Brenda Cooper

Reading Recommendation: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Although I read widely, I seldom recommend purely literary work like this because it seldom picks me up and refuses to let go like Edgar Sawtelle. Now to be fair, it didn’t spell me until the last 100 pages, whereupon I sat upstairs in the great green reading chair and refused to come down and pet the dogs until I was done (Yes, there’s some irony in that if you know the book).
Part way through, I even stopped for one of my guilty pleasures – Mercy Thompson (Bone Crossed, by Patricia Briggs – three hours of luscious entertainment that followed me everywhere until I finished it, but did not take long to finish). But I jumped right back into Edgar afterward.
I loved it from early on. Wroblewski did a very nice job with building a world, and with putting believable people in it. The boy who cannot speak. The woman who trains dogs. The cashier who reads the soul of humans. I didn’t want to finish it. This book is a true exploration of the hearts of humans and dogs (both favorite topics of mine), and very well realized and finely crafted.
It is, by the way, the classic tale of the Great America Novel – I can’t find the citation, but I hear it took ten years to write (yipe!), and the author is an MFA. So this is the dream of the literary community. And well done.
I may have more to say tomorrow, since I read it as part of a reading group and we meet tomorrow. If you poke around the internet, not everybody loved it as much as I did. It’s a daunting 562 pages, but I actually wouldn’t have minded if it had been longer.