Monday, January 26, 2009

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, mini review

Just finished this last week, definitely a must read. No spoilers, but if you read it, stop and consider what details hit you as significant and what seem irrelevant, then as you read it, see if you are correct.

If you are the type to read the blurb on the dust jacket (I'm surprised to find many people don't), don't get too caught up in thinking you can imagine what will happen.

The most surprising thing to me is that this is one novel where much of the foreshadowing details aren't explained, and details that seemed to precipitate something big are misleading. Usually that ends up feeling disappointing or confusing. In this book, it doesn't. It fits. It makes sense in this meandering, fairy tale style, little orphan boy, Lassie saves the day sort of way.

The characters are pretty brisk. Trudy and Gar both seem extremely complicated, but it's only by inference, not by any internal monologue that you have to plod through. They are described fairly briefly but you can sense how they've been shaped. No wasted dialogue to have to figure them out. Edgar himself is amazing, and you don't for a second feel sorry for him like another author might want you to. Almondine, a main character in her own right, knows only loyalty and desires to protect. Imaginary to think a dog could ponder protecting it's family, but we do have guard dogs, right?

Two other really compelling characters (no spoilers so I'm being vague) are fascinating in how they perceive themselves, and how they describe themselves, and you get to figure out how on target they are.

The book is lush, beautiful, and is probably going to be a movie soon. I tried to mentally cast the characters and could only come up with Chris Cooper as Claude, Steve Buscemi as Henry, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Edgar, and David Morse as Glen. Trudy seems like she could be Laura Linney but maybe not as pretty? I can't find anyone for Gar, as yet. He has to resemble Chris Cooper a great deal, but I hate those movies when one guy plays two roles. Alas, no role for Viggo.

My only irritation with the book, as with myself, is it gets too wordy at times. Sometimes you want to say to the author, 'okay, so we know you own a thesaurus...yay'. He definitely puts that book to good use, I had to look up a million words and by the end of the book realized they all described pretty much the same thing, only so much more elegant.

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