The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is hugely popular right now, but if you haven’t already read it, let me recommend it highly. This is an unusually fine work of fiction. Edgar is the third generation of Sawtelles on their land in northern Wisconsin. His grandfather began the family occupation of selective breeding of dogs, “dogs so unlike the shepherds and hounds and retrievers and sled dogs he used as foundation stock they became known simply as Sawtelle dogs.” Edgar is mute from birth and uses sign language with the dogs and other people. A Sawtelle dog named Almondine has been his companion since birth; she and Edgar have an intuitive bond with and understanding of one another. The dogs and their training are one major motif of the book; the other is the events of the human family, Edgar in particular. This novel is wonderfully written and full of astute observations. Each character is deeply developed, dog and human alike. You will not forget it.
Like Timbuktu and The Art of Racing in the Rain (both reviewed in earlier posts), dogs narrate part of this book. It’s fascinating to compare how different writers imagine dogs’ thoughts and observations. All the dogs in this novel are highly intuitive, and their qualities are explained in part by the breeding program the Sawtelles have followed, yet that is not quite the whole explanation. In fact, like other writers, Wroblewski describes dogs as different from humans but not in any way “less.” The dogs understand through finely attuned senses and deeply generative natures. And I’m easy to convince on that one.
By the way, I didn’t plan to be writing about dogs so frequently, but the more I have written, the more books featuring dogs have made their way to my notice. It must be serendipity–or something like that.
Request The Story of Edgar Sawtelle from the Heights Libraries today–and enjoy!