Grace's Reviews > The Cry of the Sloth

The Cry of the Sloth by Sam Savage
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's review
Jan 25, 2010

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bookshelves: fiction, read-in-2010
Read from January 24 to 25, 2010

** spoiler alert ** Sam Savage's "The Cry of the Sloth" is the engrossing story of Andrew Whittaker - a never published author, shoddy landlord of decrepit properties housing even more decrepit tenants, the editor and sole staff member of the literary magazine Soap, and the ex-husband to a serial cheater who ends up involved with his writing nemesis.

Told mostly in letters written over a four month period by Andrew to various people: his ex-wife Jolie, his college roommate, a bevy of bill collectors, his tenants who refuse to pay rent or use garbage cans, writer friends from college who are successful and published authors, aspiring writers submitting material for publication, and various other people he has met along the way.

I found the letter format to be most engaging. It is the perfect vehicle for the author to show the complexity and contradictory aspects of Andrew's personality. He reveals himself, or a version of himself created specifically for the letter's recipient, in each letter. As the letters build, the reader is able to create a larger and more complete picture of the harried and downtrodden main character. It becomes evident early on that Andrew is either wholly unlikeable or not in touch with reality as he spirals into himself and out of reality as the recipients of his letters know it.

At times, Andrew is wholly unlikeable. This thought flashed through my brain on several occasions while reading the book; however, his slow descent into hell and his profound realizations of his life - hanging up side down like the sloth, waiting to forget to hold on so he can crash to the ground and his death, completely rehabilitated the narrator in my eyes. Sure, he spins webs of lies, but he tells them beautifully, in a voice so captivating and melodic that it is unbelievable that he is an unpublished author.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and I'm glad a friend recommended it to me. It is a quick read (barely 230 pages) and the melodic prose of Andrew's letters make the pages turn faster and faster the farther you get into the book. Sam Savage's way with words makes this a must read for any fiction writers out there looking to improve and hone their craft.
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