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.     

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...