Check It Out Category: Fiction

We’ve Got You Covered: Rain Boot Fiction

Have April showers whetted your appetite for books with rain boots on the cover?
Pull on your wellies and choose a new springtime read from this quirky group:

Belong to Me book coverBelong to Me
Marisa de los Santos
My Best Friend's Girl book cover

 

Everyone She Loved book coverEveryone She Loved
Sheila Curran

Out of the Rain book coverOut of the Rain
Debbie Macomber

Racing Savannah book coverRacing Savannah
Miranda Kenneally

 

Nowhere Carolina book coverNowhere Carolina
Tamara Leigh
Second Sister book cover
 The Second Sister
Marie Bostwick

Book Discussion Questions: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Story of Edgar Sawtelle book coverTitle:  The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
Author:  David Wroblewski
Page Count: 566 pages
Genre: Literary, Coming-of-Age, Domestic Saga
Tone:  Atmospheric, Lyrical, Haunting

Summary:
Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar leads an idyllic life with his parents on their dog breeding farm in remote Wisconsin. When Edgar is forced to flee after the sudden death of his father, he must fight for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him.

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

Questions composed by MPPL Staff

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement:  2016 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. Would you consider this a sad book? Did you enjoy the experience of reading this book?

2. When asked why he chose an unhappy ending, the author responded by referencing Franz Kafka:

I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? … we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.

What do you think about this perspective? Does it resonate with you – either with this book or with others?

3. The selection of this title as an Oprah’s Book Club pick certainly raised its profile. In your opinion, would this book have found an audience otherwise?

4. What was the purpose of the prologue?

5. Why was Schultz (the original landowner) given both backstory and recurring mentions?

6. How did you react to the character of Ida Paine?

7. Edgar’s youth is presented in a quick succession of snapshot details. Why spend little time here?

8. How would you characterize Edgar’s relationship with each of his parents?

9. How early do you think Claude had been plotting?

10. A frequent complaint is the length of the story. Did that bother you? Why would the author make that choice? What might be lost in cutting the story down? In your opinion, are there too many ideas for one book?

11. One seeming digression from the main plot is Edgar’s discovery of (and the detailed presenting of) the letters form Fortunate Fields. What did these letters reveal? Do you think this was an effective way to introduce this background and these ideas?

12. Did you note the epigraph by Charles Darwin? How might this, as well as the exploration of evolution and natural selection, inform the greater story?

13 “So a dog’s value came from the training and the breeding” – almost a nature vs. nurture compromise. How might this be reflected in the brothers Claude and Gar?

14. On specific occasions, the author emphasizes the word story. For example, as Edgar is reflecting on the detailed records, “Because the files, with their photographs, measurements…told them the STORY of the dog – what a dog MEANT, as his father put it.” How does this reflect back on the title of the book?

15. There’s no getting around the Hamlet references. Were there ones that you especially liked or found inventive or powerful? Any that were stretches? Any that you weren’t sure about?

16. Aside from the allusions, the story of Hamlet is never directly mentioned. In contrast, another book is frequently mentioned and even excerpted. What relevance does The Jungle Book have to this story?

17. Were you OK with the slight fantasy element of Gar’s appearances/interactions with Edgar?

18. What was the purpose of the story of Hachiko?

19. What is gained by Trudy’s voice being introduced half-way through? Did this make her more sympathetic? Would you have preferred this earlier? Not at all?

20. How would you describe the importance of Almondine? Did you like having her “voice”?

21. What is the role of Forte – both the first and the second? Do you think the first Forte was Gar’s dog or Claude’s?

22. What is accomplished in making Edgar mute? Why not deaf, too?

23. Why are words and names especially important to Edgar?

24. What did you think of Edgar’s time with Henry Lamb? In what ways is it significant?

25. Is this a book for dog lovers? How would you compare it to other books which feature dogs, especially those which give voice to the dog’s perspective?

