Thursday, July 7, 2016

David Wroblewski - The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose remarkable gift for companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong friend and ally. Edgar seems poised to carry on his family's traditions, but when catastrophe strikes, he finds his once-peaceful home engulfed in turmoil.
Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the Sawtelle farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who accompany him, until the day he is forced to choose between leaving forever or returning home to confront the mysteries he has left unsolved.
Filled with breathtaking scenes—the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a fateful vision rendered in the falling rain—The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a meditation on the limits of language and what lies beyond, a brilliantly inventive retelling of an ancient story, and an epic tale of devotion, betrayal, and courage in the American heartland.

Comment: I borrowed this from the person that usually lends me them in Portuguese. The title was familiar but I guess I lost the hype when it was most discussed after its publishing. I was still curious to read it and basically devoured it in two days, although I confess I was disappointed with the ending! I didn't check any reviews nor did I read the blurb quite well and it was still a surprise how some things developed.

This is the story od Edgar Sawtelle, a young kid that is mute but learns to communicate with his parents and the dogs they train since birth. Edgar's live is peaceful until the day his uncle Claude returns home. After that things go terribly wrong and Edgar's father dies. Edgar knows who killed him despite all pointing out to a natural death and his behavior changes. Edgar hides for  while but can't stop thinking about what happened. But can Edgar challenge fate and work things out? Or is his life already marked to cease?

The first pages/chapters of this book were amazing. I was reading at full speed and was extremely motivated to know what would happen next. I really thought the way this was going would be to focus on Edgar's life and the challenges he would face for being mute. I definitely didn't expect all the tragedy that happens from a certain point on.
Many reviewers say the tragedy didn't have to exist and this is a contemporary version of Hamlet but I'll be honest and say this never crossed my mind while I was reading. I was just hoping things to truly turn for the better. I always expected the end to be positive and hopeful.
I confess I cried a lot near the end but not exactly for the very end, more because of some details and the missed possibilities such an end entailed.

This book focuses a lot on the dogs and the relationship one can have with them. I liked this side of the book and especially the bond Edgar had with some of them. There's some lesson in all this but my favorite thing is how the simplicity of how a dog can help us and be a support for us is such a beautiful thing and the animal's intuition can be the best thing we have to keep on going day after day...

When things start to change in the novel, I was slightly annoyed because we could still see Edgar learn things without having to go through the path the author was starting up. I still think it was avoidable if only that was the real intent here.
I lied the pace for the most time but I felt some passages were too much and could have been told differently without removing consistency to the story.
I was curious to where all the ideas and information we were being told would lead to. Obviously, it was irritating the reader is rooting for Edgar to succeed and return to his normal life - albeit losing his childhood naiveté on the way - but apparently the Shakespeare tragedy influence was too much. The end was pure tragedy and only served to tell us life can suck and is unfair and maybe we can't change it at all. Not the best message one should hope for, though.
This is even more annoying when we reflect on the end and realize nothing was solved or revealed and no on would ever know the truth of anything! Poor Edgar, I thought.

I liked Edgar as a character. He's brave, he's special and I thought his life would go on being special, he would overcome his muteness somehow and be brilliant. The end also made me think Edgar would never turn into the person I expected.
His moments with his parents and dogs were amazing. Such a perfect environment that I wish time could freeze so we could pretend nothing ever happened after.
Claude became a cliché and I felt Trudy and Gar were tools but their presence wasn't fully appreciated.

In the end I liked some parts but the ones I disliked stay the longest and make me want to rewrite everything so Edgar could have a positive future. I know reality is harsh and sometimes we can't escape our destiny but not everything has to be a drama, for sure.
Grade: 6/10

No comments:

Post a Comment