Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


Edgar Sawtelle lives with his mother Trudy and his father Gar in the backwoods of Wisconsin, where they breed and train a fictitious species of dog, set apart by their personality, intelligence, and rational capabilities. It's a difficult job, but it's in their blood. Their loves are tranquil until Gar's brother Claude comes to visit, bringing with him an undertow of threatening mystery. When Gar dies unexpectedly, Claude is quick to take over his place in the household. Soon, Edgar discovers that Claude played a role in his father's accident, but when he tries to reveal his uncle as the murderer, his plans crash and burn- with about as much repercussion as a runaway train.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a powerful coming of age story. It borrows motifs from Hamlet and mythology, as well as from The Call of the Wild. I read it in a day, poring over it until long after the moon had risen. Then, I tucked it under my pillow, to look at again first thing the next morning. It's one of those rare books when after you've finished it, it becomes a part of you forever.

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