Tuesday, February 2, 2010


[Photo Credit: Barnes and Noble]

Looking for a book to tap into all of your emotions? Unless you're a rock (and even then, maybe) The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is guaranteed to have you laughing, crying, aching, thinking, feeling, believing within the first 25 pages. A quick read, it's available in paperback, and I suggest you not miss experiencing this gem of a novel.

The story is told through the eyes of the narrator - dear,wise, old, Enzo, Denny's beloved yellow lab (mix with a "problem solver" terrier?).

"Denny is as good as Ayrton Senna. But no one sees him because he has responsibilities. He has his daughter, Zoe, and he had his wife, