Jean's Reviews > The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
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it was amazing

The best book I have read in a very long time (since A Prayer for Owen Meany). As soon as I started reading, I knew this would be a fantastic book, so I read slowly, savoring each word. Wroblewski is a poet, and it shows in his language, which was astounding. I didn't want it to end, wanted to be aware of every nuance and interaction and of course I wondered what would happen in the end.
I knew that the book is a loose re-telling of the Hamlet story. The young Hamlet (Edgar), whose mother is named Trudy (Gertrude was Hamlet's mother), finds out that his uncle has killed his father. But there is much more to the book than just this fact.
I don't want to spoil the ending for you, but if you keep in mind the Hamlet story the ending makes sense.
If you never read another fiction book, read this one. It leaves all others behind, believe me.
Stephen King read this book and raved about it; he said he would consider reading it again. I NEVER read books a second time, but I am looking forward to reading "Edgar Sawtelle" again in a year or so, to savor it all over again.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
November 21, 2009 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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Susan Henn Jean - I am curious. Almost 1400 people have read and reviewed this book on Amazon. About 400 people gave it five stars and about 300 people gave it only one star. The other 800 reviews were split between two, three, and four stars. So... what about this book would make some people love it, some people hate it, and the majority of the people be so so about it? I am curious...

Jean Susan - As I found in the past, your questions are unsettling and they cause me to have to re-examine what I think and write. That's a good thing. So, I started on a quest to figure out why others don't like this book. (I already know why I loved it.)
I read some of the reviews and most of the negative reviews seem to center on the ending and the plot. The ending: When I read the book, I was aware that it was tied to the Hamlet story. As I finished the ending I was upset and disgusted but then I remember the ties to Hamlet. I remember thinking, "Oh, yes, it's a tragedy." As son as I had that thought, I calmed down and became ok with the ending. It's not supposed to be "happily ever after." As Stephen King said, at one point in his reading he "put all comparisons aside and let it just be itself."

The other problem some readers seem to have with the book is their belief that all their questions must be answered, all "I"s dotted and all "T"s crossed. They want everything explained and they want complete motives for all the actions of all the characters. I didn't pay much attention to that stuff; I was having too much fun enjoying his beautiful language and trying to figure out what was going to happen next. One reviewer mentions, for example, that there are two kinds of readers - ones who follow the poison narrative piece from the beginning ans who follow it through the book, and others who don't. I don't. When the poison came up later, I remembered and said, "Oh, I see how it fits in." Another reader wanted to know how the dogs were special; I figured it out, but it was more intuited than stated. I prefer this kind of book - one that doesn't hit you in the head with meaning but that lets you get it - or not- on your own.
If you haven't read the book yet, I don't know if you will like it or not. I got it originally from the library (where I get most of my books these days), then I knew I had to have a copy so it's now in my collection.
I would let you read it, but maybe it's time for me to read it again myself and take some notes.

Susan Henn Thanks - insightful response. :) (P.S. - it makes me miss our old book conversations!)

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