Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Trailer Park Tuesday: Wilderness by Lance Weller

Welcome to Trailer Park Tuesday, a showcase of new book trailers and, in a few cases, previews of book-related movies.

I normally reserve this space for trailers highlighting new and forthcoming books, but today I make an exception by reaching into the near-distant past to look at a novel which came out in 2012 (on the same day as my own Fobbit, as it turns out). Wilderness by Lance Weller is well worth a backwards glance. It’s been on my To-Be-Read list for a shameful amount of time. As this new year is now underway and my reading resolutions are still sharp and gleaming, I finally got around to cracking it openpartly because next week I’ll be driving my daughter to her new home in Washington state (Weller’s home turf and the setting for part of the novel), but mostly because I was in the mood for some writing that would sit on my tongue rich and delicious as a chocolate truffle. Wilderness, which moves effortlessly from the rugged Pacific Northwest coast in 1899 to a gore-spattered Civil War battlefield three decades earlier, is indeed dense with evocative language. I am moving slowly through the pages because there is so much to savor here. Take this paragraph, for instance, describing the reaction of a Confederate soldiercold and weary on the battlefieldto a shirt he’s just received from his mother:
The thin cotton kept within its fiber and its weave something of the handmade smells of home and home life. Old cooking smells of buttered corn and boiled cabbage, of great bleeding flank steaks and potatoes, carrots, onions, all smothered in gravy and served on thick platters engraved with blue Chinese scenes of cherry blossoms, fog-wrapped pagodas, strange, umbrella’d maidens. He could smell fresh blueberries and cold milk. And there was, also, his mother’s smell: matronly, womanish, and as distinct as her florid signature or her sharp, cool whisper at prayertimes and candlelighting. Her scent was as though woven into the shirt and now a part of it and never to be separate from it ever.
That’s just one passage, plucked at random. There are plenty more like it in this gorgeous Wilderness. The trailer itself shows Weller at his desk and out walking along the rocky coast of Washington, along with some graphic illustrations from the Battle of the Wilderness, which is the setting for the unforgettable trauma suffered by the main character, Abel Truman. The video does a good job of telling us what the novel is about, without giving away too many details. It’s the kind of trailer that would make me want to pick up the book and start reading it. If only I’d seen it four years ago.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. I"m headed to VA to visit a son this summer and also wanted to visit some Civil War sites. This novel could set me in the right frame of mind to imagine the real chaos of war.