The Washington Post
The Story of Edgar Sawtelleby David Wroblewski
"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 friend and ally. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar's paternal uncle… See more details below
"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 friend and ally. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar's paternal uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelles' 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. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar 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.
The Washington Post
This sprawling epic tale clocks in at 22 hours, but is well worth the time spent. Wroblewski captivates with a story of a young boy and his dogs cast into the wilderness after his father is murdered in rural Wisconsin. Richard Poe reads with a firm voice, both gripping and personal, fitting for this particular tale. Poe brings the story to life with such ease that listeners will forget they aren't actually reading the book. Steady pacing, realistic and imaginative characters and Poe's skilled performance make this a recording that (even at its length) listeners will want to hear again. This is an instant classic that will resonate for years to come. An Ecco hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 18).(Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Wroblewski's lyrical debut novel, about a young boy who runs away from home and into the Wisconsin backwoods with the loyal dogs he helped raise, is now available as an audio production, and Recorded Books couldn't have done a better job with it. Narrating is actor Richard Poe (The Sportswriter), whose readings are consistently strong, and whose deep, rumbling, assonant voice perfectly suits this psychologically complex and ultimately heartwarming material. An essential and rewarding purchase for all libraries. [With tracks every three minutes for bookmarking; audio clip available through
"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."
"Don’t let the book’s massive size fool you: This is a good old-fashioned coming-of-age yarn.Grade: A"
"…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 enchanting debut novel of the summer....a great, big, mesmerizing read, audaciously envisioned as classic Americana...One of the great pleasures of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is its free-roaming, unhurried progress, enlivened by the author’s inability to write anything but guilelessly captivating prose."
—New York Times
"Whether you read for the beauty of language or for the intricacies of plot, you will easily fall in love with David Wroblewski’s generous, almost transcendentally lovely debut novel...the scope of this book, its psychological insight and lyrical mastery, make it one of the best novels of the year...."
"In this beautifully written novel, David Wroblewski creates a remarkable hero who lives in a world populated as much by dogs as by humans, governed as much by the past as by the present. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a passionate, absorbing and deeply surprising debut."
—Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street
"A literary thriller with commercial legs, this stunning debut is bound to be a bestseller."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Edgar Sawtelle is a boy without a voice, but his world, populated by the dogs his family breeds, is anything but silent. This is a remarkable story about the language of friendship — a language that transcends words."
—Dalia Sofer, bestselling author of The Septembers of Shiraz
"The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a wooly, unlikely, daring book, and wildly satisfying."
—Mark Doty, New York Times bestselling author of Dog Years
"A stately, wonderfully written debut novel…[Wroblewski] takes an intense interest in his characters; takes pains to invest emotion and rough understanding in them; and sets them in motion with graceful language… a boon for dog lovers, and for fans of storytelling that eschews flash. Highly recommended."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"An excruciatingly captivating read…Ultimately liberating, though tragic and heart-wrenching, this book is unforgettable."
—Library Journal (starred review)
"The Great American Novel is something like a unicorn — rare and wonderful, and maybe no more than just a notion. Yet every few years or so, we trip across some semblance of one.... [an] extraordinary debut."
"The author’s spellbinding first novel…is nearly impossible to put down."
—Kirkus Reviews, First Fiction Special
Read an Excerpt
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.
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