The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Release date: 2008 / 336 pages
Summary: Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life’s ordeals.
First sentence: Gestures are all that I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature.
Review: You know how it is when you’ve been waiting and waiting on the library’s list and then the book finally arrives and you know it just can’t be as good as you’ve hoped? And then, once in a great while, it’s actually better than you expected?? Well, that was Racing in the Rain for me.
I loved this book… I think Enzo will be a great help to me soon, since we are facing a similar decision with our 17 year old dog and companion. I did not know that this novel was told from the perspective of a dog at the end of his life — fortunately, because I would not have chosen to endure this right now. However, an even greater tragedy than losing a dog is almost immediately introduced in the novel which distracted me from what I knew was an inevitable ending…
However, I just loved Enzo’s quiet wisdom and his frustration with his canine limitations. His “voice” was perfect and I flew through this novel very quickly. While at its heart, Rain is a human hero’s journey, Enzo is such a great reminder of why we love our furry best friends so.
I thought I would include this excerpt about Enzo’s challenge to include his owner’s new love since this passage illustrates Enzo’s voice, as well as his quiet wisdom and facility with metaphor:
I had always wanted to love Eve as Denny loved her, but I never had because I was afraid. She was my rain. She was my unpredictable element. She was my fear. But a racer should not be afraid of rain; a racer should embrace the rain. I, alone, could manifest a change in that which was around me. By changing my mood, my energy, I allowed Eve to regard me differently. And while I cannot say that I am a master of my own destiny, I can say that I have experienced a glimpse of mastery, and I know what I have to work around.
I know I’m a little late to come to this party, but if you haven’t yet read this lovely novel — are a dog-lover — and have a big box of kleenix handy, I strongly recommend The Art of Racing in the Rain…