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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  733 ratings  ·  178 reviews
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. ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,702)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 04, 2013 Jeffrey Keeten rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jeffrey by: Diana Barnes
”The shack creaked softly with the wind while the tide hissed all along the dark and rocky shore. The moon glowed full from amidst the rain clouds, casting a hard light that slid like grease atop the water. The old man watched ivory curlers far to sea rise and subside noiselessly. Within the bounds of his little cove stood sea stacks weirdly canted from the wind and the waves. Tide-gnawed remnants of antediluvian islands and eroded coastal headlands, the tall stones stood monolithic and forbiddi ...more
In a word: Wow. Hard as it is to believe, Lance Weller's WILDERNESS, polished and accomplished, is listed as a debut novel. If you love literary fiction, enjoy reading a writer's writer, and have an affinity for Civil War literature, you can't do better than this.

This is the story of Abel Truman, a veteran of the Civil War, an odd sort of Everyman who hails from New York yet fights for the South because he is in North Carolina during the outbreak of hostilities. The chapters alternate between 18
Oct 20, 2013 Erwin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Erwin by: Jeffrey Keeten
A wonderful and sad story of an old soldier and his dog companion going on a quest. We get flashbacks to his soldiering days in the Civil War (the battle of the Wilderness 1864). The images from the front lines are very much "alive". The story itself is very well written. I didn't have a lot of time lately to read for long hours at a time so I had to put this book away (too) many times before finishing it. Yet every time I opened the book to read another few pages I was immediately drawn in. I w ...more
Nathan Moore
Prepare yourself for a raving review. This is the best book I've read this year. This may be the best book I've read since Cormac Mccarthy's "The Road." It may even, “gasp”... be even better than “The Road.”

For me, literary fiction has been an acquired taste. Perhaps this is so because I had to work through the perceived trauma of being forced as a student to read beautiful works before I had eyes for them. I had to acclimate myself to the author’s style during the first 100 pages and was not in
My recent interview with Lance Weller can be read @

This novel was storytelling rich in setting and characters amidst days of the civil war.
The author writes with some wonderful prose and eloquently words in the right places reminiscent of the writings of Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy in style of writing at times. You will read sentences that really describe well the setting, the terrible and the beauty of the world contained within these pa
I've thinking lately about the term "literary fiction". It's a kind of an elusive term - but generally it is used to denote a certain quality to the way the book is written, to the care given to the sentences, as when they make you pause or suddenly see something new or something old in a new way. There's a presence you detect in literary fiction - the unhurried presence of an author who has taken as much time as he needs and given the book a chunk of his flesh. This book is literary fiction at ...more
Melissa Crytzer Fry
I’ll start with this: Wilderness is THE book I’ve been waiting for this year. In fact, if I could give it more than five stars, I would. Without a doubt, it is among my all-time favorite reads, so rich is it in sensory detail and drinkable prose.

The title of the book, alone, spoke to my natural sensitivities: Wilderness. You learn early on that the title has double meaning and a symbolic significance that influences the story of Abel Truman … an old man alone, reclusive, with no one in the worl
Krista Stevens
First I loved the prose - so lyrical. Then I grew a little tired of that. Then I grew more tired of the relentless sorrow and suffering (and I love "The Road" so that tells you something) and violence that Abel encounters in his long life from being a husband/father/Civil War soldier and veteran. At every turn, he is abused by one or another of nasty characters or fate. I actually stopped reading half way through, then read through Goodreads reviews and picked it up again and was able to finish ...more
This is an extravagant, thoughtful, graphic, and hugely entertaining book. The author describes it as a "literary" novel. Oh, lord, yet another genre - fiction is getting to be as bad a music - and I take it "literary" means language rich, as in prosody, or poetic, or musical, or "ruling itself alone." (My coinage.) Well, Wilderness is all those things, and as Lance Weller is suffering (and maybe reveling in) comparisons with Cormac McCarthy, and Wm. Faulkner, I suppose the book is "literary." O ...more
Diane Barnes
This book gets 5 stars because I just finished reading it and I am still in awe of Lance Weller's talent. Wow! His first novel, Wow! His masterful descriptions of both nature and battle scenes, Wow! His characters, maimed and wounded both physically and emotionally, but still able function in the world and maintain their own goodness, drove me to tears more than once. And his decriptions of Gettysburg and the battle of the Wilderness drove home the reality and sadness of the Civil War like nothi ...more
Sam Still Reading
Nov 19, 2012 Sam Still Reading rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of historical and literary fiction
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: sent by the publisher - thank you
In between the two covers of this rather innocent looking book are some of the most evocative and emotional prose I have ever read. Be warned: this book is a journey that you certainly won’t forget in a hurry.

