Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein

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.

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny's wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, ZoË, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with ZoË at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.


  1. OK,first an apology for not posting the last couple of months. I had already read the selections, didn't want to reread, and didn't feel fresh enough to post. However, I will draw upon my memory of this book. First of all, when I read it I was not a dog owner. I found it sad, but liked the dog perspective. I'm sure if I reread it now that I own a dog it would be a different read. I was left with the feeling that life is not fair, but you do the best you can.

  2. I avoided writing a comment, since it seemed fewer and fewer were writing them, and my opinion of this book was a bit more personal than the others. Nicole has broken the ice, so I will plug ahead...

    I read this book about a year ago having borrowed it from Mom. I really liked it, especially the seemingly insightful way the author writes from the dog's point of view, his love of television, his religious belief he would return as a human, and all. I am not much of a racing fan, but the metaphor for what was going on in this family's life was striking.

    While liking the book, I cannot say I enjoyed reading it, however. I tend to be particularly sensitive to injustices, and the behavior of the grandparents, and to some extent the wife before she passed, were repugnant. I read with increasing frustration as the wife never stood up to her parents about the father, which left him open to the horrors that her selfish parents unleashed after she was out of the way, using the niece (another selfish brat) as a convenient excuse.

    The author played the situation correctly, though, and was patient. He used the skills of patience and perseverance learned while racing to slowly achieve vindication and get his daughter back. I doubt that I would have been able to do that. I certainly would not have been able to forgive the grandparents afterward. There were too many years lost.

    So while I enjoyed the book, it made me angry. However, its lesson of perseverance and patience is something I should strive to master.