Advance Praise For Wilderness
Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain meets David Guterson’s East of the Mountains in this sweeping historical novel of a Civil War veteran’s last journey on the Pacific Coast.
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.
Advance praise for Wilderness:
“Here is a book in the great tradition of the novel: a vivid world that wraps and holds the reader who can well lose himself in its grandeur. The character is the beloved Abel Truman. The landscapes are huge. Abel’s story is both simple and rich, the novel unforgettable.”—Annie Dillard
“Lance Weller’s magnificent Wilderness is a brilliant, singular achievement. Now and again comes a novel that is so wholly its own that any comparison shrivels away. Lance Weller has given us this, not only in the tale, which is deeply compelling and superbly page-turning but most importantly, a thoughtful and illuminating exploration of who we are and how we got here. These people are heartrendingly beautiful, fragile and resilient but also ugly, hateful and hurtful. And Weller masterfully raises the stakes as he draws these webs of humanity with prose constructed with compelling art and ease.”—Jeffrey Lent, author of In the Fall
“Wilderness is a masterful novel of incident and redemption, hugely enterainting, full of pathos and humanity—frankly, it’s hard to believe that it’s a debut. Fans of Charles Frazier and Cormac McCarthy alike will thrill at Weller’s luminous prose and clear-eyed moral vision.”—Jonathan Evison, bestselling author of West of Here and All About Lulu
“Lance Weller’s Wilderness is a remarkable novel. It reads like a dream of history, and reads at a fever pitch. Its description of the carnage in the Battle of the Wilderness is so vivid and unrelenting that readers will never forget it. Yet at the novel’s heart is a gentle and diffident man who touches us with his humanity and courage. This is a stunning first novel.”—John Vernon, author of Lucky Billy: A Novel
“In Wilderness, Lance Weller uses an archaic, lyrical language to create not simply prose, but a song, a dirge and lamentation, that strips all glory and pride from the thunderous bloodletting of the Civil War as rudely and completely as a surgeon’s bone saw removes a mangled leg. This beautifully crafted tale of the transformational period between the nation’s most horrific cataclysm and the end of the century is peopled with characters fully-formed and vivid, noble and depraved, who will linger in the reader’s mind long after the last page has been turned.”—Lynn Schooler, author of Walking Home and The Blue Bear
“Rendered in powerful, richly detailed language that is at once grim and deeply moving, Wilderness interweaves the heartbreaking narratives of Civil War survivors—veterans, civilians, former slaves—whose lives are wrecked by unthinkable violence yet sustained by the tragic beauty still to be found in the world. Lance Weller writes with a quiet urgency that brings an immediacy to the past in the damaged bodies and haunted souls of his characters. A magnificent achievement!”—John Pipkin, author of Woodsburner
“Wilderness reawakens in us what we knew while discovering for the first time the work of the great writers—what it means to fall into the lives of characters riveting in their complexity, and to be so utterly transported into a tale and compelled through its pages. Set in the war-torn South and the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, this is the story of a country torn in two and of the hard healing afterward, of Abel Truman, a simple soldier, who journeys through the savagery of war and lawless men to a place of redemption. An exquisite telling, Lance Weller’s language evokes the moments that otherwise render us mute. This book is a knockout.”—Claire Davis, author of Winter Range and Season of the Snake