Monday, January 11, 2010

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Spoilers (in summary).

The Art of Racing in the Rain
Author: Garth Stein
Year of Publication: 2008
Genre: Fiction, Sports/Animals
Pages: 321
First Line: "Gestures are all that I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature."

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.

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.

Internet Book List

Review: I got this book from the woman who does my electrolysis and, though it took me awhile to get through (I started it in the week before 2010, probably), it was interesting. The main plot didn't start for awhile and ended pretty abruptly. Enzo is a great character and gives a lot of insight both to the world of dogs and to that of humans. Stein's writing style is pretty interesting and based on it, he seems rather intelligent. This usually isn't a trait to come across in writing (though it doesn't mean that it's not true), so that made this book even more interesting. The plot itself is fairly original. It's definitely not what you probably expect--it wasn't what I (or the woman who does my electrolysis) thought, certainly. Worth a read if you're a lover of dogs, car racing/NASCAR, medical stories, legal stories or life in general.

Worst part: In retrospect, having gone back to the beginning of the book to check out the first line again, I found the end and the beginning aren't as well connected as they could be. A bit more foreshadowing might have been appropriate.

Best part: Enzo's voice is fantastic.

Grade: B+

Other Books by This Author: How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets and Raven Stole the Moon

3 / 50 books. 6% done!

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