Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Recently finished a book I received for Christmas--the only one I didn't specifically ask for. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski was a book that, I admit, I was a bit skeptical about before reading. For one, it's an Oprah's Bookclub book. (I don't have anything against Oprah, nor do I really have anything for Oprah, but I often find that her books tend to feel almost as if they follow a pattern, or a formula.) 

However, I was pleasantly surprised by Edgar Sawtelle's story. Edgar, born mute (but not deaf) acquires a special relationship with the Sawtelle dogs that his family breeds and trains in a very new way. As a writer, I admired Wroblewski's gumption at writing several short sections entirely from one of the dog's point of view. Not only did Wroblewski do many daring things in the writing, the plot, and POV, I also felt that his descriptions were beautifully written, with a focus on the day-to-day moments of Edgar's life. Also, I was excited to see Wroblewski use the supernatural in a way that seemed to fit very well. 

It seems that some bloggers were unhappy with the ending of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, I think that if Wroblewski had done anything different, he would not have been following the actual story, instead just giving readers what they wanted. I'm sure many of Oprah's Bookclub followers expect inspiring endings--and boy, am I grateful that Wroblewski stuck with his instincts and let his characters act out the true ending of this story. 

Not only was this novel a good read, it also gives a little bit of hope to all of us MFAers... Wroblewski recently graduated from Warren Wilson's MFA program, and this is his first novel--which leads me to think that this could very well be his thesis. SO it is possible for MFA grads to get published and make the NY Times bestsellers list. Whew. 


Well, I received an encouraging rejection letter this week! The magazine said that while they did not feel they could publish that particular story, they wanted me to submit more material soon. 

Oh, and this is also a 'hello' from sunny California, which is why I have fallen behind a bit on my postings. 

L. Stacks


Adam Morgan said...

I read a review for this somewhere and thought the concept was really intriguing. Right up my alley, since it's subtly speculative but still literary. I was turned off by the Oprah connection too, but maybe I'll give it a shot.

I had no idea he was from Warren Wilson; I've visited there. It's west of Asheville, NC, pretty close to my parents in the mountains.

Lauren Stacks said...

Although WW is a low-residency program, and he actually lives wayyyy up in Wisconsin, so he was only in your neck of the woods for about 2 weeks out of each year...

Adam Morgan said...

This just popped into my feed reader:

Hollywood really does want to ruin every book you enjoy.

Mel said...

Hi Lauren! Sorry we totally have the same blog template. I'm going to make my own, I was just too lazy to do so when I set it up.

Anyway, I am turned off by Oprah's book club, because I heard that when she let her book club lapse for a couple of months/years (I wasn't paying attention), it was because she thought there weren't that many good books out there. I've always resented her a little for that. But one of my favourite books is in her club - Anna Karenina. I read it long before she clubbed it, though.