Worth reading: The thoughts of a dog
David Wroblewski, author of the inter-species coming-of-age novel "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" will speak in Tulsa this weekend.
Many critics have analyzed, examined and dissected David Wroblewski‘s first novel “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” (HarperCollins, 2008). With good reason – for his novel is an extraordinary accomplishment. Wroblewski will be in Tulsa this Saturday, Oct. 23, at TU‘s Nimrod Conference and Sunday, Oct. 24, at Harwelden at 7 p.m. sponsored by BookSmart. Don’t let this moment pass without being there to hear one of America’s up-and-coming fiction writers speak.
Superficially, the novel is about a 14-year-old mute boy named Edgar raised on a dog breeding/training farm in Wisconsin in the 1970s. Beneath the surface is betrayal – and its opposite: loyalty – coming-of-age angst and, most prominently, intra- and inter-species communication.
A reviewer wrote that non-contact with dogs won’t stop one from appreciating the Sawtelle tale. Maybe.
A dear friend, who is just not a dog-person, said after the first few chapters she stopped reading because she wouldn’t waste her time reading the thoughts of a dog. There are only four chapters in the dog’s voice, Almondine, out of many chapters in this 600-page book. But that response is defensive. Either you think a dog has something worthwhile to say or you don’t. This story is no lightweight “Marley and Me,” although they have a common thread and I liked both of them. Both books respect animals for their intrinsic souls, not for how long the snout, or how pointed the tail, or how obediently respondent to commands.
Wroblewski, in some interviews, gets testy when the questioner keeps bringing up parallels to Shakespeare's "Hamlet." It’s there all right, but Wroblewski wonders why critics fail to underline Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” analogy, which is a stronger influence. You remember the boy raised by wolves. Wroblewski even uses Kipling’s name for the boy Natchoo, at one point.
To not read “Sawtelle” is to not read "Moby Dick,” a novel that immortalized a whale. You’ll never forget Almondine and the Sawtelle dogs either.