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Slant of Light: A Novel of Utopian Dreams and Civil War (The Daybreak Series) Paperback – April 8, 2012


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Product Details

  • Series: The Daybreak Series (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Blank Slate Press; 1 edition (April 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982880669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982880661
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,670,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“That remarkable novel that not only embeds us in a bygone time and place, but also wakens us to a wide and presently shared dawn of love, violence, frailty, and possibility.”  —Steve Yates, author, Morkan’s Quarry

“Will appeal to fans of both historical fiction and nonfiction—or to anyone who appreciates a strong story told with a true and honest voice. Author Steve Wiegenstein carries us back to a complex time and invites us to share in the tale of a resilient people who are mightily challenged, yet struggle to overcome all.”  —Dianna Graveman, editor, Missouri Writers’ Guild, and author, Images of America series

About the Author

Steve Wiegenstein grew up in the eastern Missouri Ozarks and roams its backwoods and roads every chance he gets. The Black River and the Annapolis Branch Library were his two main haunts as a kid, and they remain his Mecca and Medina to this day. He is a longtime scholar of the 19th century Icarian movement in America, which provided the inspiration for Slant of Light. He particularly enjoyed weaving the real-life story of Sam Hildebrand, the notorious Confederate bushwhacker who murdered one of Steve's ancestors--into the novel. Steve and his wife, Sharon Buzzard, both academics, live in Columbia, MO. Slant of Light, the first book in his Daybreak series, is his first novel.


More About the Author

I was born and raised in the eastern Missouri Ozarks -- my folks grew up on adjoining farms, and our family roots go deep in Madison, Iron, and Reynolds counties.

I went to college at the University of Missouri. After a few years as a newspaper reporter, I returned to school and then got into the higher education biz, with teaching stints at Centenary College of Louisiana, Drury College (now "university"), Culver-Stockton College, and Western Kentucky University. I'm currently the associate dean for graduate studies at Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri.

I'm an avid canoer, rafter, and kayaker on Missouri's float streams.....a longtime member, friend, and supporter of the Quincy, Illinois, Unitarian Church.....a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals.....a hiker (ok, make that walker).....a board member of the Missouri Writers' Guild. I find pennies on the sidewalk more frequently than anyone I know.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This book had such an easy flow, I could hardly put it down each time I started reading it.
Jen H.
I love stories that revolve around the civil war and this book effortlessly pulls readers right into this time period.
Brenda Casto
This is excellent historical fiction, with believable characters and well-researched historical context.
RhodeIsland 1969

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I try my best to keep my eyes on what's going on with the small presses. I also try to keep my eyes open for books with connections to my hometown of Quincy, Illinois. Though the bulk of Mr. Wiegenstein's novel Slant of Light takes place in the fictional town of Daybreak in southern Missouri, a brief interlude in pre-Civil War Quincy (when the city was one of the largest in the state) brought this book to my attention. In that, I feel fortunate, because this novel is quite excellent, and far above the quality of many books published by small presses.

The basic story follows the founding of Daybreak, a utopian community based on the ideas of James Turner, a popular writer and lecturer. He founds the town in late 1857 on land donated by George Webb, an ageing farmer who has found inspiration in Turner's ideas. Turner goes there with his wife, Charlotte, and a varied group of believers who migrate there from around the United States.

Over the next few years, the community struggles to establish itself and maintain the ideals of universal sharing and decision-making that are meant to be the mark of the group. They work at learning effective farming, producing goods like rope to raise money, and Turner continues to raise awareness through a newspaper and lecture tour. It is difficult, however, in the face of the growing intrigues of war which could be particularly nasty in border states like Missouri as well as the personal intrigues that occur whenever people gather together, no matter what their idealistic tendencies.

The plot is a strong one and Wiegenstein has a number of other things going for him. He is clearly an expert on the era and the area. Everything he describes seems very real.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Unabridged Chick on May 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
This was a fantastically great book. I rarely read historical fiction set around the Civil War, and this book's time span -- 1857 - 1862 -- was unique, fascinating, and compelling. Wiegenstein's writing is vibrant and engrossing, his characters uncomfortably real, and I was immediately plunged into a time and world that frightened and fascinated me.

James Turner is a philosopher and itinerant lecturer who wrote a utopian novel called Daybreak that inspired a Missouri man to donate land in hopes of establishing a real life Daybreak. Turner's new bride, Charlotte, eager to escape a sad home and embark on something promising, rushes to join Turner in the Missouri Ozarks. A Harvard-educated abolitionist, Adam Cabot, recently tarred and feathered in Kansas for his anti-slavery work, decides to join the community as well, and these three characters provide the frame for the story. But the secondary characters are just as compelling and fleshed out -- the other residents who decide to join Daybreak, the suspicious neighbors who are uneasy with the commune -- and I felt like I knew everyone.

I will admit that the love triangle-ish-ness was my least favorite part of the story, but I've got some weird hangup about infidelity that I kind of think I need to explore in therapy or something. (Seriously -- I've not been affected by infidelity myself and I used to love hot torrid affairs in my novels but now just a whiff of cheating makes my stomach hurt!) Regardless, the love triangle wasn't the focus of the story, really, and it served to provoke some great mental debate about ethics, ideals, and obligations.

Wiegenstein's writing style is straight-forward, evocative but not flowery. I was lost to the world every time I picked up this book and I didn't want it to end. Even if you're not a historical fiction fan, consider picking up this novel -- this is a philosophical armchair escape that is grounded, accessible, and real.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brenda Casto on May 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
James Turner finds himself traveling around the country giving lectures after his book "Travels To Daybreak" a story about a Utopian community becomes a huge success. While traveling he meets his wife Charlotte, a strong willed woman that he knows is his perfect match. When on of his followers, George Webb, offers him a tract of land in Madison County, Missouri to form the community of Daybreak looking at it as a social experiment, where everyone who joins the community of Daybreak will own an equal share, and have an equal say, with all their earnings going into a common treasury, he decides to take Mr. Webb up on his offer.When his wife arrives she brings along Adam Cabot, a young abolitionist that her father had saved from hanging back in Kansas. Soon there are several community members and most are bookworms with the same ideals as James, but with little knowledge of farming. James quickly realizes that it isn't going to be easy to financially sustain the community. Inside the community, trust is lost, and leadership is tested, meanwhile on the outside there is unrest as a county goes to war. While the citizens of Daybreak deal with the turmoil going on inside their community they are determined to remain neutral where war is concerned. Will the community of Daybreak survive?

I love stories that revolve around the civil war and this book effortlessly pulls readers right into this time period. I found myself drawn to the characters. James was a character who had me volleying between like and dislike. While I thought his idea was interesting, I ultimately found myself very disappointed in him, and felt like his wife Charlotte was much stronger than he was, which was evident in the decision she made regarding Adam.
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