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benstickerMB: Have you ever heard the song “Ben” by Michael Jackson? If not already, I don’t know that I could recommend it in good faith. At the same time, if anyone could reprise the last line of the song, it’s you, in your voice. (“I’m sure they’d think again if they had a friend like Ben.”)

BP: I love that song so much, not only because of my name, but because it is about a filthy sewer rat. The ethereal flute-like piping of Michael Jackson’s voice is what I wish I sounded like, but I’ve been burdened with a subwoofer that sounds a little like a drunk Darth Vader imitating the ringside monologue of a professional wrestler.

The Wilding by Benjamin Percy is a powerful book packed with tension, unease, and life at the edge of the forest, where quite possibly man should stay. It is an intricate weaving of several different point of views: the fractured soldier back from fighting in Baghdad, Brian, who dresses up in the hide of wild animals, creeping around the woods, spying on a woman he longs for, eager for some sort of meaningful contact; Justin, the beaten down husband of Karen, a woman unhappy and distant after a miscarriage; their son, Graham, a bookworm, about to make his first kill; and the grandfather, Paul, watching over them all with disdain, longing to make men of his boys, at whatever cost. And looming at the edge of it all is the violence of nature, the push back of locals frustrated by the expansion of business, the unseen bear that haunts the Oregon woods, waiting to tear them apart.