Two barks means faster – Review "The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel"

art of racingA heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope—a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it

I knew I was in trouble when tears were forming in the corners of my eyes before the end of first chapter of The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel by Garth Stein. I am a dog lover, so my opinion of this book may be biased but I would venture that most folks would fall under the spell of Enzo, a lab/terrier/? mix who, as narrator, reflects on his life. Enzo’s philosophical  views on the world are largely based on his family, watching documentaries and The Weather Channel (“it’s about the world”), tapes from his “owner” Denny’s racing career and visits to the racetrack. He is frustrated with his lack of thumbs and lack of voice. He cannot wait to come back as a human someday. He is a constant in a family that faces many crises. Another constant is racing. Denny is an aspiring race-car driver working his way up through the circuits. Enzo compares living a good life to what it takes to be a great driver.  It is not only about going fast.  Now, I am not a race fan. I have never really understood the driving around the same path over and over but I must admit, I have a different perspective of the sport after reading this book.

Garth Stein’s writing is thought-provoking and honest. Enzo’s narration is so compelling and believable. He is able to see the wonder of being human even if we have forgotten. I found myself looking at my dogs and nodding in agreement with Enzo’s thoughts. Mr. Stein’s descriptions of racing, what it is like behind the wheel and what it takes to be a great racer are beautiful. If being a driver is akin to Mr. Stein’s depiction, I now understand the need for speed.

Do you need to be a dog lover or race fan or both to enjoy this book?  I should hope not.

And now for a little Enzo (from the author’s website):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ0CTcU0Fd0&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0]

You can also hear a July 22, 2009 interview on BlogTalk Radio with the author here.

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Comments
  • Jenny August 10, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Good review! I have this on my TBR and would probably have been turned off by the race car driving aspect of the story but sounds like I will still like it anyway!

  • Ariya December 26, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Hi, i thought the book was simply amazing and filled with humour and insights..just bought it online from a1books..what an inspiring read

  • cjz111 August 20, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    The car racing references in the book actually add to the entire reading experience!

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