26. Author Stephen King wrote, “I flat-out loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. In the end, this isn’t a novel about dogs or heartland America, it’s a novel about the human heart and the mysteries that live there, understood but impossible to articulate…. I don’t re-read many books because life is too short. I will be re-reading this one.” What do you think? Will you be re-reading this book?

Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!

OTHER RESOURCES:

Author David Wroblewski on the book that made him a reader
The New York Times interview with author
profile of Wroblewski in Bloom, a site featuring first books from authors over 40
video of Wroblewski presenting at The Chautauqua Institution
NPR podcast The Book Tour spotlights The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
LitLovers discussion guide
Oprah’s reader’s guide, including book club webcasts

READALIKES:

Art of Racing in the Rain book coverAquarium book coverDead Fathers Club book cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Racing in the Rain  by Garth Stein
Aquarium  by David Vann
The Dead Fathers Club  by Matt Haig

Asked at the Desk: I Read Devil in the White City by Erik Larson… Now What?

Picture of Fiction/AV/Teen deskA question we’ve received recently:

I read Devil in the White City by Erik Larson and loved it. I want to read something similar, but I want it to be fiction, rather than non-fiction.

In a similar place? Good news! We had suggestions for this patron, and we are here to share them:

Picture of Devil in the White City, The Gods of Goth, and I, Ripper

If you liked the history of an American city intertwining with a murder mystery, try The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye. Set in New York during the 19th century, Timothy Wilde investigates the death of a 12-year-old as a new member of the newly formed New York police force in this twisty first of a series.

However, if you liked the multiple perspectives as a detective investigates serial murders, try I, Ripper by Stephen Hunter. Hunter does not hold back in this gritty horrific suspense, as readers get taken to 19th century London during the Whitechapel murders, attributed to Jack the Ripper and even get into the horrific mind of the serial killer.

Want more readalikes? Or maybe you liked something different about Devil in the White City that we didn’t touch on? Ask for more suggestions online or stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen desk on the second floor!

Books: Will You Be Our Galentine?

Galentine's Day displayBefore you are swept away by the romance of Valentine’s Day, take a cue from Leslie Knope of Parks & Recreation and honor the female friendships in your life.  That’s right!  February 13 is Galentine’s Day, a day for ladies to celebrate ladies.  Need a little inspiration?  Try one of these:

Wildwater Walking Club book coverThe Wildwater Walking Club
by Claire Cook

Noreen, Tess, and Rosie walk and talk their way through life’s ups and downs in their town of Wildwater. As they tally their steps and share their secrets, life begins to take them in some new and surprising directions.

Sushi for Beginners book coverSushi for Beginners
by Marian Keyes

Depicts the lives of three women in the fashion trade, exploring the trials and tribulations as well as the happiness and joy of true friends in the fast-paced worlds of love and career.

Annie Freemans Fabulous Traveling Funeral book coverAnnie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral
by Kris Radish

An unexpected bequest from a late friend takes five women on a wild and life-transforming road trip from the deserts of New Mexico to the shores of Lake Superior, as they celebrate the bonds of female friendship.

Circle of Friends book coverCircle of Friends
by Maeve Binchy

Two friends who grew up together in a small Irish village attend college in Dublin, where their lives become intertwined with the beautiful Nan Mahon and Jack Foley, the handsome son of a doctor.

Cover of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CafeFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
by Fannie Flagg

Mrs. Threadgoode’s tale of two high-spirited women of the 1930s, Idgie and Ruth, helps Evelyn, a 1980s woman in a sad slump of middle age, to begin to rejuvenate her own life.

Shoe Addicts Anonymous book cover

Shoe Addicts Anonymous
by Beth Harbison

Four different women  meet Tuesday nights to trade shoes and, in the process, form friendships that will help them each triumph over their problems.

 

 

This is only a sample of the gal pals on offer at the Library. Ask online or stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen desk on the second floor and we will connect you with something to fit your mood!