Thursday, January 14, 2010

Edgar Sawtelle - Week 7, 8

For me, a lot of the tone of this book derives from a feeling that no matter what Edgar does, events are going to take their course. But actually that is backwards. DW is making sure that Edgar makes choices throughout his story, and the resulting occurences proceed in a logical fashion just like in the domino cliche.
In Outside Lute, Henry comments a couple of times that this "is definitely not an ordinary situation." (p. 377&381) The reason it feels that way to him is that he has made a decision in his own life to let Edgar and the dogs stay with him.In turn, Edgar must deal with Tinder's situation. He decides that Tinder's wound is too severe to travel, and for him to carry the first aid supplies. He seeks outside help, out of the ordinary for him. He even lifts Tinder himself out of the patch of sunflowers and walks back to Henry. Not to mention the break in routine. Ordinary is to keep travelling.
The fact that Henry is getting accustomed to the dogs, although awkwardly, is new to him. He pats them and handles them in odd ways, but he does reach out to them, brings them bones. And it is he who verbalizes the ordinary/extraordinary observations.
There is a passage descrbing a classic cause and effect scenario, when Edgar reaizes he has not trained the dogs for three days, and returns to the routine of proofing commands. (Been there, done that!) But this occurs often enough to be a motif in the novel.
I feel that DW has been almost mathematical in laying this out. Another example is that Edgar feels guilty for stealing, and this is why he also feels he must stay and clean the shed. Action, reaction.At the same time, cleaning the shed is out of the ordinary - both the ghostly previous owner and evidently Henry too have put off this chore.I think Edgar himself has commented on this. In earlier chapters, he says over and over, "Why did I do that?" He knows on some level that he did not cause his father's death, but also that one thing has led to another inevitably.
Even the music. Probably no more complex pattern than the Bach that Henry listens to - but I think hyper-predictable if you are knowledgeable about that sort of thing (which I am not).Even the extraordinary will become part of an inevitable pattern, I think. I am looking forward to finding out if my predictions come true, but also dreading the tragic future that seems to be Edgar's lot.
On different topic, I want to post in another online community (the YAlitchat Ning) today about whether or not ES is a crossover novel. Is it really Young Adult literature, because Edgar is an adolescent? Is it like Miriam Teows' A Complicated Kindness which is now shelved both with adult books and teen books at the library and bookstores? I would say yes, myself.

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