Book Review: Wild Man

Aug 4, 2017

This is KLCC.  I’m Connie Bennett, Director of Eugene Public Library, with a book review of “Wildman” by J.C. Geiger.

I’ve never been a teenaged boy.  Never been in a ’93 Buick.  So, it was with a little trepidation that I picked up “Wildman,” Eugene author J.C. Geiger’s debut novel.  Though the book has received quite a bit of buzz in the teen market since its colorful “road-trip” launch last spring, I wasn’t sure how accessible – or interesting – it might be to older readers.

The book begins slowly.  Our entitled, annoying narrator, Lance, is eager to get home to Bend and the promised delights of the big high school graduation party.  Stranded by a breakdown in rural Washington, he’s quick to call mom to bail him out.   

The story picks up when Lance meets a diverse band of locals worthy of a No Shame skit:  a roadhouse hustler, a feisty motel clerk, and an assortment of hard-luck teens who crash into his life, tilting it off course – and predictably forcing our young hero to choose his future path.

Several elements raise “Wildman” above the conventional coming of age novel.  Lance first becomes interesting when he sees unexpected, hidden beauty, when he hears not-yet-written music.  Use of story becomes a central theme.  Early on: "He rifled through his stories like a deck of old baseball cards. What had he ever done?"  And by the end:  “…it turns out words matter.  Stories matter.  The stories we tell about each other.  The stories you end up telling yourself.”

Last, but not least, there are the three endings, each more delightful than the one before.  First, the cinematographic, next the farewell letter, and finally, the creation of a legacy that reveals the true meaning of the book’s cover image.

“Wildman.”  Perfect for the teen boys you know.  And for the rest of us, too.

This is KLCC.  I’m Connie Bennett, reviewing “Wildman” by J.C. Geiger.