Wilderness packs a punch to the senses in more ways than one. It opens with a blind elderly lady, but this lady is not our main character. She’s thinking about Abel, a soldier she met many years during a horrific winter. We then move back in time to Abel, as an old man making one last journ
May 25, 2013 Kathryn marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I am looking forward to reading this book. I must say that I am concerned that nothing happens to the dog...that will make difficult reading for me.
Jason Reeser
Wow. I don't hardly know where to begin. I haven't been this impressed with a book in a long time. Lance Weller has created a beautiful work of art in this novel. Mixing a story of a man and his dog in the Northwest wilderness of 1899 with that same man in the Wilderness campaign of the Civil War in 1864, Weller takes us on a mystical exploration of a dark time as seen through the eyes of broken but good man. With tragedy worthy of Shakespeare, Weller cuts back and forth from the two time period ...more
Wilderness is the story of Abel Truman, and the events surrounding two traumatic periods that define his life: the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864, and his attempt in 1899 to leave the wilderness where he has isolated himself for 35 years and find a bit of redemption before he dies.

Abel's a northerner who went wandering after the tragic death of his wife and child and somehow ends up fighting for the Confederates. His real loyalties are to a couple of somewhat pathetic friends, survivors of th
Gina Scioscia
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 centra ...more
Christian Kiefer
A marvelous debut by Lance Weller. Shades of Cormac McCarthy, Frazier's Cold Mountain, and McMurtry's Lonesome Dove. An adventure novel at heart but with a heavy literary (and literate) bent. Not a bad sentence in the book and it moves like a rocket. Like Hawthorne on speed.
I picked this up after reading a glowing review from a friend. The story starts a bit slow, and it is puzzling to try to piece it all together at the start. In fact, I didn't really "like" the book until about three-quarters of the way through it, and didn't love it until the end.

From the start, it is plain to see, that Weller is a great wordsmith. He crafts beautiful sentences that keep you reading, even if the story isn't really there yet. Even his characters, while interesting, are difficult
One word.....AMAZING!

Historical fiction of historical proportions. I can't even find words to describe just how good this book is.

Abel's story is so completely engrossing from start to finish. It so well written, deeply affecting and emotional. Humility and humanity taught at the hand's of war. The author takes the time to delve deeply into the heart this character. We get to know Able better than he knows himself. We get to see the good in himself that he can't. We get to see what he has lost a
So I have finished the ten page prologue. And it is beautiful. So beautiful.

There is much to think about already in these few paragraphs. Jane is living in an assisted living facility and opportunities to interrelate with others are rare. Her main contact is with Michael, the nurse who makes the daily rounds on a tight schedule. We come to understand that he stops in only once a day, because at breakfast time, they are discussing what she wants for dinner, peas or corn, as he rummages through he
Virginia Campbell
Brutal, yet not without beauty, and unsentimental, yet eminently poignant, "Wilderness", from debut novelist Lance Weller is simply unforgettable. A war never truly ends. The battlegrounds may become silent, but the inner conflicts never really cease. The unthinkable tragedy of the War Between the States, in which Americans fought against each other on American soil, is brought to vivid life in the memories of Abel Truman, the protagonist of "Wilderness". Having suffered and survived much, Abel ...more
This is the 61st book I've read, this year, the pivot point for my goal of 121. I can't think of a finer book to have placed at the heart of my reading year, and I'll be running out to buy it in hardcover now.

