Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Review

I recently read _The Story of Edgar Sawtelle_ in less than a week when we went on our cruise. I had trouble putting this book down. It was a great story. It had complex characters, and had some history in it. There was a bit of sinister suspense, and then of course there were the dogs, the Sawtelle dogs. These dogs were never chosen for their breed, their size, beauty or any of the typical things. These dogs were chosen for their intelligence and personality and then bred with other exceptional dogs. The story lines in this book weave in and out around the breeding and training of these dogs with the remarkable gaze, knowledge and personalities. Early on, the grandfather in this story is attracted to tales of heroic and exceptionally smart dogs. When he meets these dogs he can tell by the way they look him in the eye that they are somehow more aware than other dogs. He believes these dogs are part of an evolutionary process occurring in the canine species, that all dogs might eventually progress like these few. He becomes interested in breeding these types of dogs to see if he can achieve a quicker result than what he believes evolution is already doing. This book covers the story of the Sawtelle family over 3 generations and their single minded focus on these dogs. Each member of the family has a very different personality from the next, and they each make very different life choices. There's a lot of dysfunctional and criminal drama in this family, and throughout, these dogs are being bred and developing into these very sentient beings. The book culminates with the dogs making very conscious, free will decisions and understanding what's going on in the world around them. That said, I had a little curiosity with where the dogs end up on the last page. I understand philosophically where they are and what their decisions mean, I'm just curious about where they physically are. So if any of you out there decide to read this book, or already have, I'd love to discuss the last page with someone to get feedback on what others think about it. So in conclusion, I would highly recommend this book as a good old fashioned "yarn." It's interesting and you can get lost in it.

9 comments:

CyberKitten said...

Interesting. Most animals are either bred for function or looks. I wonder what would happen if we bred for intelligence...... [muses]

Vancouver Voyeur said...

Yeah, I was wondering that too while I read the book. I grew up with dogs and have had a number of dogs in my adult life. I had one hyper-aware and extremely intelligent dog, all the rest were just dogs. I wonder what would happen if there was selective breeding for this characteristic. Is it a function of the genes, or do dogs have souls, and it's more a function of that? I know, I'm asking this of an atheist, but I believe in the human soul, and its existence separate from the human body. Whether that's a divinely made thing or a circumstance of the cosmos, I don't know, but I believe it exists and dogs have them as well as people. Okay, I'll stop rambling now.

La Cremiere said...

I don't know if I could read a book about dogs, I'm a slow reader so it has to be capturing my imagination wholeheartedly or it will take me forever to finish it. :P

Vancouver Voyeur said...

You should give it a try. It was about more than just dogs, but I focused on the dogs because I'm a dog person.

Sadie Lou said...

I'm about a third into the book but I'm nervous. I can already foresee trouble coming...if anything should happen to the boy's sweetheart companion I'll just die! I do love the author's laidback, easy way of story telling. I settled right in. I hate that this is an Oprah boo club book though-drives me nuts. I always throw away the dustjacket if her sticker doesn't peel off.

Vancouver Voyeur said...

Sadie said: "I always throw away the dustjacket if her sticker doesn't peel off." That made me laugh.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

It sounds fascinating and a little scary, too...I have not read this bookm but from what you have shared, I am very interested!

nbrsspot.blogspot.com said...

I will have to check this out. I have switched blogs and email.. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Cant wait to see photo's if you had time to take any with such a great book to read..

CyberKitten said...

V V said: I wonder what would happen if there was selective breeding for this characteristic.

I think we'd end up with very intelligent dogs - that wouldn't do what we wanted them to do!

V V said: Is it a function of the genes, or do dogs have souls, and it's more a function of that? I know, I'm asking this of an atheist, but I believe in the human soul, and its existence separate from the human body.

The genes (obviously - grin). Dogs certainly have personalities - minds - and I guess that super intelligent dogs would have more complex ones.

And on and on and on

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