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Slant of Light
Congratulations to Steve Wiegenstein. Slant of Light receives David J. Langum, Sr. Historical Fiction Honorable Mention for 2012 Watch the trailer and read a description. Read an excerpt here.
With the nation moving toward Civil War, James Turner, a charming, impulsive writer and lecturer, Charlotte, his down-to-earth bride, and Cabot, an idealistic Harvard-educated abolitionist are drawn together in a social experiment deep in the Missouri Ozarks. Inspired by utopian dreams of building a new society, Turner is given a tract of land to found the community of Daybreak. But not everyone involved in the project is a willing partner and being the leader of a farming community out in the middle of nowhere isn’t exactly the life Turner envisioned. Charlotte, confronted with the hardships of rural life, must mature in a hurry to deal with the challenges of building the community while facing her husband’s betrayals and her growing attraction to Cabot. In turn, Cabot struggles to reconcile his need to leave Daybreak to join the fight against slavery and his desire to stay near the woman he loves. As the war draws ever closer, the utopians try to remain neutral and friendly to all, but soon find neutrality is not an option. In the wake of a deadly bushwhacking, Turner discovers that he too has the capacity for ferocious violence. When war finally breaks out, Missouri descends into its uniquely savage brand of conflict in which guerrilla bands terrorize the countryside while Federal troops control the cities, and in which neither side offers or expects quarter. Ultimately, each member of Daybreak must take a stand—both in their political and personal lives.
Praise for Slant of Light
… Slant of Light is populated with fascinating complex, humanly flawed characters, chief among them Turner and Cabot … The result is an entertaining and quite compelling story … would make an excellent book club selection, providing myriad angles for discussion and debate. Historical fiction lovers, particularly those enamored with Civil War-era stories, will find the tale of Turner’s great social experiment absorbing.
—J H Siess, blogger/reviewer at Colloquium
So much about Steve Wiegenstein’s excellent debut novel calls to mind its mid-19th century setting: the deftly incorporated historical backdrop, the sensibilities of its characters, the rich authentic language, and even the book design, in which fonts, color, and images work together to enhance the overall package.
—Sarah Johnson, blogger/reviewer at Reading the Past
Bottom line: Great historical fiction for exploring new times!
—Blogger/reviewer at A Bookish Affair
… I must say, it is one of the most unique storylines I’ve read in a long time. The characters are realistically strong, compelling, and flawed, and the plot is highly engaging and rich with history … Overall, I really enjoyed Slant of Light and would highly recommend it to those that enjoy American historical fiction every now and then (and even those that never think to pick it up), and don’t mind or even enjoy a bit of a love story thrown in, as well as to those that are looking for an original and engaging story of idealism not quashed by the need to survive, but transformed into something both real and hopeful. I was happy to learn upon finishing that this is the first in a series, and look forward to visiting the characters again in the future.
—Blogger/reviewer at Bookish Habits
I highly recommend this book! The writing is excellent and the story is unique and gripping. It was a little slow in the very beginning but it only took a few pages until the story picked up and I was hooked … The story has a lot of great characters and it’s filled with drama, mystery, suspense, and romance. At times it’s an emotional roller coaster and there are some parts of the story with very intense suspense. This is a fantastic debut novel for Mr. Wiegenstein and I look forward to more!
—Michelle Vasquez, blogger/reviewer at Life in Review
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. 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.
—Audra, blogger/reviewer at Unabridged Chick
Overall whether your a fan of historical fiction or just looking for a book that will capture your imagination and not let go then you need to pick up this book! On a scale of one to five I would easily give this book a six because it’s just that good!
—Brenda, blogger/reviewer at WV Stitcher
If the plot sounds messy — well, real life is a messy affair, right? Anyway, much of the book delivers the history of Daybreak, and history is — as Henry Ford once muttered — “one damned thing after another.” Still, this one damned thing called Daybreak makes for good reading. At the end, a publisher’s note promises more to come about Daybreak. That’s good news.
—Harry Levins, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Steve Wiegenstein does a wonderful job addressing the emotional, political, and moral issues (and human responses) which can occur within a co-habitating group of people. His personal experience with the Missouri Ozarks setting shines through in the story details, enabling the reader to have a vivid mind picture as the story unfolds. Congratulations to Steve for a book well-written! And thank you again, Blank Slate Press, for allowing me to read a very engaging story!
—Beth DiIorio, Candle Beam Book Blog
Slant of Light is both a gripping, evocative work of historical fiction and a relevant morality tale exploring the frailty of idealism. In the pre-Civil War era, the writer of a utopian novel becomes so swept up in the fervor of his adherents that on a whim, and without consulting his new bride, he accepts an offer to found a commune on an unseen plot of land in Missouri. Struggle of all manner ensues, testing the character of the society and its inhabitants. Slant of Light is not just superb period fiction; it’s superb fiction, period.
—Margaret Brown, Shelf Unbound magazine
Slant of Light is 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 of Morkan’s Quarry: A Novel
Slant of Light, is so well-written, immediately transforming readers to Missouri in the late 1850s, that they’ll think he has been writing and publishing books for decades. His descriptions are perfect, his dialogue realistic, and his plot captivating. If you’re a historical fiction fan, you must put Slant of Light at the top of your to-be-read list.
— Margo Dill, Champaign News Gazette
Slant of Light 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. I came away from Slant of Light wishing two things: that the book wouldn’t end and that I too could one day write like this.
— Dianna Graveman, Editor, Missouri Writers’ Guild / Author, Arcadia Publishing Images of America series
By creating flawed, but ultimately compelling characters and setting them against one another in a conflict in which there are varying degrees of right and wrong on most sides, Wiegenstein has produced a novel that opens a window on an era of American history and gave it the human face necessary to make it seem real for the reader. Put simply, this is a strong piece of historical fiction that allows the reader to get inside the issues and beliefs that drove the people to make the decisions that resulted, in a small way, in the country that emerged from the Civil War.
— Aaron Pound, Library Thing and Dreaming about Other Worlds
Slant of Light is a contemplative book. That’s not to say that it lacks action, momentum, or is some sort of academic or meditative book. The power in it is subtle, though, and comes not from action-packed, thrilling moments or from grand ideas and postulations. It comes from quiet moments of strength from each character and from the ideals they cling to desperately, though never fully articulate. At times, too, it is beautiful … It is a return to the quiet power of writing, the power to simply illustrate and to bring to life, and the power to contemplate and reveal human nature. Slant of Light reminds us of what Utopia really is – a “no place” in Greek, an impossible place – a place where we simply try to be the best that we can be.
— Amira K. Makansi,The Z-Axis
Steve is a Missouri Ozarks man born and bred with deep roots in Madison, Iron, and Reynolds counties.
He attended college at the University of Missouri, worked as a newspaper reporter, and then returned to Mizzou where he received a Ph.D. in English and embarked upon an academic career. He has taught at Centenary College of Louisiana, Drury College (now “university”), Culver-Stockton College, and Western Kentucky University and is currently the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies at Columbia College in Columbia, MO.
Since learning about an 1840s-era commune situated among the Comanches in north Texas, he has been fascinated by Utopian societies. In SLANT OF LIGHT, he has combined his academic interest with his passion for history, fiction writing, and his long family heritage deep in the Missouri Ozarks. SLANT OF LIGHT is his first novel.
He is an avid hiker and canoer, rafter and kayaker on Missouri’s float streams. He serves as a board member of the Missouri Writers’ Guild. He lives in Columbia, MO with his wife, Sharon Buzzard, who is a professor of English at Mizzou.
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"Writing is a struggle against silence."
- Carlos Fuentes
"Easy reading is damn hard writing."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne