The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle

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The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle

by DAVID WROBLEWSKI

Doubleday Canada | December 10, 2010 | Hardcover |

3.3333 out of 5 rating. 30 Reviews
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A riveting family saga, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle explores the deep and ancient alliance between humans and dogs, and the power of fate through one boy's epic journey into the wild.

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 thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar''s lifelong companion. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar''s uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelle''s once-peaceful home. When Edgar''s father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm - and into Edgar''s mother's affections.

Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father''s death, but his plan backfires, spectacularly. Edgar flees into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm. He comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father's murderer, and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs, turn Edgar ever homeward.

Wroblewski is a master storyteller, and his breathtaking scenes - the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a ghost made of falling rain - create a family saga that is at once a brilliantly inventive retelling of Hamlet, an exploration of the limits of language, and a compulsively readable modern classic.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 576 Pages, 5.91 × 9.45 × 1.18 in

Published: December 10, 2010

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385664788

ISBN - 13: 9780385664783

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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– More About This Product –

The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle

The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle

by DAVID WROBLEWSKI

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 576 Pages, 5.91 × 9.45 × 1.18 in

Published: December 10, 2010

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385664788

ISBN - 13: 9780385664783

Read from the Book

In the year 1919, Edgar’s grandfather, who was born with an extra share of whimsy, bought their land and all the buildings on it from a man he’d never met, a man named Schultz, who in his turn had walked away from a logging team half a decade earlier after seeing the chains on a fully loaded timber sled let go. Twenty tons of rolling maple buried a man where Schultz had stood the moment before. As he helped unpile logs to extract the wretched man’s remains, Schultz remembered a pretty parcel of land he’d spied north and west of Mellen. The morning he signed the papers he rode one of his ponies along the logging road to his new property and picked out a spot in a clearing below a hill and by nightfall a workable pole stable stood on that ground. The next day he fetched the other pony and filled a yoked cart with supplies and the three of them walked back to his crude homestead, Schultz on foot, reins in hand, and the ponies in harness behind as they drew the cart along and listened to the creak of the dry axle. For the first few months he and the ponies slept side by side in the pole shed and quite often in his dreams Schultz heard the snap when the chains on that load of maple broke. He tried his best to make a living there as a dairy farmer. In the five years he worked the land, he cleared one twenty-five-acre field and drained another, and he used the lumber from the trees he cut to build an outhouse, a barn, and a house, in that order. So that he wo
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From the Publisher

A riveting family saga, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle explores the deep and ancient alliance between humans and dogs, and the power of fate through one boy's epic journey into the wild.

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 thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar''s lifelong companion. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar''s uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelle''s once-peaceful home. When Edgar''s father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm - and into Edgar''s mother's affections.

Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father''s death, but his plan backfires, spectacularly. Edgar flees into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm. He comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father's murderer, and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs, turn Edgar ever homeward.

Wroblewski is a master storyteller, and his breathtaking scenes - the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a ghost made of falling rain - create a family saga that is at once a brilliantly inventive retelling of Hamlet, an exploration of the limits of language, and a compulsively readable modern classic.

From the Jacket

A riveting family saga, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle explores the deep and ancient alliance between humans and dogs, and the power of fate through one boy's epic journey into the wild.

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 thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong companion. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar's uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelle's once-peaceful home. When Edgar's father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm - and into Edgar's mother's affections.

Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father's death, but his plan backfires, spectacularly. Edgar flees into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm. He comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father's murderer, and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs, turn Edgar ever homeward.

Wroblewski is a master storyteller, and his breathtaking scenes - the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a ghost made of falling rain - create a family saga that is at once a brilliantly inventive retelling of Hamlet, an exploration of the limits of language, and a compulsively readable modern classic.

About the Author

David Wroblewski grew up in rural Wisconsin, not far from the Chequamegon National Forest where the novel is set. He earned an MFA from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. This is his first novel.

Editorial Reviews

"I flat-out loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. . . . It’s a novel about the human heart, and the mysteries that live there, understood but impossible to articulate. . . . I closed the book with that regret readers feel only after experiencing the best stories: It’s over, you think, and I won’t read another one this good for a long, long time. . . . There’s never been a book quite like The Story of Edgar Sawtelle . I thought of Hamlet . . . and Watership Down , and The Night of the Hunter , and The Life of Pi –but halfway through, I put all comparisons aside and let it just be itself. . . . Wonderful, mysterious, long and satisfying: readers who pick up this novel are going to enter a richer world. I envy them the trip. I don’t re-read many books, because life is too short. I will be re-reading this one." —Stephen King "I doubt we''ll see a finer literary debut this year. . . . David Wroblewski’s got storytelling talent to burn and a big, generous heart to go with it." —Richard Russo "Don’t let the book’s massive size fool you: This is a good old-fashioned coming-of-age yarn.Grade: A" — Entertainment Weekly "…here is a big-hearted novel you can fall into, get lost in and finally emerge from reluctantly, a little surprised that the real world went on spinning while you were absorbed...grand and unforgettable." — Washington Post Book World "The most en
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Bookclub Guide

1. How is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle a coming of age novel?

2. What is the significance of the epigraph to the novel, taken from Charles Darwin''s The Origin of Species? How does it relate to the story it precedes?

3. What role do mysteries play in the novel? In what ways is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle a mystery?

4. Telegrams, the shape of words, muteness, barking, crossword puzzles . . . what is the importance of words in The Story of Edgar Sawtelle? And what about things that can''t be put into words?

5. How are Sawtelle dogs different from other dogs? What role do they play in the telling of the novel, and how do their perceptions change your view of the human characters?

6. What is the significance of the chapter titles (such as "A Thin Sigh," "Pirates," etc.) Did any surprise you, or give you pause?

7. Hamlet is famously about a son seeking revenge for his father''s death by poisoning (to be a little reductive). How does The Story of Edgar Sawtelle echo Hamlet? In what ways is it different?

8. How is death and mourning described and experienced differently at different times in the book?

9. How would you characterize the relationship between Edgar and his mother, Trudy?

10. How would you describe the pacing of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle? What effect does it have on your experience of the book?

11. How does The Story of Edgar Sawtelle compare to other books you have read which are prominently about animals? What makes it better or worse?

12. What is the importance of magic in the novel?

13. To what extent does Edgar create his own problems?

14. What role do settings play in The Story of Edgar Sawtelle?

15. "As they worked, they put the sky in place above, the trees in the ground. They invented colour and air and scent and gravity. Laughter and sadness."  Describe the different kinds of training in the book and what they contribute to your sense of the characters and the story.

16. Why does Edgar leave the farm without waiting for Trudy''s signal?

17. "He wouldn''t have gotten into the car with Henry if he hadn''t trusted him. There were moments when Edgar understood Henry better than Henry understood himself. What Henry couldn''t see was that, ordinary or not, he was trustworthy. That much was clear as day." How is trust important in the novel? How do people, and dogs, become trustworthy?

18. In what ways is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle an American book?

19. In its glowing review of the novel, The Washington Post Book World said that the idea of "a story about a mute boy and his dogs sets off alarm bells. . . . Handicapped kids and pets can make a toxic mix of sentimentality." How does The Story of Edgar Sawtelle avoid this danger?

20. Why did David Wroblewski choose to end The Story of Edgar Sawtelle the way he does? What is the effect of the ending of the novel?

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