I was left wondering why the writer had bothered with any development of them - in some cases, why they'd been included at all.

Whilst reading this novel I found myself wondering who the book was written for and a recurring answer was the novelist seemed to be writing for himself. I can't help feeling that he lost sight of the fact that he was writing for a prospective readership.

The elements and nature itself manifested themselves as a characters; nothing wrong with that - think of King Lear - Mr. Weller, however indulged himself to the point where it seemed that he couldn't stop himself describing the aforesaid elements and aspects of nature in an admittedly lyrical yet also fulsome way - to the detriment of the plot. And this, in my opinion, is a major fault with this novel. Elmore Leonard said of writing of the weather "... you don't want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip." Also, the novelist didn't seem to grasp the concept of 'less is more' and he has evidently never read what Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch advised, "Murder Your Darlings", in this case the "darlings" being Mr.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Descriptive prose 8 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Vividly descriptive witness to the civil war's brutality and a journey through America in its formative years. If you want to feel the call of the wild - its right here. Exceptional book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars poignant and gripping 2 Nov 2013
I felt bereft when I finished this beautifully written tale of a reclusive veteran of the American Civil War. It may be poetic but it pulls no punches in describing the horrors and waste of war, visited in chapters looking to the past and interspersed with chapters following the dangers and trials of the present life of this lonely old man. Ultimately there is redemption in the kindness of strangers, the love of a faithful dog. One of the best novels I have read for a while, its characters haunt me still.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb page turner 22 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Beautifully written, if only I could write like this. As an avid reader, hundreds of books have passed through my hands, and I delight in each one ,but occasionally one comes upon a rare and joyous read that transports you to that world were you are walking in the characters footsteps, This book is wonderfully descriptive, an absolute joy to read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  263 reviews
70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Debut, Excellent Story 8 Aug 2012
By Addison Dewitt - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Wilderness" is a book that comes around once in a decade, if we're lucky. Lance Weller put off writing this literary masterpiece, went through a prolonged illness and then - with a unique and careful aging process - finished it. The rest of us are lucky he got the thing published because it's a wonderfully moving and epic first novel.

Hopefully, this book is not his last.

Weller's main character, Abel Truman, is key in the lives of several others and the reader is slowly drawn to him regardless of misgivings. Truman's life is harder than most, because of the Civil War, because of a tragic early marriage, because of his own bad decisions and mostly due to faulty luck. Regardless of what life throws at him, however, he perseveres and becomes heroic more than once. His ill-fated journey from the east to the west coast and Olympic mountains is seen through various time jumps, the backdrops being war-torn Appalachia contrasting with more pristine settings in coastal Washington state. A mix of innocents and evil men haunt his steps throughout. Truman's aging companion dog becomes the apex of his later years and serves as harbinger, guide and literary metaphor.

The writing is handsome, sharp, romantic... pure prose. Many paragraphs left me saying "Wow" out loud. Weller comes the closest to Cormac McCarthy than any other modern writer I've had the pleasure of reading, which is no small feat. Where McCarthy is unflinching with his nightmarish beauty, Weller softens the tone just enough. His craft renders scenery like a Hudson River-style masterpiece, which helps make the ever-present evil a bit less raw. Make no mistake, however, his evil men are every bit as horrifying as any McCarthy bad guy. There are equal doses of terror, heart-rending sadness, humor and pure good. Abel Truman is both raspy curmudgeon and saint and Weller does an excellent job of showing a tender heart through the ragged edges of his character's exterior. A somewhat bothersome device is the (lately) over-used treatment of time shifts and flashbacks. In my opinion, a chronological route might have helped this story, save the first character, Jane Dao-ming Poole's flashback - which was handled with excellence.

Regardless, I was truly swept away by this book and felt for his characters, especially the women whose tortured lives are intertwined throughout. Not many writers can wrench those kind of emotions from me. Congratulations, Lance Weller, you've given this old reader's heart a much needed prodding. I can't recommend this book strongly enough. It will be one that stays firmly in my collection. Five rare stars.
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Improved as He Traveled 6 Sep 2012
By Richard A. Mitchell - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you like sentences that, due to a multitude of adjectives and adverbs, go on for five or six lines, this is the book for you. Some of the book, particularly at the beginning, seemed like a college writing exercise: "How many metaphors can you fit on a page?" It was so dense, I almost put the book down. At the outset, the writing overshadowed the story. As the main character began his trek and the Battle of the Wilderness started, the story-telling improved mightily.

The book is told in two parts, and switches back and forth. In 1899, Abel Truman seems to realize he is dying and wants to make a long trek through the mountain pass. He leaves his isolated shack on the ocean in the Pacific northwest in what seems to be a last march to his death. Interspersed are accounts of the Battle of the Wilderness where he was injured and saved. Due to way the book switches back and forth, it takes a while to fit the pieces of his personal history together from his references being made in 1899. Once the pieces are together, both stories flow much better and the reader becomes rapt.

