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The Wilding: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 28, 2010

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, September 28, 2010
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555975690
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555975692
  • ASIN: B0057DCHV0
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,569,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Percy's excellent debut novel (after the collection Refresh, Refresh) digs into the ambiguous American attitude toward nature as it oscillates between Thoreau's romantic appreciation and sheer gothic horror. The plot concerns a hunting trip taken by Justin Caves and his sixth-grade son, Graham, with Justin's bullying father, Paul, a passionate outdoorsman in failing health who's determined to spend one last weekend in the Echo Canyon before real estate developer Bobby Fremont turns the sublime pocket of wilderness into a golfing resort. Justin, a high school English teacher, has hit an almost terminally rough patch in his marriage to Karen, who, while the boys camp, contemplates an affair with Bobby, though she may have bigger problems with wounded Iraq war vet Brian, a case study in creepy stalker. The men, meanwhile, are being tracked by a beast and must contend with a vengeful roughneck roaming the woods. A taut plot and cast of deeply flawed characters--Justin is a masterwork of pitiable wretchedness--will keep readers rapt as peril descends and split-second decisions come to have lifelong repercussions. It's as close as you can get to a contemporary Deliverance.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Wilderness, in several senses, is at the root of this ambitious first novel. A man named Justin; his impulsive, willful father; and his studious, school-age son spend a weekend camping and hunting in an Oregon wilderness area that will soon become a golf resort. Portents of danger accompany them: a rattler in their tent, an enraged redneck, and signs of a marauding bear. But it’s granddad who seems the greatest threat, and Justin, who has always shied away from confrontation, worries that even if they survive, the fabric of family may not. Percy skillfully limns the psychic wildernesses of his characters even as he paints a vivid image of central Oregon’s high desert, the impact of development, and the divide between capitalism and conservation. A parallel story of Justin’s angst-ridden wife, who is being stalked by an ex-marine who suffered a horrific head wound in Iraq, is also effective; but it creates one more psychic wilderness than the book can handle. The Wilding seems a bit overambitious, but, even so, it draws readers in and holds them in its grasp. --Thomas Gaughan

More About the Author

Benjamin Percy was born in the high desert of Central Oregon. He is the author of two novels, Red Moon (coming in May 2013, published by Grand Central/Hachette) and The Wilding (Graywolf Press, 2010), as well as two books of stories, Refresh, Refresh (Graywolf Press, 2007) and The Language of Elk (Grand Central/Hachette 2013; Carnegie Mellon, 2006).

His fiction and nonfiction have been read on National Public Radio, performed at Symphony Space, and published by Esquire (where he is a contributing editor), GQ, Time, Men's Journal, Outside, the Wall Street Journal, the Paris Review, Tin House, Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, and many other magazines and journals.

His honors include an NEA fellowship, the Whiting Writers' Award, the Plimpton Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and inclusion in Best American Short Stories and Best American Comics.

His story "Refresh, Refresh" was adapted into a graphic novel -- co-authored by filmmaker James Ponsoldt and illustrated by Eisner-nominated artist Danica Novgorodoff -- that First Second Books (a division of Macmillan) published in 2009.

He is currently at work on the adaptation of The Wilding with filmmaker Guillermo Arriaga (Babel, 21 Grams). And in 2014, Grand Central/Hachette will publish his third novel, The Dead Lands, a post-apocalyptic reimagining of the Lewis and Clark passage.

You can learn more about him at

Customer Reviews

And it's almost a few hundred pages too long.
Mike Anderson
Not content with writing mere action/adventure genre fiction, Percy gives the novel and its characters unexpected depth.
W. V. Buckley
I put the book down and didn't think I'd ever finish it.
Pretty Sinister

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In Eastern Oregon, an undeveloped canyon is about to become a golf resort; before logging begins, a son, father, and grandfather go for a weekend camping trip that will strand them amid that raw wilderness, pitting them against its worst and threatening to consume them. The Wilding is Southern Gothic in all but the specifics of setting: a country roughness, some social incisiveness, and it contrasts the weakness and artifice of the suburban with the seductive, dangerous wilderness of what remains of the natural world, casting neither in a positive light. This is the best of the book, beginning purposeful and strong, ending with a welcome and swift climax--but the middle of the book drags such that its reasonable 250 pages seem far too long.

