There's nothing baseball fans love more than one of those stories – and these things really do happen from time to time – about the rookie who steps up to plate for his first time ever in the majors, only to knock the cover off the ball. For book lovers, David Wroblewski and his "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" would be the literary equivalent.
The only trouble readers seem to be having with the book (Wroblewski's first) is finding enough good things to say about it. Stephen King says he "flat-out loved" it. Richard Russo doubts that "we will see a finer literary debut this year."
In Publisher's Weekly's Galley Talk, "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" has been proclaimed "a class apart," while Library Journal "overwhelmingly recommends" it for all libraries.
In Wroblewski's audio interview with Monitor critic Yvonne Zipp he tells us a bit about the origins of this story of a boy and a dog in rural Wisconsin. Wroblewski's parents raised dogs (as do Edgar's family) and Wroblewski grew up in rural Wisconsin. But the dog, he says, was inspired by the dog he now lives with – a dog he describes as exceptional, even in the context of a lifetime spent with wonderful dogs.
Wroblewski also talks a bit about literary influences on his book, including Shakespeare and Rudyard Kipling. But ultimately, he suggests, a writer might not want to ask too many questions about where a good story comes from – better perhaps just to accept it gratefully.
As readers, we might be wise to do the same.