David: Um, Henry—I said there are certain characters—I don't—I didn't have the experience of characters taking over—

Oprah: Yes.

David: —with a couple of exceptions.

Oprah: Henry.

David: Henry was absolutely one of them.

Oprah: Yeah.

David: When I wrote Part 4—

Oprah: He sure is ordinary.

David: I'm really fond of Henry. When I wrote Part 4 knew only that he—that Edgar was going to step over that creek, go into the woods, lean something about the world, and at the end of Part 4, he was going to step back over the creek, having placed the dogs somehow and learn whatever he was going to learn. But I didn't know Henry was there.

Oprah: You knew the dogs were going to stay with Henry?

David: I knew the dogs—I knew that part of what Edgar's job was in the world was to place those dogs.

Oprah: To place those dogs.

David: To answer for himself, "What is the value of the Sawtelle dogs and where do they belong?" So, ultimately, I think of Henry as a good man, you know, Edgar gets to go out and meet a good—a really fine human being. Ironically, that person feels kind of existentially cursed. He doesn't—he thinks that he's ordinary. And Edgar and I, obviously, don't think he's ordinarily.

Oprah: Not ordinary at all.

David: He can't see it yet. He can't see it yet.

Oprah: Where did you come up with that ordinary line?

David: That comes from being a Midwesterner.

Oprah: Really.

David: I think growing up in the Midwest—

Oprah: When he opens the door and sees him for the first time and there's that—again, the foreshadowing. Yeah, this sure isn't ordinary.

David: Yeah. And I think that, you know, one of the experiences of growing up in the Midwest is that you—you feel about it—it's a—it's a wonderful place. I love where I grew up. But it took me some time to look back on it and see it as a very distinct place. The people don't have strong, unusual accents. They're not known for a particular character quality, I don't think. And so when I was young, I couldn't wait to leave for a lot of reasons.

Oprah: Because you thought you were ordinary?

David: Because I thought—I thought this place is no real place, you know.

Oprah: Yeah.

David: Other places, they have a coast or they—you know.

Oprah: Yeah.

David: They have, you know, this unusual history. It's not the South with its sort of long legacy. So—

Oprah: It's Wisconsin.

David: It's Wisconsin.

Oprah: Yeah.  

David: Everybody's reasonable, and they see the middle of the road and so on. So it wasn't until I had sort of grown up and moved away and I was in my 30s and I looked back and I looked at that place and I said, "Wait a second." These people—this place has real character and these people have real character, but it's subtle and it's interesting, and I was very proud, suddenly, of coming from that place. And I wanted Henry—once I met Henry, he became for me this sort of embodiment of all the people that I knew where I came from.

Oprah: Mm-hmm. Good. Solid.

David: Good. Solid. Charming. Self-effacing, etc. So...

Oprah: Well, we're almost out of time. I want to thank all of you for joining us here in the book club. And those of you who read and read a long time ago and kept saying, "When are we going to have David on?" David, thank you so much.

David: Oh, it was my pleasure. Thank you.

Oprah: For being here. If you want to watch this book discussion again or tell a friend who missed it, our webcast will be available on demand tomorrow for free here at You'll also be able to download the podcast tomorrow at and on iTunes. Tonight's conversation continues right after this webcast. If you are an Oprah Radio subscriber, you can tune in to XM 156 and Sirius 195 for our live radio show. David's going to be there, so keep your calls coming. Same number, 866-OPRAH-XM. 866-677-2496. Thank you so much, really.

David: Thank you.

Oprah: I think it's been wonderful for all of us to be able to really just have a little bit insight into what the process—and those of us who loved it, you know, really loved it, now have even a deeper appreciation for the process that created The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

David: Thank you. Thanks.

Oprah: Thank you. Thanks, everybody. Here's to books. Hey, here's to books. Here's to books.

David: Yeah.

Oprah: Yeah. Here's to books.

David: Thank you.

Oprah: Bye, everybody. Good night.


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