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The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel (Oprah…
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The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel (Oprah Book Club #62) (edition 2008)

by David Wroblewski

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6,401350603 (3.74)333
Member:TanyaPMills
Title:The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel (Oprah Book Club #62)
Authors:David Wroblewski
Info:Ecco (2008), Edition: 1ST, Hardcover, 576 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

  1. 10
    What the Deaf-Mute Heard by G. D. Gearino (Bookshop_Lady)
    Bookshop_Lady: Coming-of-age stories, family secrets, loss of parents - both wonderful books.
  2. 00
    The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig (chndlrs)
  3. 00
    Undiscovered Country: A Novel by Lin Enger (1morechapter)
    1morechapter: Another take on the same story.
  4. 00
    The Maestro: A Novel by Tim Wynne-Jones (LDVoorberg)
    LDVoorberg: If you read and liked The Maestro as a teen, as an you'll probably like at least Part 2 of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle because of the adventure/survival aspect to the plot.
  5. 00
    The Turtle Warrior: A Novel by Mary Relindes Ellis (Ciruelo)
    Ciruelo: Both novels feature a sympathetic young man as the main character, an isolated rural setting, and a ghost.
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» See also 333 mentions

English (342)  Dutch (3)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (348)
Showing 1-5 of 342 (next | show all)
As infant Edgar begins to grow, it becomes apparent that he can hear but not make any sounds. He is mute and communicates in a sign language which developed between him and his parents. The Sawtelle family breed dogs and have a good but hard life.
i was almost immediately captured by this quiet, well written novel. When asked what the book was about by friends who saw me reading it, I felt at a loss to explain why a story about a family and their dogs was so compelling. I enjoyed the book right up until the end when I was seriously disappointed by the confusing and unwarranted ending. Nevertheless it is definitely worth the read. ( )
  AstridG | May 9, 2015 |
Edgar Sawtelle is born dumb but not deaf, yet he possesses an ability to communicate with the dogs his family breeds. When his father dies suddenly, Edgar suspects foul play and uncovers a sinister plot by his Uncle Claude. (shades of Hamlet!) When a second tragedy occurs, Edgar runs away. When he finally returns home, after some soul-searching adventures, Edgar realizes his ultimate fate and redemption.

Author Wroblewski borrows heavily from Shakespeare and writes with beautiful elegance. This is a big book in every way: theme, scope, and ambition. Literature (and dog) lovers will savor this novel! ( )
  mjspear | Apr 21, 2015 |
Unlike many other reviewers who didn't care for the book because the motivations weren't explained and because the efforts of reader and writer both seemed pointless, I disliked it for other reasons. I accept that the reader is supposed to know the rules of Shakesperian tragedy. I accept that the reader is supposed to fully engage, to work with the writer the way the dogs work with the trainers. I respect that life doesn't have neat endings tied up with a bow. I respect that true communication is impossible, whether or not there are issues of mutism or greed or ignorance.

Nope, I'm rating the book low because I just plain didn't like it. I did not enjoy my time spent with it. The only characters I liked, the only ones I wanted to spend effort trying to understand, were not given enough space to reveal themselves. Henry Lamb is a neat person - I want to read a book about him. And Trudy is an archetype, not a person at all, which is frustrating.

Bits were lovely, or provocative, but only enough to barely get the second star. Still, if you're interested, try it for yourself. Each reader will appreciate this differently. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
An amazing story. I would describe the writing as symphonic. It takes you from highs to lows and everything in between, all built on a beautiful style which never lets your attention waver.

This is not an uplifting book, so if you avoid books that have a less than happy ending, I would avoid this one. On th other hand, if you love dogs, this will either give you a different perspective or reinforce the one you currently have. ( )
  grandpahobo | Apr 7, 2015 |
It was about a boy who couldn't talk and used his own made up sign language. His father died when the boy couldn't call 911 to help his father. The family raised a kind of dogs called Sawtelle dogs that were raised for traits no one could explain. It turns out the father's brother killed the father, destroyed the brother all to get the dogs. There was a lot of mystical and new age theories in this book. ( )
  KamGeb | Apr 5, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 342 (next | show all)
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a dutiful procession through the main events of [Hamlet]. The Mousetrap scene, in which Edgar trains his dogs to act out his father’s murder in front of Claude, is marvelous—Wroblewski loves writing about dogs and he’s great at it—but the other pages are still covered by translucent drafter’s blueprints. Here’s Polonius, the meddler, here’s Laertes, the avenging son, and so on. (The Laertes figure isn’t introduced until page 489 and he’s as puzzled as the rest of us about why he’s supposed to kill a fourteen-year-old boy.) Wroblewski is only at pains to apply himself when there’s a chance his characters might become complicated and unsympathetic.
 
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, all 566 pages, is surprising and rewarding. It's worth savoring, both its story and its storytelling.
added by Katya0133 | editUSA Today, Bob Minzesheimer (Jun 19, 2008)
 
High literary art from a talent that bears watching.
added by Katya0133 | editBooklist, Ian Chipman (Jun 1, 2008)
 
This is the best book I've read in a long time.
added by Katya0133 | editPublishers Weekly (May 19, 2008)
 
[A] spellbinding first novel . . .
added by Katya0133 | editKirkus Reviews (Apr 15, 2008)
 

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Wroblewskiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lill, DebraCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poe, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saltzman, AlisonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved. ~Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
Dedication
For Arthur and Ann Wroblewski
First words
After dark the rain began to fall again, but he had already made up his mind to go and anyway it had been raining for weeks.
Quotations
High in the crown of a charred tree, an owl revolved its dished face, and one branch down, three small replicas followed.
He thought of his father standing in the barn doorway peering skyward as a thunderstorm approached, while his mother shouted, ‘Gar, get indoors, for God’s sake.’ That was how it was, sometimes. You put yourself in front of the thing and waited for whatever was going to happen and that was all. It scared you and it didn’t matter. You stood and faced it. There was no outwitting anything. … It was not a morbid thought, just the world as it existed. Sometimes you looked the thing in the eye and it turned away. Sometimes it didn’t.
He’d left in confusion, but his return was clarifying. So much of what had been obscure while he faced away was now evident. … So much of the world was governed by chance. … 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 accidents—the rest you let float by. … Some things were certain—they had already happened—but the future would not be divined. … The future was no ally. A person had only his life to barter with.
Most people thought training meant forcing their will on a dog. Or that training required some magical gift. Both ideas were wrong. Real training meant watching, listening, diverting a dog’s exuberance, not suppressing it. You couldn’t change a river into a sea, but you could trace a new channel for it to follow.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061768065, Hardcover)

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

Book Description

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.

Continue Reading Double Life, With Dogs

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."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:58 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A tale reminiscent of "Hamlet" that also celebrates the alliance between humans and dogs follows speech-disabled Wisconsin youth Edgar, who bonds with three yearling canines and struggles to prove that his sinister uncle is responsible for his father's death.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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