Book Review ~ The Art Of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein

Summary ~ “Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and 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 successful navigate all of life’s ordeals.”

I have to stop reading books that make me cry.  The Art of Racing In The Rain was an amazing book that has brought my relationship with my dog, Rocky, to a new level.  I think he knew what I was reading about over the last few days because he has been even more affectionate and loving towards me.  This book is such a cozy, wonderful, infuriating, and heart warming story, I didn’t want it to end but I couldn’t make myself read any slower because I had to know what would happen.

In the beginning we meet Enzo, the wonderful dog/narrator at the heart of this book.  He shares the story of his life with us and the events, big and small, that filled his days.  This book holds the story of a family, happy at times and wrecked at others, but never giving up on the love and hope that they have for each other.  Denny Swift is Enzo’s Master and he is a great guy.  An up-and-coming race car driver who loves to watch tapes of his races on the T.V. with Enzo and speak to him like he’s just one of the guys.  A guy’s guy who loves his family and will do anything in his power to make things safe, happy and wonderful for them.  Tragedy of course strikes this ideal family but not without humor told from the point of view of the family dog.

At times I wanted to put this book in the freezer like Joey on Friends did while reading both The Shining and Little Women.  Not because I was scared but because I was mad and needed a cooling off period from the story and the people in Enzo’s life. 

Enzo’s retelling of his life as a member of the Swift family was a joy to read.  Though twists and turns in the lives of his family made for sad reading at times, the fact that everything effected Enzo in similar ways was amazing.  Dogs are extremely perceptive and though this is a work of fiction, I believe that Stein must have quite a dog (Comet is her name) in his own life to draw inspiration from.

On a personal note, one of my favorite bands is Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians and one of my favorite songs by them is “What I Am.”  The lyric that comes to mind here is:

I’m not aware of too many things
I know what I know, if you know what I mean
Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box
Religion is the smile on a dog
I’m not aware of too many things
I know what I know, if you know what I mean, d-doo yeah

 {Rating ~ 4.5 out of 5}

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7 thoughts on “Book Review ~ The Art Of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein

  1. Hi Karen,

    I wonder if you might be interested in another original work of fiction, also narrated by a sentient labrador. (This labrador, Randolph, has rather high-brow tastes, preferring Dante to television.)

    A DOG AMONG DIPLOMATS (April 2008) is the second book in a quirky mystery series by J.F. Englert. The first book, A DOG ABOUT TOWN was published in May 2007, and the third book, A DOG AT SEA, is scheduled for publication in April/May of 2009.

    I would have emailed you instead of posting a comment but didn’t see an email address on your site.

    An overview of the books and excerpts from reviews already in are below. I’d be happy to send you review copies of either or both books if you’re interested!

    Best,
    Eleanor
    adogabouttown@gmail.com

    BULL MOOSE DOG RUN MYSTERY SERIES – A Dog About Town, A Dog Among Diplomats

    In writing this fanciful mystery series, Englert adopts the daring and original conceit of employing a first-person narration by a labrador-cum-detective, Randolph. The first book in the series, A Dog About Town, was recognized with the 2007 fiction award from The Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA).

    Unbeknownst to his owners, Randolph (a black lab) is both sentient and literate–even well-read, spending much of the time that he has to himself at their Upper West Side apartment immersed in books. A year before the first novel opens, Randolph’s mistress Imogen disappears without a trace, leaving behind a broken-hearted and mystified boyfriend and dog.

    In A DOG ABOUT TOWN, the object of Randolph’s ability to read and to reason turns from private past time to undercover detective work as he gently prods his less-enlightened owner, Harry, toward the answers behind a suspicious death–which also holds clues to Imogen’s disappearance. Combining his powers of reasoning with his superior sense of smell (100,000 more powerful than that of humans), he is able to literally sniff out the trail, as well as the guilty parties.

    In A DOG AMONG DIPLOMATS, Randolph dedicates himself to a second murder case—this time one with ties to the U.N. and in which Imogen is implicated as a possible suspect.

    Advance praise for A DOG AMONG DIPLOMATS
    Englert’s droll mix of mystery, philosophical musing about man and beast, political doings at the U.N. and the mysteries of love make this an elegant, funny and inspiring romp in the park. – Publishers Weekly

    LibraryThing members on A DOG AMONG DIPLOMATS
    “This book reminded me of two things, both very disconnected: the old-time movie serials where the heroine is always left in utmost peril until the next sequence and P.G. Wodehouse.”

    “the writing is sharp and witty”

    “I couldn’t help but fall in love with Randolph.”

    “a marvelous study of character, especially the dog’s, and has some of the funniest writing I’ve ever read in the genre.”

    “Like Wodehouse, [Englert] often throws off phrases that you want to reread just for the sheer pleasure of it.”

  2. It was a great book…I am glad you enjoyed it and that Rocky gave you some extra TLC while you were reading it.

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