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The Wilds

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  813 ratings  ·  143 reviews
At an obscure South Carolina nursing home, a lost world reemerges as a disabled elderly woman undergoes newfangled brain-restoration procedures and begins to explore her environment with the assistance of strap-on robot legs. At a deluxe medical spa on a nameless Caribbean island, a middle-aged woman hopes to revitalize her fading youth with grotesque rejuvenating therapie ...more
Paperback, 370 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Tin House Books (first published September 22nd 2014)
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Samantha Catrin Welz-Stein (cover image)
Diane Chonette (cover design)

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3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  813 ratings  ·  143 reviews

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I can't do this anymore. I really tried, but I just can't continue. Something must be wrong with me. Everyone is raving about this and it's quite evident The Wilds is full of agile, incredible writing. It brims and overflows with creativity. Elliot is a wordsmith, riffing with language like a master musician. But--yes, there is a but, it is so laden with ugliness, so seeped in revulsion for the human body, that I feel icky after every story I read.

"Mom has refused to give me a home perm, which
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: PW 8/11/14
Reviewing a short story collection is a bit of a conundrum - do you review story by story or the overall feeling of the collection as a whole? I always worry that overall feeling sells the moments of greatness short while writing a review of each story is certainly time consuming.

Overall impression: I love the mixing of genres in these stories. I want readers to grow more comfortable not knowing what to expect, and Elliott is a good author to stretch a reader outside of his or her comfort zone.
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
THE WILDS ist eines der herausragenden Leseerlebnisse dieses Jahres!
Ich tue mich schwer damit, die Faszination, die die Stories auf mich ausüben, genau begründen zu können. Zunächst ist zu sagen, dass Julia Elliott rein sprachlich schon eine großartige Erzählerin ist, wortgewaltig, witzig, verstörend, mit einem einzigartigen Tonfall - alles, was man von Erzählern erwartet und doch so selten geboten bekommt.
Ihre Texte sind funkelnde Kristalle, die aus verschiedenen Winkeln betrachtet in allen Fa
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Copy provided by GoodReads First Reads program.

This book was weird. Gross. Uncomfortable. Icky. I found it also: funny, charming, well-written, and a great collection of short stories.

I had a feeling I might be in for a treat based on the cover alone. The stories contain elements of danger, sexuality, and the basic want to be accepted.

The only thing that I didn't like is that I felt that each story could have been a book on its own. Each story made me want to know what happened before the mom
Diane S ☔
Sep 12, 2014 rated it liked it
1st story 'The Whipping' strange, how easily the strange is accepted as normal within a family.

2nd story, Limbs, rather fascinating and innovative, senior and dementia home where some are given brain stimulation and limbs that work to help some walk again.

3rd story Feral. Packs of wild dogs terrorize. Very visual but seemed to go on forever. Least favorite so far.

4th story. Jaws

Started out keeping track of these stories. Very strong writing and very strong images. My favorite is "Limbs:, loved
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
If they still teach southern lit at UGA, I hope they put this book on the syllabus. "Southern gothic" with a dash of satire, it's as if Wednesday Addams moved to the south and became a writer (and foodie -- the same sensibilities - as well as recurring themes - run through the different stories). Whether it is a kid in one of the stories, a narrator in another story, or the author overall, there is this irrepressible imagination and need to entrance a "captive audience" with outrageous tales. So ...more
Noelia Alonso
Jun 20, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2016
11 short stories. I enjoyed 3. I DNFed 5. The remaining 3 were okay. I knew they were gonna be bizarre but I guess I wasn't in the mood for this. A shame.
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I’m going to rip off something from Matt Bell’s Facebook page for my review of The Wilds By Julia Elliot:

“It's easier for people to let go if the world is strange. In a realist story, it sometimes feels like you're reading someone else's story. In a certain kind of non-realist story, the slight unfamiliarity of events unfolding in a familiar setting can let you inhabit a story, can make you feel like its happening to you.”

The quote is from a talk writer Diane Cook gave to Bell’s undergrad worksh
Elle Maruska
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved how absolutely, unapologetically gross this collection was. The author lovingly describes the disgusting details of being human, of being organic lifeforms, of being in love and growing up and growing old and trying to figure out how much of you is real and how much artifice. It's in the surgically disinfected that Elliott finds despair and disgust and it's in the acceptance of existence as disgusting and messy that her characters eventually find absolution. This was an amazingly unique ...more
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Julia Elliott's The Wilds.

A fantastical collection of short stories, a Katamari ball of psychics, vegans, and other trendy pop-intellectual characters all fleshed out in the most cartoonish way. She loves the zany, media buzzwords. She's got an effusive vocab. It's all mouthwash green sneakers and disgusting can't-look-away reality tv-lit.

The Wilds was undercooked, I'd say. They were stories that you were interested in, but they came out all gooey, and pointless. Very shiny, not much under the
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of short stories.

I thought this book was really beautifully written. There is definitely a certain dark intensity about all of the stories in this book. I had a few favorites, and there were a few I just found incredibly disturbing! It was still a very interesting and different read from anything I'v read lately. I wasn't crazy about how all the stories seemed to just end without any sort of resolution, but I think that was part of the point. It worked better from some stor
Michael Adams
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Whimsical, lyrical, effervescent prose. Imaginative storytelling that skirts between literary and speculative with a a sense of wonder and abandon. A charming collection, through and through.
Sally Balboa
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Like most people the cover is what drew me in, I mean it really is a cool thing that grabs your interest before you even know what the book is about. I'm glad to tell you that the book is equally as good, so feel free to judge a book by it's cover, this time.

