Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Following the lead of the St. Albert Public Library, Oprah picked the next title for her book club: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, the debut novel by David Wroblewski. We recommended it in our St. Albert Gazette "Great Reading" picks back in July. But alas, I can't claim credit for discovering it as it was one of the summer's buzz books, with great reviews all over the place (Ron Charles in the Washington Post for example.)
Here's the Gazette blurb: "Prepare for the dog days of summer with this widely-acclaimed novel that readers can lose themselves in. A riveting family story, based loosely on Hamlet, about a mute boy, Edgar, and the special dogs he breeds on a remote Wisconsin farm."
I paired it with another summer dog novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein: "A novel narrated by Enzo, the family dog, about his master Denny, an aspiring Seattle race-car driver. It may sound odd but even hard-hearted skeptics will be pulled into this moving story of a family in crisis."
My family and I listened to Enzo's tale on unabridged audiobook as we drove to Vancouver Island this summer. We finished it on the drive back, somewhere east of Vancouver I think, with all members of the family blubbering away (I'm not spoiling the plot - from page one you know that, well, Enzo dies).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Flying Troutmans

Miriam Toews is in town tonight for a reading organized by Laurie Greenwood's new venture, "Laurie's Book Company". Without Laurie's bookstore, Volume Two, around, readings have different venues. Toews is at "The ARTery", which is located at 9535 Jasper Ave. in Edmonton. Volume Two was always a really cramped spot, very cozy shall we say, so these other venues may be just fine! Free admission.
Toews is reading from her new novel, The Flying Troutmans, just out last week. This road novel begins with Aunt Hattie saying, "Yeah, so things have fallen apart." Hattie has returned from Paris to the Paris of the Prairies, Winnipeg (yeah, I know, Saskatoon is the Paris of the Prairies. What is Winnipeg then? Chicago of the North?). Hattie's sister, Min, is mentally ill. Min's two kids need looking after, with 15 year old Logan in trouble at school and 11 year old Thebes trying to keep everything together. At a loss for what to do, Hattie hits the road, kids too, headed to the U.S. with the vague plan to find the kids' AWOL dad.

Single mum, absent parent, mental illness, sad/funny - sounds Toewsian! The reviews are pretty great thus far. It did miss the Giller long list though - more about that another time.