Friday, October 03, 2008

Facing Reality

And the reality is, I am just not going to finish The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I haven't picked it up since I wrote that post last Sunday and instead have been reading Raven Black, a mystery by Ann Cleeves, set in the Shetland Islands. It's very Ruth Rendell-ish and I'm liking it a lot.

It's not that The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is bad. It's fine, if you like long, slow moving books about dogs. Which I don't. Citizen Reader didn't like it either and she has a much more finely honed discussion of it; read that here.

One more complaint: Like Citizen Reader, I was curious about this book because it is set in Northern Wisconsin (my home state, and the home state of Citizen Reader). Northern Wisconsin has its own unique culture, history, foods, and traditions, barely a hint of which showed up in this book (or to be perfectly precise, not before page 70, where I abandoned reading it). I was really hoping for some Alice Munro-ish examination of rural life, and didn't find it. This book could have been set anywhere, and that's just a waste. (If you have read further than page 70 and have discovered a supper club please leave a comment.)


The A.D.D. Knitter said...

I am a huge fan of Alice Munro as well:) Which part of Wisconsin are you from? I'm from Mpls. and we used to go to Siren, WI. every summer...

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more! I didn't get any sort of "Wisconsin" feel from this book at all. No supper clubs, indeed. That's just wrong.

Sarah Laurence said...

Hi Becky!

I heard about your blog from a commenter (Ms. Wis) on my review of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I too picked it up and put it aside for a faster paced book, but I’m so glad I returned to it. It’s not fast-paced until the final chapters, but it’s still well worth reading. It takes a while to get into it.

The author grew up in that part of Wisconsin. I live in Maine, and I’ve only ever been to visit family in Madison so I can’t judge how well he captures the region. His description of the boy’s wilderness adventure with his dogs is lovely, but you have to read to get there. The narrative does have a very isolated feel to it.

Have you read Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres? It captures small town rural life and has a Shakespeare theme. Plus no dogs. Sitenfeld’s American Wife is set in Wisconsin and is a more social book. Both are really good. So is Alice Monro.

Glad to have discovered your blog. A book a week for over 25 years is impressive. I wish there were many more like you.

Kim said...

Hi Becky,
I have been digging around your blog looking for books to add my to never-ending to read list. I also abandoned this book---3 times. One of my dearest friends sent this to me last Christmas, and she adored it. We usually have similar tastes, but I could not get into this one. She passed away last spring, so guilt keeps taking me back to this book, but I think knowing that I'm not the only person who didn't enjoy it will help me through the guilt. :)

By the way, I loved Tana French's books. I thought they were clever. I'm in the process of deciding whether or not to continue The Little Giant of Aberdeen County. It's painfully slow right now.

Have a great weekend!

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