The longer the book wears, the worse it fares. Its initially strong style, a combination of country gruffness and artistic language, devolves into a plague of similes so common that the text literally become repetitive, littered with "like"s. Any potential for social critique is smothered by a slew of minutiae--meant to build tension, instead slowing the book to a crawl--and a half dozen male points of view and gazes, not excepting in the lone female character: it's not horribly sexist, it's just conformist, limited, insipid, bland, pedestrian; it's the woes of the middle class white man, and it says nothing new. The Wilding isn't bad so much as it's boring, reflecting what the attached reading group guide says it is: a book by committee, where the female POV was added midway through; a book written with the intent to blend the boundaries between "well written" literary fiction and "plot motivated" genre fiction in such a way that it fulfills the supposed qualities of neither and instead flounders midway between, pretentiously unsuccessful. This isn't to say that the book is an utter failure; it's not. It's just not much at all: well-intended, initially appealing, but ultimately I was just glad to see it end. I don't recommend it.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By W. V. Buckley on October 18, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It doesn't happen often, but once in a while I stumble across a novel by a new author (new to me, at least) and take a leap of faith to sample an unknown quality. Sometimes that leaps ends in 'what was I thinking when I bought this book?' exasperation. Other times - far too rarely - it ends with the giddy excitement of discovering an author with a clear, unique voice whose words paint pictures that are etched in my memory like pictographs found on canyon walls. Benjamin Percy's The Wilding definitely belongs in the latter category.

In prose as clear and fast flowing as a mountain stream, Percy tells the story of five people. There's Justin, an English teacher who has reached a point where his life is perfectly ordered. His wife, Karen, is still recovering emotionally from a miscarriage and is resentful of her husband's passivity. Their son, Graham, is a studious boy who prefers books to BB guns. Rounding out the cast of characters is Paul, Justin's father, a blustering builder of homes who has never understood where the line is between loving his son and bullying him, and Brian, a survivor of a IED in Iraq who returned home with head injury, whose chance encounter with Karen sets him on a dangerous path of obsession.

Set in central Oregon, the story is a simple one: Justin, along with his father and son, go on one last hunting trip to a canyon set to be transformed in a golf course. Along the way they encounter a local backwoodsman who resents the intrusion of outsiders and outside ideas into his territory. There's also a grizzly bear that remains unseen through most of the book, though his presence is keenly felt by the hunters.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rett01 VINE VOICE on October 4, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Rereading James Dickey's "Deliverance" New York Times reviewer Dwight Garner wrote in April 2010 that the lean novel about wilderness and survival has lost "little of its sleekness or power" in the four decades since its publication. "In 2010, it's (a) lonely work looking for its serious successor."

Benjamin Percy takes up the challenge and for the most part succeeds in "The Wilding," a tightly wound, gutsy follow-up to the author's award winning collection "Refresh, Refresh" and "The Language of Elk."

Percy quotes from "Deliverance" in his novel's front pages and goes on, as Dickey did, to place men at peril in the "dark forest" where menace is everywhere and their struggle to survive slowly strips away layer by layer their veneer of sociability and order.

Bad things happen early. The blood on the kitchen floor in the opening pages foreshadows the danger and violence that follow and the sets the pace at which the action unfolds.

The three people sent into the wilds of the Pacific Northwest are Justin Caves, who teaches high school English in Bend, Ore., his sixth-grader son Graham and Justin's father Paul, a rough-hewn builder full of bluster, an outdoorsman and bully with big, leathery hands that "rake through his beard like paws through rotten wood."

At the elder's urging, the three of them and the old man's dog Boo spend "guy time" on a camping weekend in Echo Canyon, a revered family hunting spot in the "big pines and bear grass meadows" of the Ochoco Mountains of Central Oregon.

This will be the last time they hunt the canyon. The once-public land will be bulldozed beginning the following Monday and the wilderness paved over with asphalt roads and river-rock drives leading up to a lavish golf resort.
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