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Wordsmith
kiakar
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

Hello David, I loved the story context. Such a moving story of a family, a dog and a kennel full of rare special dogs for them to raise for their living. Other distractions are the dr. and uncle to make it a great story. And it was definitely a long drawn out book which I am not insulting you at all. I loved the story, it just to me dragged alittle overly. But hey, its already a hit and no novel is perfect for everyone. We are all very diverified and that is what makes this wonderful world work for all.  Did your editor/publisher have any suggestions for improvement and did you take them.?
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SouthernFlame
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

David,

 

Thank you for not only sharing your posts but especially for writing such a beautiful and thought provoking book. I was curious where the name "Edgar" came from. Trudy and Claude were literarily significant, but I wondered if this name has some special significance for you. I did look up the origin of the name and the meaning was "fortunate".

 

Diane

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evollbach
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski


David_Wroblewski wrote:

By the way, if anyone has a dog, try getting them to reliably look where you are looking. It is very difficult -- I can't get Lola to do it, except by accident. She always wants to look at my face. I'd love to know if others have had more success with this.

 

 

 


My dog died, but I still have my cat. This probably isn't fair, but it does reliably get her to look where I am.

 

We live where there's a lot of wild life. When we see a deer in the backyard, we often say "look" to the cat as we are looking out the window wall at it. The cat looks out the window at the deer reliably.

 

That's not really fair, is it? We haven't tried to get her to look at our lawn furniture.  :-)

 

Beth

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David_Wroblewski
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

Hi Diane!

 

As with a lot of the names in this book, "Edgar" just sounded right to me.

That was his first name almost from the beginning. It has a sort of old-fashioned

ring to it, which I've always liked. Plus, I knew that I wanted his name to be

the same as his father's, and yet slightly different, and I liked  "Gar" as well.

So on that front, things more or less just fell into place. I never looked the

name up for its meaning until long after I'd been using it, and in fact I'd

forgotten what it meant until I read your message. 

 

As long as we're talking about names: 

 

"Sawtelle" was a name I heard one day on the radio while driving home from

work. It was early days on the novel, and Edgar didn't have a family name yet,

and I immediately fell in love with the sound of "Sawtelle". By the time I'd

parked in the driveway, the decision was made. I've been told it is a fairly 

unusual name. I don't know what the context was on the radio, or even if

it was a news report or a musical reference.  

 

-David

 


SouthernFlame wrote:

David,

 

Thank you for not only sharing your posts but especially for writing such a beautiful and thought provoking book. I was curious where the name "Edgar" came from. Trudy and Claude were literarily significant, but I wondered if this name has some special significance for you. I did look up the origin of the name and the meaning was "fortunate".

 

Diane


 

 


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vivico1
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

You know, when a couple of us were first talking about this book and maybe reading it, we saw the unusual name of Sawtelle and what the book was about. I said, maybe since he's mute and we already know hi father his going to die and he has to run, maybe the name is what he "saw" but couldn't "tell" anyone. :smileywink:

 

 


David_Wroblewski wrote:

 

As long as we're talking about names:

 

"Sawtelle" was a name I heard one day on the radio while driving home from

work. It was early days on the novel, and Edgar didn't have a family name yet,

and I immediately fell in love with the sound of "Sawtelle". By the time I'd

parked in the driveway, the decision was made. I've been told it is a fairly

unusual name. I don't know what the context was on the radio, or even if

it was a news report or a musical reference.

 

-David

 

 

Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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David_Wroblewski
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

Hi Vivian -- nothing like that intended (or even noticed!) I just liked the sound of it.

-David 


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jrobinsonkhs
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

David,

 

     I just had to write and let you know how much I enjoyed reading your novel. This novel evoked such strong emotions in me that it was almost impossible  to stop reading.  I am now  reading it for the second time.  I am "owned" by seven dogs, and  absolutely adore all of them.  One of them, Buddy, is my "Almondine."  I got so emotional reading the novel I sobbed uncontrollably.  I am reading it again because I can already see that there was a lot I missed the first time.

