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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (275 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Lance Weller Narrator: Richard Po Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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

  • Wilderness is a masterful novel of incident and redemption, hugely entertaining, 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

  • “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, in his book’s 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

  • “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

  • “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

  • “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

  • 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

  • “Weller has crafted a novel of stories within stories, all interwoven in prose so exquisite and descriptive that you will want to read Wilderness more than one time, and all in one sitting to capture this novel in its salvific beauty. Put aside your day, open up Wilderness and take a dive into this fabulous work of fiction.”

    Annie Philbrook, Bank Square Books

  • “[An] elegiac story…Weller describes Northwest scenery with masterful detail.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Riveting…Comparisons to Charles Frazier’s 1997 Cold Mountain are inevitable, but this may be the better book.”

    Jackson (MS) Free Press

  • “Tender and resonant, Weller’s debut is not an epic saga of war, but a skillful exploration of the interconnectedness of humanity and the endurance of compassion.”

    Shelf Awareness

  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2012

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Gina Scioscia | 2/20/2014

    " Wilderness opens like a poem, demanding your attention, requesting your ear. The lyrical prose makes one slow to its cadence and learn to read all over again. Yet, the story itself, what I consider central to a novel, loses me in the end. If you are a fan of literary fiction it is well worth the read--the prose is polished and wondrous, and there were many moments when the turn of phrase took my breath away. Yet, the characters themselves I found wanting and one dimensional. Abel, as the central character, is the most robust and evokes the most empathy, but the other characters lacked depth and development; I only felt sorry for them. The brutality and violence of the Civil War, as well as the western territories during the 19th Century in which the novel is set, take center stage, and the author cannot seem to wrest a human individual from this time, except to define her/him by the violence done against them. I wish that Weller had turned his gifted writing to develop the characters in his novel; if the attention he paid to describe the landscapes should turn to evoke the intricacies of the human heart, the work would be outstanding. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Judi | 2/14/2014

    " didn't finish it. Got bored. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Susan Sorenson | 2/12/2014

    " I loved this book. It was beautifully written. It broke my heart a half dozen times. When I finished it, I started it over again...it was that lovely. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Betty McMahon | 2/7/2014

    " What everybody said about the book is true. Excellent writing and plotting. I won't compare it to Cold Mountain though; that's one of my all-time favorite books. I must say too that after reading Abel's grim story, I won't take thermal clothing, quilted jackets and gloves, warm boots and cozy houses for granted anymore! They sure made them tough back then. "

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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. A Washington native, he has hiked and camped extensively in the landscape he describes. He lives in Gig Harbor, Washington, with his wife and several dogs.