The Art of Racing in the Rain Author: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 t... more »he 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, Zoe, 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 Zoe 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.« less
I am a sucker for dogs, and especially books where we have some insight into what a dog thinks, and this book is that and more. The narrator is Enzo, the most loyal and wonderful dog, and the book deals with his devotion to his owner, Denny. Denny is a race car driver who not only has perfected the "Art of Racing in the Rain" but also has shown how that ability is also a life philosophy. It's a beautiful, touching book that I recommend.
I read this book in two sittings, and it is now one of my favorite fiction books. The narrator is a dog who who hopes to one day become a man, despite bearing witness to the cruelties that people can inflict on one another. He realizes and shows the reader through the story he tells that although things can look hopeless love, determination, and loyalty can often set things right.
Clearly this book will appeal to dog lovers, but hopefully this book will find wider appeal. This book would also appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult because of a controversial subplot. Men will appreciate the descriptions of car races and references to famous drivers. This book will take you through emotional highs and lows. Any lover of engrossing fiction should be as happy to go along for the ride that Garth Stein offers as would the canine narrator Enzo in his master's race car.
I hate to be the lone dissenter, but here goes. I love dogs. I love books about dogs. Did not enjoy this book at all. It is emotionally manipulative; plot lines are contrived and not believable (and I'm not talking about the suspension of disbelief at the end...I was actually ok with that piece). There was just not one thing in this book that rang true for me. I'm ok with sad books. But there's a difference between poignant and heartwrenching. It is possible to write a book that is very moving without being maudlin or manipulative. This author didn't hit that note for me.
That being said, there was a kernal of a good story here to be told. The author needed a good story editor (or perhaps he needed to stop listening to a bad story editor). It could have been told in a way that was much more believable and certainly more subtle. Also, I could have lived without the car-racing minutiae. While I'm not a fan, I can read about and appreciate things I don't generally find interesting if it is presented in an engaging way. This was not. It was like a friend who becomes obsessed with something and proceeds to bore you by talking about nothing but the "thing".
In closing, if you love car-racing, and you're a fan of books that drag your heart through the mud by any means readily available, you may enjoy it. Many did.
This was such a great book. Not only was it a fun, heartwarming, and engaging read, but it had such a unique perspective. After reading it (in about a week), I really look at my dog differently, wondering what she's thinking . . .
I am sided on how I feel about this book. Part of me liked it while another part of me was a bit disappointed. I didn't like the ending which I found to be very abrupt. There were a few places in the book that I found humorous, but the overall story line was a little boring to follow. I don't really care for racing, so maybe that was my problem with this book. There were many mentions of races and explanations of racing, so I just had to skim over those pages. The racing aspect does blend in with the story line, but maybe that was my overall issue with the book. Perhaps if I was a race car fan, I would have liked it more. I give it 3.5 stars, but that is almost being generous. However, I'm glad I read it & it was a quick read.
The Art of Racing in the Rain caught my eye initially through a newsletter or recommendation on PaperbackSwap.com. The story is told by Enzo, the faithful and loving, but very old, dog of a semi-professional race car driver. Like I said Enzo is old and is very close to dying, but this is okay to him as he fully believes that a dogs next step in the living cycle is to come back as a man, and Enzo desperately longs for thumbs. He is convinced of this return to the world as a human from documentaries that he watches through the day when his master is at work.
So Enzo narrates the story of his masters life, Denny, that he has had the privilege to experience. It is a gut-wrenching story of Dennys wife getting sick and ultimately dying, of Denny having his only daughter stripped from him by his (possibly well-meaning, but very manipulative) parents-in-law. The fight to recapture and rebuild what he can of his family, all while juggling work and his other love, racing. Intermixed though the story are tales of racing, Denny and Enzos many hours spent watch racing videos (both of Denny and of professional races), Dennys wisdom in racing situations and how that same wisdom can translate into real-life situations so easily and appropriately.
This book really hooked me in with so many connections. The love of dogs, as a father of kids about the same age as Zoë, Dennys daughter, and the racing wisdom really spoke to an inner me. I have raced cars, and while a back condition has kept me from the track for several years now, I still hold on to the possibility that I can climb back into my Formula Ford soon. Garth Steins ability to take these track sayings, sayings that I used to hear or even use, and cast them over life itself was remarkable. I feel that I learned about myself, how my mind operates, through the experiences, example, and thoughts of Denny. For an author, that I am presuming does not have racing experience, to weave that world into the book in a way that I learn about myselfgifted writing.
Sayings like No race has even been won in the first corner but plenty of races have been lost there. Showing how being aggressive, launching hard (even showing off) early, or being so wrapped up in the excitement of the start of the event, can yield disastrous results, especially in an endurance race. Or Your car goes where your eyes go. A truism that is translated to life several times by both Enzo and Denny as, That which we manifest is before us. Even talking about the selfishness of a racer and then seeing those same examples in me. These are connections that the non-racer may not be as impacted by, and as such, may not have the same love and respect of this story as I have. I would be interested in others thoughts as they read these in the book and if you experience similar understanding or impact.
The other reason that I like this book so much was how Garth Stein was able to take a situation like a dog dying (served up to us on page 2), and then get the reader so wrapped up in the story that when Enzo does actually die, it feels shocking! It is a tear-jerker that you forget about as you are reading and when it does finally happen, the author is still able to draw out that much emotion from the reader.
When I was reading this book, I immediately wanted to give it to my father. He had done some racing of various kinds in the past (and with me), and I thought that he would connect in a similar way as I did. He is also a serious dog-lover, and I thought that the connection to Enzo would be strong. As I was finishing the book though, one of his dogs died, and suddenly. I debated actually giving it to him, torn between the thought of pouring orange juice on an open wound or could the book offering some healing and happiness to the situation, as you really end up loving Enzo and I felt that Enzo was going to get what he believed was coming to him.
In the end, I did give him the book, but it took almost a year for him to start on it. Once he did, he was hooked in the same way I was. Ultimately, while hard with his own dog's passing, he did say that is was beneficial and wished that he had started on it earlier.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein was recommended to me by a very good friend and is nothing at all like the books I normally read. For starters, the narrator of the book is a dog named Enzo and the story is told entirely from his perspective. Its given me a whole new insight on animals and what they are really thinking and how they feel and the fact that they understand so much more than we give them credit for.
The story begins on the eve of Enzos death. Hes an old dog, you see, and as we all have done and will do, hes reflecting back on his life with his master, Denny, a race car driver and his family. Enzos view of the world is very funny and thought provoking. Enzo shares with us his love of television and watching car races as well as a documentary that people in Mongolia believe when a dog passes from this life, he will be reincarnated as a human. Enzo is very clear that his ultimate dream is to come back as a man, find Denny and shake his hand.
Through Enzos eyes, we are introduced to Dennys future wife, Eve and meet their daughter Zoe. With Enzos help, I learned more about racing cars than I ever did. Most importantly, we learn from Enzo exactly how loyal a dog is to his pack master and the love he feels for his entire pack. When Denny faces the ultimate adversity, we see it through Enzos eyes and feel his helplessness that he cant fix it. You cant help but love Enzo. While reading this book, I wished he were with me several times so I could hug him.
This book will make you smile, laugh and cry. This book will make you angry (I absolutely hated the twins and if I had been Enzo, I would have bit them). For me, only a book that truly speaks to my heart is capable of bringing out so many emotions when I read it and The Art of Racing in the Rain did that and more. Get this book, but dont just read itsavor it. Life is short and Enzo showed me how important it is to make every moment count.