Monday, February 21, 2011

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

I absolutely loved this book.  It's a book you can lose yourself in.  My copy of the book had eight pages of accolades in the front telling you how much you were going to enjoy this book.  Examples:  This one from the New York Times Book Review, "Wroblewski's literary skill is most apparent in his intoxicating descriptions of the bucolic setting...he handles his task with impressive subtlety."  From Books & Culture, "The literary sensation of the season...You may want to trust me and get the book right now...Fresh and unpredictable to the end.  Wroblewski has an uncanny ability to make palpable for us the bones and muscles of his characters."  And even this one from O, The Oprah Magazine, "Whether you read for the beauty of language or for the intricacies of plot, you will easily fall in love with David Wroblewski's generous, almost transcendentally lovely debut novel, ...The scope of this book, its psychological insight, and lyrical mastery, make it one of the best novels of the year."  There is a quote from Stephen King on the back that says:  "I flat-out loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.  Wonderful, mysterious, long, and satisfying:  readers...are going to enter a richer world.  I envy them the trip."

Hype, or reality? For me, it was reality.  From the first page, I was drawn into this lush dream of a book.  From the opening back story set in South Korea to the unforgettable conclusion on the Sawtelle farm, this book that is part mystery, part thriller, part ghost story, had a grip on my imagination that made it extremely hard for me to lay the book down.

Edgar Sawtelle and his family, his father Gar and his mother Trudy, live on a farm and breed dogs.  Edgar is mute and has a pet dog, Almondine, who has looked after him since birth.  Edgar's father's brother, Claude, returns to the farm after a stint in the service to help them out.  The stay is short lived because he has fights with his brother and after a huge one, he storms off.  A short time later Edgar finds his father in the barn, dying mysteriously.  Unable to call for help, he watches his father die.

After they bury Gar, Edgar and Trudy try to keep the family business going, but when the mother catches pneumonia and Edgar has an accident with the dogs, they are forced to call on Claude for help.  When Claude returns to the farm he also manages to work his way into Edgar's mother's affections and Edgar becomes grief stricken and bewildred because he has begun to suspect that Claude had something to do with his father's death.  Circumstance forces Edgar and three of the Sawtelle dogs to flee into the wilderness beyond the farm where he fights for his survival and regroups for the final return home and confrontation with Claude.

Wroblewski is a master storyteller and this big, mesmerizing read is wildly satisfying.  I highly recommend it.     

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Shelf-Worthy Bookends

The link to Flavorwire will introduce you to some pretty darn decorative (as well as functional) bookends.

Quotation about the attraction of a physical book

Stevie Cameron,author
On the Farm: Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver’s Missing Women

"I'm actually not so crazy about reading books on the iPad.... This became clear when I decided to buy my favorite book this season, As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, as well as another treat, In Tearing Haste: Letters Between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor. That's the moment I realized the iPad was wrong for book reading. I just couldn't bear to read these electronically. I needed to go to a beautiful bookstore and buy the hard copy and hold it and admire the type and the feel of it. Real books mean wandering around the store, talking to the owner about what's new and great, reading a few pages, buying it, carrying it with me. My iPad works hard enough for me that it doesn't need to download books. Friends love their Kindles and Kobos and I understand, but my heart leaps with the actual book, not the virtual one. And surely I'm not the only one."

No, she's not the only one, not by a long shot.

Monday, February 7, 2011

E-readers catch on with Young Adults

This article in the New York Times highlighted a jump in sales of YA e-books this past year.  It is too soon to tell whether young adults will stick with these devices in the long run, or grow bored and move on to the next new gadget.

How You Read Not as Important as Will You Read?

Something to keep in mind in this whole e-book versus physical book debate...

--James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress

In a Newsweek poll of "some literary brains on the future of reading," James Billington had these comments to make:

"The new immigrants don't shoot the old inhabitants when they come in. One technology tends to supplement rather than supplant. How you read is not as important as: will you read? And will you read something that's a book--the sustained train of thought of one person speaking to another? Search techniques are embedded in e-books that invite people to dabble rather than follow a full train of thought. This is part of a general cultural problem."
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