Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jumping On The Bandwagon

I seem to be doing a lot of jumping on bandwagons for instance, and also here.  As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I plan to jump on one more today.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for 19 weeks, and I think Oprah even selected it for her book club.  Actually, no, who am I kidding?  I know she selected it because I love her.  I watch her show more than I would like to admit.  I occasionally even go to her website and page through O Magazine in bookstores.  And yes, I realize that she thinks she's Jesus Christ.  I don't care.  Frankly, she may very well be.

Anyway, I just finished reading this book and loved it so much that on the off chance that people haven't heard of it through one of the channels listed above, I felt the need to feature it here.

The writing is truly beautiful....evocative, lyrical, but without the grand flourishes and complex vocabulary that lesser writers often resort to in an effort to impress the reader.   It just paints an extraordinarily vivid picture, and gets you inside the head of each character.

I won't go on too much about the story since it is fairly suspenseful and mysterious, and I think that the less you know about it going in the better, but suffice to say it is not simply "a story about a boy and his dogs", which seems to be the blurb the marketing people have settled on.  This is much much more than an adult version of "Where the Red Fern Grows".

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly why I responded so strongly to this story, but the best reason I can come up with is that it somehow harkens back to, and I suppose is in the style of, some of the great eras in American literature.  Growing up it was always the authors like Faulkner, Cather, Steinbeck that I found myself falling in love with.  Something about the troubled but stoic characters out in the American Midwest always spoke to me, and I liked the spareness of language that these authors favored.  It always just seemed very honest to me, and it also seemed respectful of the reader.

David Wroblewski follows in this tradition.  Although the book is more than 500 pages, it is actually an easy read.  There are no extraneous passages or chapters, just a story that flows and characters that you feel compelled to follow.  There are not too many books of this length that really deserve to be so long, or deserve the time it takes to read them.  This one does.  Allow yourself the wonderful luxury of losing yourself in a story of this length and intricacy.  You'll be surprised at how much regret you feel when it becomes apparent that the book is coming to an end. 

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