Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. I did not want to read it because I had heard it was so sad. In fact, my friend, Laura, in an effort to tell me how much she hated it, and to deter me from reading it, told me everything that will eventually happen. Then my book group picked it for our BFB.
Every spring, my book group picks a BFB (Big Fat Book) to read over the summer. We don't meet in July, so we can start reading in June, and take the whole summer to read it if we want. Last year, we chose Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, which is a BFB, indeed. This year, although I voted for 2666, War and Peace, and Infinite Jest, I was out numbered by the people who wanted to read Edgar. Really, Edgar is hardly even a BFB, at only 576 pages.
Although I had been warned not to read Edgar, I had actually picked up a nice copy of it at a used book sale, after telling my sister how much I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. She thought that the premise of The Art of Racing was a little hokey, and said that if she was going to read a dog book, she would read Edgar. Laura hadn't even mentioned that Edgar involved dogs. hmmm.
The Art of Racing in the Rain is a fantastic book that admittedly sounds hokey when described. It is a story of a man's struggle with life, loss, and parenting, told by his dog, Enzo. Enzo's primary frustration in the book is that he cannot communicate with humans through any means other than gestures. He curses his floppy tongue and his lack of opposable thumbs throughout the book, but manages to communicate in a crystal clear manner when it is most important.
In Edgar, the primary character, yep, it's Edgar, is unable to speak or make any understandable noises. He was born that way, and learned to sign in order to communicate. He can also write, but it is his signing that is more interesting because his dogs learn to understand his signs. In a way, Edgar is not unlike Enzo, in that they both struggle to make themselves heard through gestures, however Edgar has the advantage of more useful thumbs.
I know tragedy is on its way. I know I may not love this book anymore when I post next. But for now, I am really enjoying the story, and the silent voice of its teller.