Lisa's Reviews > The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
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Sep 22, 2008

really liked it

Stayed up half the night finishing it and… I really can’t be objective about this book. I said earlier how I was enjoying it purely as a reader and not a critic, but it goes deeper than that. It’s like Wroblewski had some kind of infrared Jungian checklist and somehow managed to find out all my childhood fantasies: benevolent and wise dog companion/nursemaid? Check. Super-intelligent semi-wild pack of devoted dogs that sleep with you at night? Check. I guess the only thing worse than being raised by wolves is wishing you were – as a kid I always had a fantasy of a wolf pack appearing on my street to take me away. I wanted a dog who would look out for me like Lassie. So this was like – pardon the crudeness of the simile – finding the porn that gets you off just right.

Even though there were problems – a series of transitions in the last quarter of the book that didn’t work well, and the last part in the barn wasn’t the climax or catharsis that I think the book wanted, and yeah, it was fat as a tick on a dog’s ear. But that didn’t matter much to me, honestly – I was so emotionally involved with the characters it was like being in love, in the way logic just flies out the window for a while. And it’s been such a long time since a book did that to me. I gave in, I did, I swooned.

Plus there’s a lot that was just right. His language is nicely suited to the tale, elegant and tuned into the natural world. Obviously I’m a dog person so I’m slanted that way in the first place, but I thought he wrote the dogs well. It’s always a treat to read someone who’s so carefully observed something that you have too. And much of the book flowed beautifully. But mostly it was the characters that moved me, people and dogs alike. Not necessarily their inner lives or motivations, which fluctuated all over the board in terms of plausibility – just the fact of them. They’ll stay with me a while. Lord, I cried so hard over Almondine I had to go sit outside for a few minutes with my arm around my own flesh-and-blood dog.

And the very last scene just called up my inner 8-year-old and made her happy. I couldn’t evaluate that dispassionately if I tried.

In the end I don’t really know what to say about this book that anyone else might relate to. All I know is it transported me, and it was a good ride.
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Reading Progress

03/09 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Lysne (new) - added it

Lysne Lisa,

Oh I want to read this now! Thanks for your opinion...


Julie Lisa--I reacted to the book in much the same way: I inhabited it. There were 0 degrees of separation when I was reading it, so much so, that I often had to put it down because of a sense of foreboding. I wept for Almondine and for all mankind when she died. It's definitely my favorite book of '08, but I'm still trying to make sense of so many threads in the book.


message 3: by Marjie (new)

Marjie Lisa, I did exactly what you did when Almondine died: I sat sobbing on the couch with my arm around my precious dog Maggie. And when Almondine came to Edgar as he was dying in the barn, I did the same thing. I think it was the only way the book could end. No happily ever after. At least, Claude got what he deserved. And Edgar and Almondine were together and the Sawtelle dogs had Essay and Forte to lead them. I loved the book.


Emily Bowman Lisa, you so eloquently summed up my response to this book too--it was like being in love and I was completely under a spell with the characters. Like the others, I too wept when I read about Almondine, and held my dog tightly. It was definitely not a perfectly written book, but it "got me", and that's how I measure a good book.


Linda I was also affected deeply by the death of Almondine. Even though I knew she would probably die before Edgar returned, it didn't make it any easier when it happened.


Judith AMEN>


Melanie This book touched my soul...it's been 4 years since I read it and just reading these comments has me in tears again; the loss of Edgar and Almondine was like losing family.


Vicki Cook good review...bad simile about porn and getting you off just right


Dallas I was spellbound by this book - in love with the dogs, Edgar - his visions - Almondine. strange book, wonderful book, I don't think,emotionally, I could read it again - I saw it in the library racks recently & just stopped & stared at it...


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