In my life Literary Fiction has markedly contributed towards my empathetic level. Read, read, read good literature. Good reading choices create profound moments in your memory bank and enhance humanistic behavior.
Recommendation: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski
This is truly a great American novel. Edgar is a mute who lives in northern Wisconsin with his parents where they have bred a new breed of dog that embodies wisdom and companionship. Edgar has a mysterious bond with the Sawtelle dogs, he can see and hear and comprehend, but not speak. He and the dogs sign. This idyllic life is interrupted with the appearance of a malevolent uncle, evoking Hamlet, Cain and Abel and Homer’s Odyssey.
Stephen King once said “I flat-out loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle….wonderful, mysterious, and long and satisfying. I don’t re-read many books because life is too short, I will be rereading this one.”
I have just purchased a first edition, so that I always have this book in my library. This is probably my favorite book of the last 20 years. I plan to re-read this heart-wrenching novel this summer in Maine.
Peter Matthiessen (1927-2014)
A great writer, naturalist, activist, humanitarian, Zen Buddhist priest. He was born into privilege but when he was 15 he chose to have his name removed from the social register.
He was the only writer to win the National Book Award in both fiction and non-fiction categories. I specially loved “The Snow Leopard” and just ordered his last book “In Paradise” which came out on April 8th. (Will discuss in future column.)
P.S. personal past wish list: an adventure with Peter Matthiesen as group leader