Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Thoughts on a pointless book (Edgar Sawtelle)

(Sigh...) This book, like so many other books, had a lot of potential and this book, like so many other books, failed to live up to it. There were moments that I loved; I loved that the main character was mute. That part was fascinating to me. I also loved that some of the perspective was from the dogs that they trained (pg. 34). I hated the rest. I seriously thought "How much time did I waste on reading this book? Where is my Prozac?" If I wanted to entertain myself with depressing deaths I would have turned on the news!

Even though I would NEVER recommend or praise this book, I will say that our book club had some really good discussions over it. Who we liked, who we hated, were some things symbolic, what was the point...yes, lots of debating and that was good.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Elisabeth's Take on 'The Story of Edgar Sawtelle'

Edgar Sawtelle

At first I was charmed by this book, the author (David Wroblewski) has an easy to read style, and I was quick to care about its main characters. Wroblewski also had the unique idea to write part of the book from the viewpoint and in the voice of a dog - which I thought was handled successfully and believably.

Set in Wisconsin, you follow Gar, Trudy, and eventually their son Edgar, through the triumphs and failures of their dog breeding business. Sometimes, as I mentioned earlier, experiencing the story through the eyes of one of these dogs, Almondine (confession - she was my favorite character).

There's tragedy interwoven throughout the book, but Wroblewski starts leaning on that option a little too heavily right about the middle of the book. I'll admit right now, I am not the kind of person who enjoys reading really dark, tragic books that 'examine and highlight the plight of the human condition' - and I started asking myself - 'do I really want to finish reading this?' But I hiked up my big girl shorts and pushed forward in the spirit of the book club. I'm proud to say I finished it.

And promptly threw it across the room.

Ok, maybe not literally (that would be childish). But I wanted to. Oh yeah, it's THAT kind of ending. Why? Wroblewski? WHY?!! What was the POINT?! I hear he took 10 years to write the book, and it's my personal opinion that he created this world he didn't know how to end - so he sent it up in completely unsatisfying smoke.

So there's my warning - if you're into 'that' kind of book, by all means dig in. But, if like me, you like to have some feeling of happiness, or at least satisfaction, at the end of a good read - avoid at all costs.

It did however, as I think my fellow Book Babes will agree, lend itself to a very lively book group discussion!


Monday, December 27, 2010

In my Opinion.....

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle received rave reviews, is a New York Times best seller, and an Oprah's Book Club selection. It's been called a remarkable hybrid, a UNICORN- rare and wonderful, with breathtaking final scenes. WHAT!?! I can't help but wonder- what did the critics read that our book club missed?? You could say it was well written but that does NOT matter to me if the story, especially the ending, is completely annoying.

SPOILER ALERT If I could have changed one thing it would have been to add some justice to the ending. Although sad, I could live with Edgar dying if the truth was revealed about his father's murder. Yes, dead, both of them. !!!!

It took David Wroblewski 10 years to write this "masterpiece". It appeared that he got completely bored and restless and he thought the best way to just get it over with was kill everyone and send the dogs into the wilderness. Huh?!

On a positive note I did like Henry but I felt bad that his fiance left him for being ordinary. She said, "Ordinary in the way you do things, ordinary in what you see and think and say. Just ordinary." Despite his ordinariness, or maybe because of it, I liked Henry. And I was happy Tinder, the wounded pup, stayed with him. Because of his hospitality he received a wonderful companion. (And Tinder will live alot longer than all the dogs dumped in the wild.)

Henry and cute dogs are no reason to read this book. There are only a few books that I will say, "DO NOT READ". This is one of them.


Friday, December 24, 2010

My Valuable Opinion On Edgar Sawtelle

I thoroughly enjoyed three-quarters of this novel. The author made it easy to connect with the beautiful, sweeping, rural landscape of Wisconsin. I found learning about something I had no previous knowledge of, training dogs, very fascinating. I had also never thought about how someone with a handicap, such as being mute, would handle an emergency situation. Poor Edgar couldn’t even make a phone call to help his dying father.

However, for how long David Wroblewski invested in writing this novel, I expected a better ending. One can only assume that the last quarter of the book was written quickly; perhaps Mr. Wroblewski was up against a deadline, just ran out of time? Or got bored and hired someone else to finish the book for him? The quality of writing just doesn’t mesh with the rest of the novel.

The truth is, the first thing you generally remember about a book is the last thing you read. If anything should be weak, it should never be the introduction or conclusion of a story. That being said, I would read another novel by David Wroblewski, because I really did enjoy his style of writing. Surely he wouldn’t make that fatal mistake again. Would he?


Thursday, December 23, 2010

It All Begins With The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

The Book That Started It All
Our first pick was Edgar Sawtelle, thank you very much Oprah Winphrey. I mean a book not only picked by the book club goddess herself, Oprah, but also 10 years in the writing, it has to be epic right? Let me just say that if you wish to have a spoiler free, unbiased review, go here.
**Ending Spoilers Alert**
I’m gonna be honest here, a lot of how I feel about a book comes down to the ending. I know that not all things can be kittens and rainbows, but if a book comes down to some sort of tragedy, I want to feel like there was some merit or point to it. The ending in this book seemed so anti-climatic and pointlessly tragic that I was just mad about it. Having said that, there were times when I enjoyed reading the book, and times when I thought it moved pretty slow. It wasn’t the amazing read I wanted it to be.
Book Club
One thing I learned from Edgar Sawtelle, is that you don’t have to love a book to enjoy dissecting it and talking about it (or griping about it). I also learned that book club doesn’t have to feel like english class, with a bunch of intellectual posturing. I love hearing how people pictured the characters. I mean the author gives guidlines but sometimes author writes Brad Pitt and we cast Johnny Depp. I also like to ask who people picked as their favorite character. They’re pretty basic questions but they can stir up a lot of spirited talk and friendly feuding.
As host of our pilot book club I wish I could offer some awesome hosting tips, but I’m drawing a gigantic blank. There was food and wine and I do remember making commemorative bookmarks for the group but we were really just dipping our toes in the book club scene then. Which brings up the point, that even if you’re not sure how it’s going to be organized or what will work for your group, don’t hold back from starting a book club of your own. You’ll figure it out as you go and have a lot of fun with awesome people and books along the way.
**Looking back now, I realize that my photo documentation skills definitely need some work.**


Sunday, December 19, 2010

By Way of Introduction.....

Elisabeth - We love books. We want you to love books too, and we want to save you from wasting time on bad books.

Andrea - And if someone outside our immediate circle of six stumbles upon this blog, we want you to save us from wasting our time on bad books too.

Oh, and we want you to love the idea of a book club as well.

Sara - We have had our book club for over two years and here is what we've learned: There is little better than food, friends and awesome conversation over a good book.

Crystal - Our hope is that our literary reviews and recaps of our book club festivities will inspire you to form your own book club and share your experiences.

Amber - We are honest, and we hope that you will come to trust our book reviews the way we know you WANT to trust Oprah's.

Caisse - Follow along with our book club picks. Read what we have to say and if you disagree, absolutely agree or are somewhere in the middle, tell us why.

Andrea - And realize that we are not English majors, we read for fun, not to take ourselves too seriously.

Elisabeth - We're here to share with you how the books we read affect us - whether they make us laugh, cry or shock our 'victorian sensibilities'.

In chorus - And the wine....don't forget the wine.