24+ quotes from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Quotes from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

David Wroblewski ·  566 pages

Rating: (81.5K votes)


“You swam in a river of chance and coincidence. You clung to the happiest accidents—the rest you let float by.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“Life was a swarm of accidents waiting in the treetops, descending upon any living thing that passed, ready to eat them alive. You swam in a river of chance and coincidence. You clung to the happiest accidents- the rest you let float by.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“Edgar, there's a difference between missing him and wanting nothing to change," she said. "They aren't the same things at all. And we can't do anything about either one. Things always change. Things would be changing right now if your father were alive, Edgar. That's just life. You can fight it or you accept it. The only difference is, if you accept it, you can get to do other things. If you fight it, you're stuck in the same spot forever. Does that make sense?"
But aren't some changes worth fighting?"
You know that's true."
So how do you know which is which?"
I don't know a way to tell for sure," she said. "You ask, 'Why am I really fighting this?' If the answer is 'Because I'm scared of what things will be like,' then, most times, you're fighting for the wrong reason."
And if that's not the answer?"
Then you dig in your heels and you fight and fight and fight. But you have to be absolutely sure you can handle a different kind of change, because in the end, things will change anyway, just not that way. In fact, if you get into a fight like that, it pretty much guarantees things are going to change.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“She had learned, in her life, that time lived inside you. You are time, you breathe time. When she'd been young, she'd had an insatiable hunger for more of it, though she hadn't understood why. Now she held inside her a cacophony of times and lately it drowned out the world. The apple tree was still nice to lie near. They peony, for its scent, also fine. When she walked through the woods (infrequently now) she picked her way along the path, making way for the boy inside to run along before her. It could be hard to choose the time outside over the time within.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“That was how it was, sometimes. You put yourself in front of the thing and waited for whatever was going to happen and that was all. It scared you and it didn't matter. You stood and faced it. There was no outwitting anything. When Almondine had been playful, she had been playful in the face of that knowledge, as defiant as before the rabid thing. Sometimes you looked the thing in the eye and it turned away. Sometimes it didn't.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“You put yourself in front of the thing and waited for whatever was going to happen and that was all. It scared you and it didn't matter. You stood and faced it. There was no outwitting anything...it was not a morbid thought, just the world as it existed. Sometimes you looked the thing in the eye and it turned away. Sometimes it didn't.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“Nothing is going to happen to me, or you, for that matter.
Anything can happen, though.
Anything can happen. But most always, just normal things happen, and people have happy lives.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“Edgar, do you actually think that how long a person grieves is a measure of how much they loved someone? There's no rule book that says how to do this." She laughed, bitterly. "Wouldn't that be great? No decisions to make. Everything laid right out for us. But there's no such thing. You want facts, don't you? Rules. Proof. You're like your father that way. Just because a thing can't be logged, charted, and summarized doesn't mean it isn't real. Half the time we walk around in love with the idea of a thing instead of the reality of it. But sometimes things don't turn out that way. You have to pay attentin to what's real, what's in the world. Not some imaginary alternative, as if it's a choice we could make.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“ It is as true for the writer as for the reader that any novel worth its ink should be an experience first and foremost—not an essay, not a statement, not an orderly rollout of themes and propositions. All of which is to say: stories, too, are wild things. ”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“That mirror, that's one I hate to let go, he said. That was my daughter's the whole time she was growing up. It probably seen her more than me--everything from a baby up to twenty years old. Sometimes I wonder if all that might still be inside it. Got to make an impression on a thing, reflecting the same person every day.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“...in that dilated moment after sunset when the sky holds all the light...”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“Anything can happen. But almost always, just normal things happen and people have happy lives.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“You couldn't change a river into a sea, but you could trace a new channel for it to follow.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“We'll know we've got it right when they choose for themselves," he used to say.
That doesn't make sense.
'That's what I thought too. I asked him what he meant, but he just shrugged. I don't think he knew himself. But I keep thinking maybe that stray is making exactly the kind of choice he talked about. We're talking about an adult dog, a dog that's been out in the woods for a long time, trying to decide whether or not we can be trusted. Whether this is his place. And it matters to him - he'd rather starve than make the wrong decision.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“When she walked through the woods (infrequently now) she picked her way along the path, making way for the boy inside to run along before her. It could be hard to choose the time outside over the time within.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“The strangest kind of curse had been laid upon him: knowledge without hope of evidence.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“A person could stop a specific thing, but they couldn’t stop change in general. Rivers can’t run backward. Yet, he felt there must be an alternative, neither willfulness nor resignation. He couldn’t put words to it. All he knew was, neither of them had changed their minds and neither of them could find anything more to say.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“In her life, she'd been nourished and sustained by certain things, him being one of them, Trudy another, and Edgar, the third and most important, but it was really the three of them together, intersecting in her, for each of them powered her heart in a different way.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“He had not opened his eyes in the moment. Her touch had released some tiny increment of the poison bound up in him that would, days to come, ripen into sorrow. And by the time he thought all this he could no longer tell if her caress had truly happened or whether he'd manufactured it out of necessity.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“No one can say if you are that person who, given good paint, good brushes, and a fine canvas, can produce something better than the factory man. That is, and has always been, beyond the realm of science. You do have the attitude of the dreamer about you. For that reason, I haven't the heart to argue anymore about this - it is a hopeless talk. And for a simple factory man like me, an effort must be abandoned once its hopelessness is exposed. Only the artist perseveres in such circumstances.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“If you didn't like it, why didn't you quit?"
To do what? Wasn't anything I knew better than farming. I was cursed, that was the problem. Just because I didn't like it didn't mean I wasn't good at it... It's a curse all right, you're just too young to know about that sort of thing. To be good at something you don't care about?”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“He woke one morning tantalized by an idea: if he could catch the orchard trees motionless for one second -- for half of one second -- then none of it would have happened. The kitchen door would bang open and in his father would walk, red-faced and slapping his hands and exclaiming about some newly whelped pup. Childish, Edgar knew, but he didn't care. The trick was to not focus on any single part of any tree, but to look through them all toward a point in the air. But how insidious a bargain he'd made. Even in the quietest moment some small thing quivered and the tableau was destroyed.

How many afternoons slipped away like that? How many midnights standing in the spare room, watching the trees shiver in the moonlight? Still he watched, transfixed. Then, blushing because it was futile and silly, he forced himself to walk away.

When he blinked, an afterimage of perfect stillness.

To think it might happen when he wasn't watching.

He turned back before he reached the door. Through the window glass, a dozen trees strummed by the winter wind, skeletons dancing pair-wise, fingers raised to heaven.

Stop it, he told himself. Just stop.

And watched some more.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“She needed to recover. His father had died in January; it was only the end of May. They needed to stick to the routine they'd established during the intervening months. in that way, their life would return to its original shape, like a spring stretched in bad times but contracting eventually into happiness. That the world could come permanently unsprung had never occurred to him.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


“It was one of the many rules in the kennel, rules that didn't always make sense, or even seem important, until some situation drew the lesson out.”
― David Wroblewski, quote from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


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About the author

David Wroblewski
Born place: The United States
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