David Wroblewski's debut novel The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, published in 2008 by HarperCollins, is beautifully written. From the beginning, Wroblewski's florid descriptions pull us right into the scene as if we were part of a hologram.
Past the turn he spotted the lantern, a gourd of ruby glass envined in black wire,the flame within a rose that sprang and licked at the throat of the glass, skewing rib-shadows across the door.
If we think this read would just be a chance to experience the peaceful, simple life in the warm hearth of a fertile, Midwestern farm told from the point of view of an innocent, young boy, then we would be sorely disappointed. The farm has a character itself with unknown secrets surrounding its origin and abandonment by the former owner. The boy Edgar, because of his handicap perhaps, is much more keen than anyone might at first think. His mother and father know this and have faith in his hidden capabilities of stealth and observation.
As the plot progresses, we are unsure about what lies around the next corner. The mood becomes progressively more eerie and downright spooky. We don't know whom to trust, if anyone, except maybe the dogs. In my opinion, the twists and turns of thoughts and events become a bit too surreal especially toward the end. Questions that we have as readers throughout the book are left unsatisfyingly unanswered.
If we read this book as aspiring writers, Wroblewski's inventive and reflective way with words make The Story of Edgar Sawtelle worth reading. If we are looking for a tight, meaningful plot with a solid reason to read the tale, we will not find it.