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Monday, June 23, 2008

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

David Wroblewski
Everytime I go to the dentist or doctor's office and pick through the magazines lately, I have seen rave reviews about this newly distributed, remarkable book. Of course, we at Lemuria have been hearing about it for quite a while. Harper Collins said it is one of the finest books they have published in 10 years. Tom Watson, former Lemuria employee who just moved to Dallas, compares it to Hamlet. J.C. Patterson, author and reviewer for the Clarion Ledger, called to say he is not halfway through the book and he finds it so intriguing that he just couldn't wait to finish it before sharing his enthusiasm with anyone else who has read or is reading it. Billie Green and Nan Goodman, two of the unBoston Tea Party group at Lemuria, are staying up late to read it. Norma Cox couldn't even wait for someone else to finish it at the store and bought her own hardback copy just to see what all the hype at Lemuria is about.

No one is going to be surprised to hear this dog lover say this is about as good as it gets. It's all about dogs and much more. It's about people who train dogs and breed them and make their living off the proceeds from these endeavors. It's about a boy named Edgar who can't speak but can train dogs and see into the souls of those dogs and people around him. It's got seers and furies and Shakespearian overtones. It's got mystery and perhaps murder. It's about adventure and disaster. It's about surviving and survival of the fittest when some of the fittest aren't even human. It's a book we will be talking about a long time after this initial brouhaha. It is a classic in its own time.


Eleanor said...

I wonder if you might be interested in another dog book, this one actually narrated entirely by a labrador (but no, it's not the Starbucks book).

A DOG AMONG DIPLOMATS (April 2008) is the second book in a quirky mystery series by J.F. Englert. The first book, A DOG ABOUT TOWN was published in May 2007, and the third book, A DOG AT SEA, is scheduled for publication in April/May of 2009.

I'm helping author J.F. Englert reach out to bloggers, and I'd be happy to send you review copies of either or both books if you're interested!

Englert is also offering 10 complimentary copies of either book to independent bookstores to give out to their customers.

An overview of the books and excerpts from reviews already in are below.


BULL MOOSE DOG RUN MYSTERY SERIES - A Dog About Town, A Dog Among Diplomats

In writing this fanciful mystery series, Englert adopts the daring and original conceit of employing a first-person narration by a labrador-cum-detective, Randolph. The first book in the series, A Dog About Town, was recognized with the 2007 fiction award from The Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA).

Unbeknownst to his owners, Randolph (a black lab) is both sentient and literate--even well-read, spending much of the time that he has to himself at their Upper West Side apartment immersed in books. A year before the first novel opens, Randolph's mistress Imogen disappears without a trace, leaving behind a broken-hearted and mystified boyfriend and dog.

In A DOG ABOUT TOWN, the object of Randolph's ability to read and to reason turns from private past time to undercover detective work as he gently prods his less-enlightened owner, Harry, toward the answers behind a suspicious death--which also holds clues to Imogen's disappearance. Combining his powers of reasoning with his superior sense of smell (100,000 more powerful than that of humans), he is able to literally sniff out the trail, as well as the guilty parties.

In A DOG AMONG DIPLOMATS, Randolph dedicates himself to a second murder case—this time one with ties to the U.N. and in which Imogen is implicated as a possible suspect.

Advance praise for A DOG AMONG DIPLOMATS
Englert's droll mix of mystery, philosophical musing about man and beast, political doings at the U.N. and the mysteries of love make this an elegant, funny and inspiring romp in the park. - Publishers Weekly

LibraryThing members on A DOG AMONG DIPLOMATS
"This book reminded me of two things, both very disconnected: the old-time movie serials where the heroine is always left in utmost peril until the next sequence and P.G. Wodehouse."

"the writing is sharp and witty"

"I couldn't help but fall in love with Randolph."

"a marvelous study of character, especially the dog's, and has some of the funniest writing I've ever read in the genre."

"Like Wodehouse, [Englert] often throws off phrases that you want to reread just for the sheer pleasure of it."

Nancy said...

This is one of those rare books that I, too, am trying to get everyone to read--so I can talk about it. I sometimes balance more than one book at a time, but once I started reading "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" (on my electronic reader), I put down everythng else and read every chance I had. An eight-hour car trip saw me to the end. Then I turned to page one and reread the first two chapters.

I don't even know how to describe the book. It is so much more than "a dog book." I don't even know whether I should mention the allusions to "Hamlet." I already knew to expect them, but I wonder if they are that obvious otherwise. Knowing at least prepares you (in the same way that the title "The TRAGEDY of Hamlet" does)for the heartbreaking elements of the book.

The author made the individual dogs are real as Adams' rabbits in "Watership Down." I can't say enough about this fascinating, beautifully written novel.