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The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 19, 2008
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Amazon Best of the Month, June 2008: It's gutsy for a debut novelist to offer a modern take on Hamlet set in rural Wisconsin--particularly one in which the young hero, born mute, communicates with people, dogs, and the occasional ghost through his own mix of sign and body language. But David Wroblewski's extraordinary way with language in The Story of Edgar Sawtelle immerses readers in a living, breathing world that is both fantastic and utterly believable. In selecting for temperament and a special intelligence, Edgar's grandfather started a line of unusual dogs--the Sawtelles--and his sons carried on his work. But among human families, undesirable traits aren't so easily predicted, and clashes can erupt with tragic force. Edgar's tale takes you to the extremes of what humans must endure, and when you're finally released, you will come back to yourself feeling wiser, and flush with gratitude. And you will have remembered what magnificent alchemy a finely wrought novel can work. --Mari Malcolm
Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong friend and ally. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar's paternal uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelles' once peaceful home. When Edgar's father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm--and into Edgar's mother's affections.
Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father's death, but his plan backfires--spectacularly. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father's murderer and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs turn Edgar ever homeward.
David Wroblewski is a master storyteller, and his breathtaking scenes--the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a fateful vision rendered in the falling rain--create a riveting family saga, a brilliant exploration of the limits of language, and a compulsively readable modern classic.
Double Life, with Dogs: An Amazon Exclusive Essay by David Wroblewski
We write the stories we wish we could read. There's no other reason to do it, to spend years pacing around your basement, mumbling, pecking at a keyboard, turning your back on a world that offers such a feast of delicious fruits. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle came about because some time ago I wished I could read a novel about a boy and his dog, one that integrated our contemporary knowledge of canine behavior, cognition, and origins with my experience of living with dogs; if possible, something flavored with the uncynical Midwestern sense of heart and purpose so familiar from my childhood (and something which, in truth, I've spent much my adult life being slightly ashamed of, as if either heart or purpose were embarrassing attributes for a grown-up to display). I'd recently come to know a good dog, maybe the best dog I'd ever met, and the subject of people and dogs and ethics and character suddenly seemed urgent. But when I went looking for such a story, I had to go back almost a hundred years, back to Jack London's Call of the Wild. That was a surprise. A little while after that, an idea for a story came to me--not the whole thing, but enough to start.
Praise from Stephen King
"I flat-out loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, and spent twelve happy evenings immersed in the world David Wroblewski has created. As I neared the end, I kept finding excuses to put the book aside for a little, not because I didn't like it, but because I liked it too much; I didn't want it to end. Dog-lovers in particular will find themselves riveted by this story, because the canine world has never been explored with such imagination and emotional resonance. Yet in the end, this isn't a novel about dogs or heartland America--although it is a deeply American work of literature. It's a novel about the human heart, and the mysteries that live there, understood but impossible to articulate. Yet in the person of Edgar Sawtelle, a mute boy who takes three of his dogs on a brave and dangerous odyssey, Wroblewski does articulate them, and splendidly. I closed the book with that regret readers feel only after experiencing the best stories: It's over, you think, and I won't read another one this good for a long, long time.
In truth, there's never been a book quite like The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I thought of Hamlet when I was reading it, and Watership Down, and The Night of the Hunter, and The Life of Pi--but halfway through, I put all comparisons aside and let it just be itself.
I'm pretty sure this book is going to be a bestseller, but unlike some, it deserves to be. It's also going to be the subject of a great many reading groups, and when the members take up Edgar, I think they will be apt to stick to the book and forget the neighborhood gossip.
Wonderful, mysterious, long and satisfying: readers who pick up this novel are going to enter a richer world. I envy them the trip. I don't re-read many books, because life is too short. I will be re-reading this one."--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This sprawling epic tale clocks in at 22 hours, but is well worth the time spent. Wroblewski captivates with a story of a young boy and his dogs cast into the wilderness after his father is murdered in rural Wisconsin. Richard Poe reads with a firm voice, both gripping and personal, fitting for this particular tale. Poe brings the story to life with such ease that listeners will forget they aren't actually reading the book. Steady pacing, realistic and imaginative characters and Poe's skilled performance make this a recording that (even at its length) listeners will want to hear again. This is an instant classic that will resonate for years to come. An Ecco hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 18).(Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I am a bibliophile of the highest degree and as I race closer toward my 60th birthday, the realization that I will never be able to read every book that I desire is hitting home. My version of heaven would include opening my eyes to see my parents, my dogs and, of course, finding a Kindle in my hands. Oh, I'd also need two extra Kindles to place in their beloved hands with a menu showing "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle". But just in case my dreams don't come true, I now pick and choose the 100 books I will read each year with much care and consideration.
I was flabbergasted at the low ratings and reviews this magnificent book has received. If I could influence anyone to read this book I can truly say that this amazing story will fill you with the sense of wonder and glee a child would experience upon waking up one day to find she has the wings to fly. I don't write reviews as a rule because it takes away from my reading time, but seeing three stars next to this book pushed me to add my voice and vote.
They birthed and trained special dogs. After his father died, Edgar ran away with several of his dogs. Together they had some adventures, made a good friend, and eventually returned home to further tragedies. The dogs all had names and distinct personalities. Interesting story, but I felt it was too long.
Almost every character has a s***ty ending. Gar is killed by his brother Claude with some magic potion. Claude uses that same magic potion to kill Edgar, Gar and Trudy's son. Claude lies to, uses, and manipulates Trudy after Gars death. Dr. Page dies from being chased down the stairs by Edgar. Glen, Dr. Page's son gets sucked into some bulls*** fed to him by Claude and ends up blind. Trudy ends up short three dogs (Edgar ran away for 2 months and gave two to Henry and the third - if not more - left) after Edgar dies. Oh, and the dog Edgar grew up with dies.
It was a very slow read but it got better towards the end. Thought, in my opinion, better towards the end is two stars.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Okay so maybe it's not all I have to say. I want to start by clarifying 90% of this book is so wonderful, I'd have given it four...Read more