Lance Weller takes his rightful place among a cohort of Northwest authors who are among the greatest living authors in the U.S. His debut novel is the story of an old Confederate veteran, Abel Truman whose journey east through the Olympic Peninsula wilderness while being pursued by brigands
Susan Tekulve
Wow. Just finished reading the final word of this exquisite book. Instead of closing it, I turned to the first page and started reading it all over again. It's that kind of book. The plot line is simple; it's a journey story about a Civil War veteran named Abel. This man has experienced loss of every kind; he's literally accumulated rivulets of scars upon scars on his body. He's dying, and yet he attempts to make a final journey back over the Olympic Mountains, toward his original home. The stor ...more
Justin Sorbara-Hosker
I read an interview with Kent Haruf once; he was talking about reading over the first draft of a novel he'd been writing, and was disappointed to see that he had to trash the entire thing and start over. He'd been reading a lot of Cormac McCarthy, and it was obvious.

Kind of uncharitable of me to start this review that way, but I wonder if Lance Weller had the same thought. That said, his novel is great, it just echoes McCarthy (and Frazier's Cold Mountain), in terms of both style and subject mat
Literary Review The
Lance Weller

(New York: Bloomsbury, 2013)

By Thomas E. Kennedy

"Wilderness" was reviewed in The Literary Review
"Loss Control" Fall 2012, The Shortlist

John Steinbeck wrote that a country has to experience war every twenty years so that each generation can know its horrors. Lance Weller’s beautifully written novel Wilderness is as powerful an experience of war and battle—particularly the three- day 1864 Civil War Battle of the Wilderness—as this old peace-time soldi
Wilderness is a beautifully written and moving novel about the horrors of war and the power of nature. It alternates between the almost surreal violence of the 1864 Battle of the Wilderness during the American Civil War and the impersonal, almost casual, cruelty of the wilderness of the Washington peninsula in 1899. It also deals with the strong bonds that form between soldiers as well as among many of the inhabitants of isolated settlements.

This is the kind of novel that comes along rarely, the
Baxter Trautman
Jul 14, 2013 Baxter Trautman rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Cormac McCarthy, Hemingway, "Cold Mountain" fans.
Shelves: fiction
There will be inevitable comparisons to Cormac McCarthy but Weller's prose is clearer, his story more finely drawn as he shoulders his readers deep into the dark, beautiful, terrible world of men who have lost everything but the essence of themselves.
Beth Cato
I received this electronic Advanced Reading Copy through NetGalley. The book is released in September 2012.

Wilderness is a book you'll be hearing and reading a lot about in the coming months. It's just that sort of book, though in this case the buzz is well-deserved. I confess, I struggled with the first few chapters. It starts slowly, with excessive, almost purple descriptions. It also gave away the ending right away, which left me puzzled--shouldn't I be left wondering who survived?

In this cas
Civil war veteran Abel Truman lives in a shack by the Pacific Ocean in Washington's Olympic Mountain range. Stern, anti-social, and living the life of a hermit, he knows life is winding down for him, and as it does so, he finds himself on an unexpected quest. He endures tremendous trials, as his memories and past hardships are slowly revealed to us.

I loved this book! And it's a bit surprising how much I loved it, considering it is strongly narrative, and I am more of a dialogue-driven reader. Bu
This is the story of Abel Truman, a veteran of the American Civil War. Told as a remembrance by Jane Dao-Ming Poole, whom he rescued one cold winter night in 1899. This is the story of a man, whose life travelled from one sadness to another, as he ends up a soldier, and then a recluse on the Pacific west coast. This is a story of love, and how it runs strong within those whom we think do may not have the capacity. This is a story of a man, alone, but for his dog, who in the end, discovers someth ...more
Jaime Boler
Absolutely amazing! Best novel of year! I loved it so much I sought out the author for an interview. He accepted. This is the full interview.

Interview with Wilderness Author Lance Weller

Jaime Boler: Lance, thank you so much for letting me interview you. Did you always want to be a writer?

Lance Weller: For as long as I can remember, yes. My maternal grandmother had dreams of being a writer and always had the accoutrements of the craft lying around—pens, pads of paper, a really excellent typewrite
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“It knew these things the same way a dog knows well the heart of the man it loves and understands it in better ways than the man could ever hope.” 4 likes
“I'm American. Like I told you. And I'm American and not something else because they failed that day. They couldn't do it and most of them probably knew they couldn't do it before they even started, but they went anyhow. There's honor in that. I don't reckon there's much honor left in the world now, but they had it that day and I honor them on both sides by knowing what I can about it. Much as I can.” 2 likes
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