The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel (P.S.)
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The extraordinary debut novel that became a modern classic
Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose remarkable gift for companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong friend and ally. Edgar seems poised to carry on his family's traditions, but when catastrophe strikes, he finds his once-peaceful home engulfed in turmoil.
Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the Sawtelle farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who accompany him, until the day he is forced to choose between leaving forever or returning home to confront the mysteries he has left unsolved.
Filled with breathtaking scenes—the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a fateful vision rendered in the falling rain—The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a meditation on the limits of language and what lies beyond, a brilliantly inventive retelling of an ancient story, and an epic tale of devotion, betrayal, and courage in the American heartland.
You think this is terrible? Don’t you have dreams? Isn’t he there when you sleep? “My God, Edgar. This is not your father. This is Doctor Papineau. This is Page.” Edgar looked at the old man lying there, so small and frail. The same man who’d summoned the strength to lift him out of the snow by the back of his shirt. He wasn’t so innocent. I heard them talking. His mother put her face in her hands. “How are we going to tell Glen?” she said. “I don’t understand what’s happened with you. We’re
air beneath the pine began to reek of wet dog. After a while Edgar could find no position that was both comfortable and dry. His bones began to ache. Only Baboo passed the time with equanimity, head on paws, hypnotized by the sight of falling water, sometimes even rolling on his back to watch the proceedings upside down. At first Edgar’s thoughts were practical: they needed to keep moving. He measured his own hunger to gauge how the dogs might feel. He’d gained a sense for how long they could go
ambulance came they would know to look in the kennel. “Right.” He wrote for a minute in his notebook. “Smart. Just so you know, the operator was still on the line when you did that. She reported hearing what sounded like dogs barking.” Just then there was a knock on the door, and Annie’s muffled voice. “Glen, boiler repair is here.” “Okay,” he said, loudly. “Send them downstairs, would you? I’ll be there in a few minutes.” He turned back to them. “Among my glorious duties, I supervise certain
objectivity. Another life was inconceivable. It would be much later before he’d realize they’d seduced themselves that night—seduced themselves into believing they understood all the costs and consequences of what they wanted. That no mistake they might make could equal what had already happened. That their calm wasn’t simply a veneer. SINCE THEY WERE IN TOWN ALREADY, Trudy decided they would eat lunch at the Mellen Diner. As soon as they were seated, Doctor Papineau hailed from across the
withdrawn. The weather had turned warm and after breakfast Gar talked her into sitting in a big overstuffed chair that he moved out to the porch. He brought her a blanket and coffee. She told him, as gently as she could, to leave her be, that she was fine, that she wanted to be alone. And so he stayed Almondine on the porch and walked to the kennel. After morning chores he carried a brush and a can of white paint to the birches. When he finished painting the cross he used his hands to turn the