I just finished reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. It is the story of several generations of a family that breeds and trains dogs. The “Sawtelle dog”, is carefully bred and then kept and trained by the Sawtelle family until they reach their first birthday. The result is a highly sought after animal who is a good pet, a good worker, and uniquely in tune with it’s “people”. The author follows key family members and we see how that vision is developed and evolved in them and then transmitted to their dogs. Edgar is the youngest of the Sawtelles and we experience his birth and coming of age. He is a very unique young man and we watch him evolve and come to understand himself and the world around him through his animals.
The book is about family, our relationships with our animals, and communication. How do we communicate with the world around us, including our pets? What do we ever really know about another person, and are they really presenting their true nature to us? The book is also about intuition, passion, and vision and how they are developed and honed in Edgar.
The most beautiful aspect of this book, and it’s hard to find just one to focus on, is by far the way the author brings these animals to life. I was astonished at his ability to describe intricate nuances of a dogs behavior, and bring to life the individual personalities they each possess. He also reinforces the suspicion that some of us have from time to time that our pets know more about life than we do. Even if you are not a lover of animals this book will be enjoyable. There is plenty of substance about human nature, intrigue, family relationships, and the ever familiar coming of age story presented from a totally unique perspective.
The language of this book is beautiful. I could see the colors. I could smell the smells. It gave me chills, and tears, and a few good laughs. A word of warning. The beautiful language of this book is long. It is a very long book. For the first quarter of the book I struggled with it. Nothing happened and at times I was a little bored and frustrated. I stuck with it because this book got such stellar reviews. After being almost lulled to sleep by the author, the book explodes. It is a powerful moment made that much more powerful precisely because of the lull of ordinary life that precedes it. The author very purposely and very deliberately illustrates how life can change in the blink of an eye when we least expect it. From that point on I struggled between wanting to hurry up and find out what happens and never wanting the book to end. This was a very satisfying, unique, and beautiful book. I highly recommend it.