Michelle's Reviews > The Wilding

The Wilding by Benjamin Percy
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May 08, 2011

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bookshelves: powell-s-indiespensables
Read from November 06, 2010 to May 01, 2011

3.5 out of 5 stars.

I have a hard time deciding on a ranking. Benjamin Percy is a GREAT writer. This book reminded me a lot of Per Petterson’s ‘I Curse the River of Time’ in that it nailed the human condition. You could see the paths these people had taken, how it changed them, molded them into the people they currently are, and they’re all thinking, Is this me? Is this okay? My relationship with my wife/husband, my relationship with my father, and (as corny as this sounds) my relationship with myself? Do I love me? The person I’ve become? Is this how I want to be? Especially sad and difficult to read are any parts from Brian’s perspective. Brian is our veteran, never very socially “with it”, an isolated man. Part of you understands his pain and awkwardness, the other part of you is incredibly creeped out. The war, at the time, gave him purpose and even connections with people, but it’s also erased any hope of normalcy that he could have had.

I did have a few problems with the book that brought down the ranking. For example, can we stop calling Paul “Justin’s father”? Any time his actual name would come up, I would feel like, Who the heck is Paul? I understand the main character is Justin, and a lot of the book centers around his relationship with his father. But everybody else is Karen or Graham or whoever. Please stop rubbing in that this is his father. I can remember the name Paul and his relationship to Justin if you would just call him by his name! Justin’s son Graham also sometimes didn’t work for me. His character just didn’t seem fleshed out enough and kind of fluctuated to whatever purpose Percy needed at the time. Or would just be completely ignored. Like sometimes we focused so much on the interaction of Justin and Paul, I would eventually think, Where the heck did Graham go? We’re camping in the middle of the woods and he’s a little kid, so I know he’s there—tell me what he’s doing. And sometimes while we were in the middle of the woods, I would kind of drift off as Percy would describe rocks and trees and rivers, etc.

Back to Graham, though. Favorite part: When he says “F---ing sh--” because I sure as hell was thinking it too.
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