The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.


I finished The Story of Edgar Sawtelle this weekend. On Sunday I relaxed for the better part of the morning prone and closed to the world reading my book. The writing kept me captivated and it wasn’t a challenge to just read for 4+ hours straight.

Repeat warning: Spoilers.

I really disliked the ending. When I told my mother that I had finished the book she said

Mom D: “Oh, right. That’s an Oprah book club book right?”
Mike D: “I think so, have you read it?”
Mom D: “I haven’t. Was it depressing? All Oprah books seem to be depressing.”

And yes. It was depressing. It ended in a giant pile of sadness. I really dislike disheartening books. I mean, it’s fiction. Why create a book that provides a path of misery for your reader? Some people might enjoy a good gloomy book. Perhaps it leads them towards a better understanding of life’s unfairness. Perhaps those cynics readers find it a more realistic story. But not me. For me, the best thing about a sad book is that it boosts my joy for those books that end with justice and a happy couple walking into the sunset.

Are there any people out there who prefer a depressing ending to one that is happy in its conclusion? I wonder if there’s some metric that could help define which sells better: the joyous finale, or the dismal one.

Out of curiosity, now I want to check to see what percentage of Oprah book club books are actually depressing.

4 thoughts on “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

  • 9/8/2009 at 10:02 am

    I prefer more complicated endings – I think an easy ending for ES would have been a cop out, you know?

  • 9/8/2009 at 10:26 am

    Yes, and I agree that any perfectly convenient ending for ES would have definitely. But oh man it still pained my heart.

    Interestingly, Tony E pointed out that Edgar Sawtelle somewhat follows the storyline of Hamlet. I feel dumb that I didn’t notice this, but it’s true.

    This realization causes my respect for the book to dip.
    Enough Shakespeare mods already!

  • 9/8/2009 at 11:19 pm

    What? It causes my respect to rise – Shakespeare storylines are archetypal — they are the storylines of humanity!

  • 9/11/2009 at 12:33 pm

    Yeah, like the plot to Strange Brew!!


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