Monday night I completed my reading of a massive "first" novel by David Wroblewski: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. Reading all 565 pages of this tome (the longest I've read in a decade) gave me hope that the literary novel is not yet dead in America and that, yes, publishers may still take a chance on first time authors and may actually publish works that are not of a particular genre.
What is the book about? It's the story of a boy born mute (he can hear and see, just doesn't speak), a boy who gains a peculiar affinity and ability to communicate with dogs. But the story is about so much more--witness the title "Sawtelle". Mr. Wroblewski's clever title was not lost on me (I love literary devices, allusions, and symbolisms, and this book was thick with them). Edgar can't speak, but he sees everything, and as his family is divided and destroyed, he tries desperately to redeem the people he loves.
Now, the book is a downer (I won't spoil the ending). But Mr. W. has created a nice story and tells is so wonderfully and in such complexity and beauty, it is a pleasure to read. In fact, reading this book set me to writing my own book about my childhood dog. I couldn't communicate with this mutt, but the dog was with me through my entire childhood and into my early adolescence and when he died he had three legs, a big gash in his side, and one ear. How did the little dog get in this condition? You'll have to read my book. But I can guarantee it won't be 565 pages!