Saturday, January 9, 2010


...sometimes it gets discouraging. The daydreaming and the ideas. Those interesting thoughts and periodic flashes of something that could one day be considered brilliance.
And just when I find myself falling into one of those, "writing grooves," when pretty much everything starts making perfect sense...I read a novel so utterly tantalizing, I'm instantly tossed back into my place, along with the other twenty million author wanna-be's drifting aimlessly about, lost in thought, or just lost.
Edgar Sawtelle was born mute, speaking only in sign, to his parents in a remote farmstead in rural Wisconsin.
While the novel is named after young Edgar, the story revolves around the "Sawtelle Dogs," a fictinal breed of canine started generations earlier by Edgar's grandfather, who sets out to create the perfect companion.
What begins as a slowly moving, poetic glimpse into the Sawtelle' s family history, veers without warning toward a drama, smells of mystery, hints of the super-natural, to finally emerge as a tragedy, whispering the likes of Shakespeare's "Hamlet."
David Wroblewski swares that he never intended to re-write "Hamlet," that his intentions were of original thought. And while the characters honestly don't resemble the ones from Shakespeare's famous play, which I read a thousand years ago in English Lit, it's the storylines that run parallel. And frankly, it doesn't matter. Edgar's story is unforgettable.
And if perhaps the story itself isn't enough, Wroblewski's style of pen keeps the pages turning...
"...They were almost home, walking the road, the world cottoned out ahead, when something caught Edgar's eye. He stopped near the narrow grove of trees that projected into the south field atop the hill. A granite ledge swelled from the ground there, gray and narrow and barnacled with moss, cresting among the trees and submerging near the road like the hump of a whale breaking the surface of the earth. As his father walked along, Edgar stepped into the wild mustard and Johnson grass and waited to see if the ground might ripple and seal over as the thing passed. Instead, a shadow floated into view at the ledge's far end. Then the shadow became a dog, nose lowered to the mossy back of the leviathan as though scenting an old trail. When the dog reached the crest of the rock, it looked up, forepaw aloft, and froze..."
Fifteen drafts and several years were spent creating "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle." The laborous edit work, the re-writes, the third party volunteer work...tedious to no end. And in this case, it paid off.
Some novels I read and can pretty much visualize the movie set as I thumb through the pages. "The Road." "Feedomland." "Gone Baby Gone." That vampire saga we've all been caught up in. Suzanne Collins's "Hunger Games" in the not too distant future I'm sure. As for Edgar...I hope it's left alone. I don't want Hollywood to change the sights and sounds so perfectly described by Wroblewski. It's that good...