After the tenuous start, this book is a terrific character study. I am sure it would be excellent fodder for book clubs as so much can be read into it. I recommend it with the caution that it will take most readers a while to get into it and I wish Mr. Weller had been a tad more succinct in his writing.
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeking the comfort of stars from earthbound anguish and loss 27 Aug 2012
By loce_the_wizard - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I usually do not read the reviews from various other authors or critics that mar book covers or jackets (and test the patience and humor of graphic designers, no doubt) like graffiti on a library. But after I finished reading "Wilderness," I simply could not put the book away, so I looked over the out-of-context comments and, I sort of agreed with the high praise.

Lance Weller writes with the precision and seasoning that attest to work in the trenches---revisions, rejections, and more revisions---all part of the effort of crafting a fine novel. It is hard to pause and dig into the depth of this writing as the story pulls one along like a strong river. So I find myself going back, rereading short passages, admiring the fit and flow of the words or the cleverness of a simile: "The cool, stinging wind of a single bullet passed close to his cheek like the first quick kiss of a girl."

I still keep the book close so I can scoop out a few words or sentences and linger over them. (I tend to do this with Walker Percy novels, too.)

The story of Abel Truman is that of an every man who is dealt a series of body blows that should have stopped him in his tracks, both from the physical pain and the emotional anguish he experiences. Instead, he finds a way to clutch and hold the threads of humanity and kindness that run counter to the harshness, hate, cruelty, ignorance, and violence. The narrative spans two timelines, one during the events both preceding and following the Civil War Battle of the Wilderness, the second 35 years later at the cusp of a new century, playing out on the coastal Pacific Northwest.

How Abel actually found his way there is not the story, but why he went and why he intended to leave are integral. Mr. Weller twists the two strands into one story, not seamless, but balanced, both full of moments of horror and splendor. Redemption, when it tries to flourish, seems short lived, and the men and women who live and die in this story each casts his or her own strong shadow over the landscape of the book. Abel Truman lurks more than looms at times, from a shadow who can somehow live through the carnage and madness of war in Virginia, to a man living alone and almost ghost like in the "far northwest corner of the United States." Abel, when we meet him, has lived his life largely alone, seeking the comfort of the stars from earthbound anguish and loss and living out his years with only the most bare-bones existence.

He knows that the causes of the Civil War still fester and that its long, jagged scars have not healed enough to hold the terrible events he and other combatants experienced at bay. But Truman is a paradox, a Yankee who fought with the Rebels, a succor for the needy and injured despite his own travails, a hard-boiled old man who loves his dog deeply. Mr. Weller uses his main character deftly to reveal what it was like to come upon the wounded, dead, and dying after a battle or to feel a deer die with his hands hovering over its slowing heart. The richness of the story matches well with Mr. Weller's style of writing, of taking his time to set up a scene then springing some unexpected or surprising conclusion, before moving on the next part of the story.

OK, back to the book. Good does not always mean an easy read, to be prepared for some discomforting depictions of life during the last third of the 19th century and be thankful this is not your story.

I have one quibble with the book that I must air here. It's the prologue. I wish that the prologue had been the epilogue and that I had not read it until I had finished the novel. I learned things in the prologue that I did not need to know that soon, things that, in my opinion, would be better learned at the end of the story.

(And I have a quibble with all the folks who in their quoted comments praise this novel as a debut or first work. Please stop. Every writer who endures long enough to get a work finally published got there over the bones of discarded, fractured, and incomplete works.)
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Good Writing; Poor Story Structure" 11 Aug 2012
By John Mercier - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There are two stories here of Abel Truman. One is when Abel is a soldier in the Civil War in 1864 and the other is when Abel is a crippled ex-soldier living in a shack along the Pacific Ocean in 1899. There is a way to write flashbacks into a story and a way not to and in my opinion the author used the way not to. The paragraphs are a little long and I had a difficult time keeping the characters and two story lines straight in my mind, since in both Abel is hurt and is rescued numerous times. This novel could have been better presented as one story with one timeline.

This being said, the author, Lance Weller, is a wonderful descriptive writer. He has a way of beautifully describing the sights and sounds of a story involving violence and tragedy. In Abel's war experiences and struggles in the years after, the author also brings to the reader the hardships of the peoples of our nation after a war some say will never end.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow Going 9 Dec 2012
By Pen Name - Published on
I agree with other reviewers that state this is two books in one. I preferred the Civil War soldier portion and had a hard time keeping the crippled old soldier part straight. Although the book is relatively short at 291 pages it took me a long time to get through it. I liked the book and made it to the end, but do not feel I could strongly recommend it. It is at times quiet and beautiful and at times brutal and deeply sad. I would read another book by Lance Weller, so I guess that is an endorsement of his writing. It reminded me at times of "Cold Mountain".
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