The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel, by David Wroblewski

30 Apr
“Life was a swarm of accidents waiting in the treetops, descending upon any living thing that passed, ready to eat them alive.  You swam in a river of chance and coincidence.  You clung to the happiest accident–the rest you let float by.”

Edgar Sawtelle book coverI’m embarrassed to say this book took me forever to read. I didn’t dislike it, and it was well-written. It made me sad, though. I was afraid to become too invested in the story and the characters.  Occasionally, something good would happen, and I could whizz through a few chapters.  For example, Edgar met a man named Harry.  This was by far my favorite part of the book.  Upon fearing an ending to this section, I put the book away for a few weeks before I could bring myself to keep reading.

Edgar Sawtelle is an endearing character.  He was mute from the moment he was born, for no discernible reason.  Still, he grows up happily in rural Wisconsin with his parents, his dog Almondine, and a thriving dog breeding business.  The Sawtelle Dogs are renowned for their unique abilities, with almost a mysterious quality to them throughout the novel. 

Edgar’s life takes a dramatic turn, however, when his uncle Claude returns home.  With a nod to Hamlet, Edgar’s story is somewhat creepy, adventurous, and sad.  Througout it all, the characters maintain a very human quality–Even the dogs!

This book isn’t for everyone.  I prefer a story with a bit of the supernatural, but despite that, it has a very realistic quality.  It merges topics and genres smoothly to a somewhat ambiguous result.  Although it has Oprah and Stephen King’s praise, I’m going to give it three and a half out of five stars.  Deeply appreciated, but not really the escape it’s sometimes called.  Hamlet is, after all, a tragedy. 

 

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2 Responses to “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel, by David Wroblewski”

  1. Leeswammes May 1, 2011 at 3:31 am #

    I have this book on my wishlist. I’m really not sure what to expect. Some people really enjoyed it, while others didn’t and you seem to be in the middle. I guess I’ll just have to try and see!

    Thanks for the review!

    • Jenni May 1, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

      I’d say it’s worth the journey. Definitely give it a shot! My hesitation in recommending it more highly is that it can be disappointing. It is beautifully written though, and the dogs are fascinating.

      Let me know when you’ve read it and what you think!

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