The Story of Edgar Sawtelle Webcast Transcript
Oprah: Did you have another question? Because the other day you said you had so many questions.
Ann: Oh, I have so many questions. Well, I was quite—I was most impressed with your understanding of dog behavior. A lot of books I read, I'm a dog nut and I think I know—I love to read about dog training and behavior and theories and I was really impressed that—because often people write books about dogs and I don't get a sense they really understand dogs, and I was really impressed with your understanding of the way a dog's mind works. I felt early on when you wrote from Almondine's point of view that you must have read quite a bit of Jack London growing up because that reminded me a little bit of—of his work. And I just—I felt like I—I felt like I knew you. I got the sense you were an only child when I read this because, again, the triangulation between the parents and him not knowing about their background and him feeling a little isolated, not part of the—are you an only child?
David: I'm not. I'm the youngest of three. I have an older sister, Bobbi, and an older brother, Daniel.
Oprah: Ann, thanks. Give our best to Denis.
Ann: I will.
Oprah: Tell him that was wild fun. Thank you so much. And Daphne, my God, what can we say?
David: Daphne's a star.
Oprah: Daphne, I mean, arms wide open, legs wide open. There she is. Gosh, you're going to love that photo later. Skyping in from Canton, Michigan, is the Book Ends Book Club. Hi, ladies.
Oprah: Hi there. What's your question for David?
Book Ends Book Club Member: Okay. My first question, or my question is, what prompted Trudy to start a relationship with Claude?
David: That's one of the central mysteries of the book, isn't it?
Oprah: Because don't we all think she should have known better?
Oprah: Yes, my goodness. Good gosh.
David: Well, this is something that I—I delayed trying to reveal in the book for as long as possible because I wanted in the center of the book when it's actually happening during the courtship chapter and so on, I wanted—I wanted it to seem as inexplicable for readers as it should seem for Edgar. In fact, that was one of the guiding principles about the first half or two-thirds of the book was that I didn't want the readers to know more than Edgar. I wanted everyone to be in the same position. What is going on with Trudy? Why—what is going on with Claude? Do we really trust him? Do we not? He's a little bit charismatic, he's a little interesting, but are our suspicions right or not? And not have any evidence. So it isn't until tend of the book that Trudy talks about this in one of her—I think of them as soliloquy chapters. One of the chapters where she's thinking back on things. And at least for me, and I think everybody gets to interpret this myself, I should say that, or themselves, I should say that I don't feel like the author has the final word always on things like this.
Oprah: Okay, but—
David: But at least for me, it—she is looking pretty desperately for a way to recapture Gar. And her—again, I mentioned earlier about haunting.
David: I think that Trudy is haunted by Gar in not literally the way Edgar is, but she's haunted by her memory of Gar. And when she looks at Claude, she sees a little bit of Gar. It's a way to access Gar. It's a way to know Gar in a way that she never knew Gar before because Claude knew Gar and so she can ask him questions and so on. And so it's a—it's a bad bargain, but it's a bargain that she's making. "I can have a little more of Gar if I'll have a little bit of Claude."
Oprah: Oh, good question. Good question, lady. Anybody else with another question?
Book Ends Book Club Member 2: I have one.
Book Ends Book Club Member 2: Did Trudy, did she believe that Claude was guilty in the deaths of both Gar and Edgar in the end? Or did she really believe that Claude died trying to save Edgar?
David: Okay. So now you're asking about what she believes at the very end of the book, right?
Book Ends Book Club Member 2: Yes.
David: I think that—and, again, this is open to interpretation and meant to be, but I think that what's—at the very end of the book, Trudy has essentially been sort of wiped clean emotionally. And it's not clear to me what she knows entirely. What is clear to me is that she has been—circumstances have forced her to look back and see the mistakes that she's made and how it's led up to that moment. So I believe that she understands—she understands about Gar and Claude—and I believe that she understands about Edgar. But the book doesn't commit. If you understand the distinction I'm trying to make. And I—I think it's entirely possible that she may not understand that yet. But I—you know, Trudy's—
Oprah: My feeling was that she didn't understand. My feeling was that she was still—she was opening up to see, "Wow, what have I been missing? What are all the clues that I've missed?"
Oprah: But I didn't feel in the end that she really still got it. I think in the end of the book, my interpretation, was that she thinks that Claude went in to save Edgar in the end.
David: And I think that's a reasonable interpretation. This is one of those points where I wanted—again, I wanted readers to be able to supply some level of interpretation and not just nail it down finally one way or another.
Oprah: So I'm sure you all disagreed in the club, right? In the book club?
Oprah: Did you all know how Almondine died? Thanks, everybody. Did you all—let me just ask this group, the Book Enders. You all know—I read it and I was reading with my friend, Kate Forte, and she—you know, I finished the book and the next day when she finished the book she was, like, weeping, sobbing, sobbing, you know, about how Almondine had died. I didn't get how Almondine had died. How do you all think Almondine died?
All: I didn't get it either.
Book Ends Book Club Member 3: Natural causes maybe?