The Wilds is a contemplation of short stories, ranging from sci-fi, strange romance, dystopian, normal, and some things that don't really have names because not enough people write about them. The stories all range at about 30-40 pages each.
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What an incredible collection. While the very first story, "The Whipping," didn't quite hold my attention at first, I just skipped ahead to "LIMBs," which I can't help but think of as the cynical Millennial's answer to The Notebook, and loved. "Feral" was even better, if disturbing and more than a little gross. Then I hit what I think is my favorite story, "Jaws." I was cringe-laughing in horrified recognition in passages like this: "You plot a special blog entry called Racist Shit My Mother Say ...more
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a great collection--one I'm glad to have read before relinquishing most of my reading autonomy to the remainder of the semester. While there is a story named "Feral" in here, that's how the whole collection felt...gloriously so. I loved the snark and ribbing of post-industrial malaise while also wondering at the mess we humans have made. I appreciated the exploration of old age in "LIMBs" and "Jaws" and felt a particular pull from the primal, grimy thrum of youth in the title story. Thi ...more
Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈
Obsessed with this cover.

Book Riot Community
I had such a hard time picking my favorite book of 2014 so I chose The Wilds based on which author I’d like to read again. The creativity and unbridled view of the future is beautifully done in this Southern Gothic short story collection. I was fascinated by a short piece in which the elderly main character receives the help of robotic legs as she struggles with past romances. Another short is a bit more down to Earth, yet not so grounded at the same time– a young girl goes on a slumber party an ...more
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories, sff
Hmm. These stories really did have a potential, they all posited interesting, unique speculative fiction scenarios and were undoubtedly well-written but I came away from each one feeling dissatisfied.  It was like she didn't know what to do with the ideas once they were fleshed out and detailed. Sometimes I actually enjoy short stories with vague or ambiguous endings but it's rather grating in stories that clock in at 30--40 pages apiece.

There was also the odd vein of, I don't know, something a
Oct 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kim by: Dear Fahrenheit 451
These stories are bizarre, like a dream you might have where you aren’t sure if it’s a nightmare or not and then something completely absurd happens. You are caught off guard and start laughing and wake yourself up before the end, so you’re kind of annoyed, even though it was awful and you're also glad it's over. When you tell your dream to your spouse/roommate/partner/parent/child/first-person-you-see-when-you wake-up, you realize what you just shared was completely inappropriate and not actual ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
I’m torn between two and three stars because I liked the stories yet hated where they ended and actually thought to myself several times while reading this that maybe I don’t like short stories probably two stars.
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Loved the language throughout. Not quite as thrilled with the actual stories. I could be biased though, because generally I am not as fond of short story anthologies.

Beautiful use of language though.
Kristin MB
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So, I've enjoyed all of the stories so far, some more than others, but my gawd! "The Whipping" was incredible. I absolutely adored it. Funny and interesting and a complete delight to read! I want to finish the book...but also want to read this story over and over again!

UPDATE: Julia Elliott is definitely a kindred spirit. I feel like she just gets me, even though we never met. Paleo and permaculture, t. gondii, temporary vegetarianism, making silly music, old people, wild people. This book prett
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Wilds by Julia Elliott is according to

At an obscure South Carolina nursing home, a lost world reemerges as a disabled elderly woman undergoes newfangled brain-restoration procedures and begins to explore her environment with the assistance of strap-on robot legs. At a deluxe medical spa on a nameless Caribbean island, a middle-aged woman hopes to revitalize her fading youth with grotesque rejuvenating therapies that combine cutting-edge medical technologies with holistic approach
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
One of those books you pick up off the shelves because something about it calls to you. Yes, I guess I sometimes judge a book by its cover, and the book didn't disappoint. Each short story was somehow simultaneously familiar and completely new. Familiar, not that I knew where it was going or that I had ever experienced anything even close to the events portrayed, but familiar in that they explored the most human of experiences and with no veils covering often unspoken experiences and emotions - ...more
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
reversing aging with science. would that really be a good thing? using science and 'magic' to 'change your life', how bout that? find out here.
elliott's crazy ideas remind me of beukes dystopian sci fi Moxyland

Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic collection of Southern Gothic meets Sci-fi meets biochemistry meets dystopia meets.... It's actually impossible to describe except for good, really good. Repeating tropes such a acne, feral dogs, pheromones, and too abrupt ending that leave a few of the stories unresolved mark this one star short of truly excellent but nothing can take away from its absurd brilliance.
Aug 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Quick, clever, and quite readable, these stories remind me a little bit of Kelly Link's-- in how they bring genre tropes and subversions to grimy realism-- but are more straightforward and frankly more enjoyable. A couple of the stories didn't do much for me, but I'm glad to have read the collection for the several that did.
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Julia Elliot's The Wilds effortlessly blends elements of southern gothic, magical realism, science fiction, and speculation fiction into a single tome of short stories, each one being truly spectacular. It's a literary gumbo with all the perfect ingredients, cooked to perfection.
Giovanna Forsyth
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
So weird. So grotesque. This author loves her pheromones.
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Julia Elliott’s writing has appeared in Tin House, The Georgia Review, Conjunctions, The New York Times, Granta online, Electric Literature, and other publications. She has won a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award, and her stories have been anthologized in Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses and The Best American Short Stories. Her debut story collection, The Wilds, was chosen by Kirkus, BuzzFeed, Bo ...more
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“Suddenly I’d found myself past thirty, shacked up with a fussy bald man nine years my senior who enjoyed monitoring every facet of our household—finances, thermostat, hot-water heater, water and electricity usage, lawn maintenance, and pest control.” 0 likes
“off, and the American Empire declines slowly, we could spend the rest of our thirties parodying our twentysomething personas and retire at age forty after pimping our nubile selves.” 0 likes
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