     I have been a high school English teacher for 19 years. I am an avid reader. I usually read an average of 2-3 books a week during the school year, but in summer read even more. I have never read a novel that touched me so deeply.  Every time I tried to talk to my husband about the novel I always got choked up trying to explain what the novel meant to me. I am teaching an elective reading class Winter semester and plan on using your book as our class novel.  If only one student feels the power of the novel, it will make the  entire class worthwhile. But since this is an elective, all who signed up love to read and I can't wait to read together and have wonderful discussions. 

     I have one other comment about the novel. Early in the novel , on page 80 to be exact , Gar stated that many times his father mailed some owners a refund and told them to get a beagle.  I take offense to that , and as I was reading the novel to my seven beagles so did they ! I will have you know that my  beagles are just a few steps behind the Sawtelle dogs in intellect! I"m sure you feel the same way I do - my dogs have enriched my life so much that only a true dog lover would understand how I feel.

   I look forward to reading your next novel.  But even if you never write another word it would not matter, you have written a masterpiece that is bound to be enjoyed for years to come.

Julie Robinson

 

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evollbach
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski


jrobinsonkhs wrote:

   I look forward to reading your next novel.  But even if you never write another word it would not matter, you have written a masterpiece that is bound to be enjoyed for years to come.

Julie Robinson

 


First, I agree with "But even if you never write another word it would not matter, you have written a masterpiece that is bound to be enjoyed for years to come." But I'm actually afraid of a letdown when David writes the next novel. This one is so lovely, I don't see how he could top it.

 

Julie, you talk about talking about the book with your husband. I know I couldn't make my husband understand, so I just keep saying, "I love this book."

 

David, just to let you know how much I love it: my hours were cut at work. I really need the money, so this is not a good thing. I thought I'd get in at least 24 hours this week but  was told yesterday I wouldn't be needed more this weekafter just 16 hours. I should have felt bad. Instead, I was glad that I had more time to read this book.

 

It's the first time in a long time that I've read a long book that seems too short.

 

Beth 

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David_Wroblewski
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

Hi Julie, first things first: I just knew that beagle crack was going to get me in trouble someday. My apologies! The truth is, I grew up with (among many other dogs) a great beagle named Barney and I love 'em, so in my mind that was a bit tongue in cheek. (And seeing that your Beagle was named Buddy, it made me wonder all over again if Beagle names are heavily skewed toward the B's.) In fact, I could have picked any breed for John Sawtelle to name there, since in his mind, there are Sawtelle dogs and then there are all others. My writerly desire for specificity briefly overcame my natural cowardice, and I decided to go with Beagle. Anyway, my other reaction was: you have seven!? Wow! How do you keep up?

 

Thanks for telling me your reaction to this story, and of course I'm honored that you'd use Edgar in your class -- are you thinking that this forum will give you extra material? Not that you need them, but just in case, there are a few discussion questions posted on www.edgarsawtwelle.com that might be a resource. And, if you haven't already, take a minute to visit the Tangents page and find the video of Rico the border collie solving a linguistic puzzle. I just love that video; the researchers at the Max Planck Institute are doing some of the best work in the world on animal cognition.

 

-David 

 

 


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David_Wroblewski
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

[ Edited ]

evollbach wrote:

<snip> ...I'm actually afraid of a letdown when David writes the next novel... <snip>

 

Beth 


 

Hi Beth, thanks for those kind words. You know, a number of people have asked me about the next book. And I must say, one lesson I've learned from the other areas of my creative life (software and photography) is that you just do the next project and try to forget how well or poorly the last one went, because they have to be independent efforts. You hope you've grown in your craft, but at the same time, every book (program, photograph) presents a unique set of challenges, and you don't know if the solutions are going to come naturally or not.

 

I remember about two years ago listening to an interview on Fresh Air between Terry Gross and Phillip Roth. She asked him what it is like to begin a new novel. He said (paraphrasing heavily here) that even now he has no idea how it is going to work out when he begins a book. He doesn't know whether he's digging himself into an impossible problem or not. And the implication was that if he could know ahead of time, he wouldn't be writing a different book, just one he'd already written, over again. I thought that was a pretty brave way of looking at it. He's not trying to top anything -- he's trying to grow as an artist. (And by the way, a friend of mine has pointed out that the principle is exactly the same if the previous effort was an abject failure in all dimensions. You don't want to be solving past problems any more than you want to be repeating past successes.)

 

No intention here to compare hold myself up to Phillip Roth in any way, shape, or form. I just thought what he said was inspiring and smart.

 

-David

Message Edited by David_Wroblewski on 08-15-2008 08:37 AM


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SheilaY
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

I am also distressed to read too much about the plot on the book jacket.  I cannot understand why the publishers woud want to spoil the suspense and a gradual unveiling of the storyline. It is similar to the recent craze among  movie makers who give away most of the plot highlights in the movie trailers.

 

I am almost at the point where I consider wrapping the cover in brown paper before opening the book.

 

I can't think that authors agree with this trend.  What do you think about it?

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evollbach
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski


David_Wroblewski wrote: No intention here to compare hold myself up to Phillip Roth in any way, shape, or form. I just thought what he said was inspiring and smart.

 

-David

Message Edited by David_Wroblewski on 08-15-2008 08:37 AM

Just between you and me, David, you are a far better writer. Yes, I've read some of Roth, and I never got caught up in one of his books. Yours: I finished it two days ago and still am not over it. I started a book by Michael Ondaatje, and it's such a terrible letdown after yours.

 

I'm telling everyone I can think of to read this book and that they'll thank me if they do.

 

Beth 

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evollbach
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

[ Edited ]

SheilaY wrote:

I am also distressed to read too much about the plot on the book jacket. I cannot understand why the publishers woud want to spoil the suspense and a gradual unveiling of the storyline. It is similar to the recent craze among movie makers who give away most of the plot highlights in the movie trailers.

 

I am almost at the point where I consider wrapping the cover in brown paper before opening the book.

 

I can't think that authors agree with this trend. What do you think about it?


Sheila,

 

I agree. But I think they think that's the way to get more people interested. What are they going to do, just say, believe me, it's really, really good?

 

I admit, I read reviews. But sometimes I'm sorry I did for the reasons you cite. And sometimes I refuse to reed the book cover/flaps until I've read the book because the author is someone I'm already familiar with. That always works for me.

 

In the case of this book, I bought it the month that amazon.com chose it as the best book that month and was selling it for 40-percent off. But I couldn't help being curious and read their review. It was a good review and, frankly, it sold me.

 

Beth

Message Edited by evollbach on 08-16-2008 09:44 AM
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Amylavi
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

David,

 

I have a question about Claude's motivation. From the prologue, it seems to me that you intended that Claude had it in his mind from an early time that he would need the poison that he gets in Korea at some later time in his life. Is this to mean that Claude's relationship with Gar has been so fraught from way back that he actually intended to kill his brother? Or, is it that something in Claude drove him to want to have the poison in his possession just in case? You hint at this at the end when Claude is looking for the poison: you write on page 537:

 

     More important -- and this was hard to admit -- once whatever roiled inside that bottle was gone, it was gone for good, and the idea that it could solve his worst problems had become part of Claude's nature.... It had become, at times, almost a living presence to him. I exist for a reason. And then the exhilaration and self-loathing when he'd listened. But, if he was careful now, that bottle would be incinerated and, along with it, the very worst part of him.

 

I think this is a key passage to understanding Claude, and, thus, a critical part of the plot. With all that so many of the characters are concerned about whether their lives have a purpose, whether they are "ordinary" and what kind of a connection might exist between people and between people and dogs, this notion that Claude is concerned with "the very worst part of him" seems like a departure from the concerns of the other characters.

 

Thanks for considering this question,

Amy

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Rachel-K
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

Hi Amy,

 

Hope you don't mind if I copy your excellent questions to post in a thread devoted to Claude.

 

Also, I believe David will return to the message boards in a week, and will be catching up with posts and questions then.

 

Rachel

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evollbach
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski


Amylavi wrote:

David,

 

I have a question about Claude's motivation. From the prologue, it seems to me that you intended that Claude had it in his mind from an early time that he would need the poison that he gets in Korea at some later time in his life. Is this to mean that Claude's relationship with Gar has been so fraught from way back that he actually intended to kill his brother? Or, is it that something in Claude drove him to want to have the poison in his possession just in case? You hint at this at the end when Claude is looking for the poison: you write on page 537:

 

     More important -- and this was hard to admit -- once whatever roiled inside that bottle was gone, it was gone for good, and the idea that it could solve his worst problems had become part of Claude's nature.... It had become, at times, almost a living presence to him. I exist for a reason. And then the exhilaration and self-loathing when he'd listened. But, if he was careful now, that bottle would be incinerated and, along with it, the very worst part of him.

 

I think this is a key passage to understanding Claude, and, thus, a critical part of the plot. With all that so many of the characters are concerned about whether their lives have a purpose, whether they are "ordinary" and what kind of a connection might exist between people and between people and dogs, this notion that Claude is concerned with "the very worst part of him" seems like a departure from the concerns of the other characters.

 

Thanks for considering this question,

Amy


Amy, thanks for asking this. It's exactly what I wanted to ask, and you put it so well.

 

Beth 

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vivico1
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

David,

If there is one thing you would like us to take away from reading this book, what would it be? What would be the one thing you think would be the most important thing you hope readers get from this book. Thank you, Vivian

Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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jimmunson
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

David...  Enjoyed Edgar, Trudy, the dogs, and Wisconsin.  I just came out of the

hospital and read Edgar in its entirety.   Is it possible you are baiting us for a

follow up?  Like  Edgar retrieved from the fire,  Trudy capitalizing on the log

notes, a gathering of all the dogs at Henry's,  Glen's trek on dealing with his

blindness, Edgar actually catching more fish in Wisconsin lakes?????

Thanks for the fine adventure you gave me.  It has helped in my healing - it

kept me in bed when I needed that.  Also, this pleasure of mind involvement

defintely kept DOWN the pain level.  Best to you.  Jim Munson  Sacramento,

California  but  a  Wisconsin resident for at least 15 years.

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Luff2Read
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

This book begs a sequal.  What happens to the dogs once they get to town?  Does Trudy ever meet Henry?  What happens to Glen?  Does the barn get rebuilt?  Does Trudy continue to breed Sawtelle dogs?  

 

I absolutely loved this book.  I finished it this morning and can't quit thinking about it.  Oh, my goodness!  

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David_Wroblewski
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Re: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Questions for David Wroblewski

[ Edited ]

vivico1 wrote:

David,

If there is one thing you would like us to take away from reading this book, what would it be? What would be the one thing you think would be the most important thing you hope readers get from this book. Thank you, Vivian


Hi Vivian, interesting question, I've been sitting here thinking about this. I guess I don't hope readers get anything in particular except for the pleasure of immersion in a story, which is the highest goal of a novel -- to occupy your thoughts as a kind of double-life as you read. I certainly don't think of this novel as having a message, or a lesson, partly because using a novel to deliver a lecture damages the story, and partly because i don't think of stories as being summarizable -- they are an experience to be had, and are irreducible. Most of the novels I love I find impossible to summarize in any meaningful way.

 

I'm not trying to be evasive here, I'm just at a loss for words. What I can tell you is that, when I first started writing Edgar's story, I was quite aware of the fact that stories that took seriously the relationship between people and dogs (or any animal, for that matter) had been for a long time relegated to children's lit, and I thought that was all wrong. (Things have changed a bit since I started writing TSOES, which was back in thre 1990's.) I've often said on the book tour that I think of this novel as "a boy and his dog story for grownups", because that's the only reduction I've considered even half-right.

 

But if I push myself a little, I suppose I'd say there is this take-away: that this story takes the relationship between people and animals seriously; and by making it the center of a dramatic story, with life and death consequences, there's a implicit claim that our connection with dogs is worthy of close, serious, adult attention. It is, after all, one of the oldest projects of humankind, living with dogs.

 

Sorry for the ramble -- we could talk for hours on this. On the www.edgarsawtelle.com website I list a few books that meant a lot to me, including Vicki Hearne's Adam's Task, Vilmos Csanyi's If Dogs Could Talk (terrible title, excellent book), and several others.

 

Please feel free to follow up if I somehow went into the weeds answering your question, as I suspect I have!

 

-David

Message Edited by David_Wroblewski on 08-25-2008 05:16 PM


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