The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
Published September 2009 by Harper Collins
Edgar, born mute, grows up the only child of parents who raise and train a very particular type of dog on a farm in the countryside of Wisconsin. Despite his handicap, life is very good for Edgar who communicates with his family and the dogs in sign language. But when tragedy strikes, sign language is not enough. Then Edgar is forced to flee the farm with only three of his yearling pups. Learning to survive, Edgar comes of age during his time on the run. Ultimately, Edgar must decide whether to leave home for good or return and try to reveal the truth of what happened on the farm.
This is Wroblewski's first novel. It has received almost universal praise for both the story and Wroblewski's writing style. He writes without sentimentality (despite including a handicapped child, pets, and death) while really making the reader feel the joy and pain of his characters. Wroblewski's writing is beautiful.
But, once again, I felt like there was just too much of it, particularly when explaining the training, upkeep and record keeping of the dogs. And it felt like Wroblewski tried to incorporate every trick that might be taught in a writing class; he incorporates elements of Homer's "Odyssey" and Shakespeare's "Hamlet." It might be, too, that I have just read too many "dog" books lately, having recently read Garth Stein's "The Art of Racing In The Rain" and Carolyn Parkhurst's "The Dogs Of Babel." I enjoyed the beginning of the book and the last third is tense and shocking. All in all, I liked this book a lot. I just don't know that I would call it a classic.