Man oh man. This is one of those novels that I was convinced I was going to like. Long (which I like), interestingish plot (mute boy, Shakespearan overtones), rave reviews as a page turner.
All I have to say is, WTF??
There are so many things wrong with this novel I don't know where to begin. So in no real particular order:
1. It is never really clear when it needs to be. Despite the fact we do get chapters from Claude's perspective, we never really find out what the heck is motivation is. We never find out the real story behind him and Gar, we have no real idea why he wanted to kill Gar, how he so easily kills Edgar. Does he love Trudy? Who the heck knows, we never find out anything of any substance. All we can really deduce is that he wanted what Gar had - the Sawtelle dogs back and the life he lead, but none of this really explains his actions or makes them understandable. I'd understand that some things would have to remain a mystery if the novel was told purely from Edgar's point of view, but it's NOT. There was no reason to leave everything so foggy, unclear and sloppily written, it doesn't benefit the novel or add to any characterisation.
2. Trudy. Again, same problem. Why does it take the *entire* length of this huge novel to even get to her reaction of Edgar's disappearance? Why not flash to Trudy during Edgar's run through the woods, instead of setting up an entirely new character (Henry) just to have him go nowhere, other than the adoption of two dogs! Oh and wait, we also get other useless passages of a ghost Edgar talks to while clearing out Henry's garage. Geezus.
3. Though some say they really 'felt' Edgar as a character, I really did not. I felt nothing for Edgar. What did we really know about him? Nothing. He was mute and introverted...
4. Most importantly, the novels has no real purpose. There is no meaning that ties the book together, that makes the journey worth it. A bad ending doesn't bother me....I could accept Edgar's death if it made any sense within the context of the novel. But it doesn't. There is just not enough structure to this novel - it is liking reading something through a thick fog, where you only really understand bits of it and at the end, there is nothing to find.
There are too many long and meandering passages, events that lead nowwhere, and underdeveloped characters.
Mr. Wroblewski answers about a million questions on this novel at the Oprah website and most of them are answers that should be in the novel itself.
Any goodness? The dogs are well developed, the passages from Almondine's point of view are written very nicely. The novel itself has a reasonably well developed 'feel'....and some of the prose is beautiful to read.
The problem here is plot and character......which unfortunately, Mr. Wroblewski, we NEED to be developed in a novel!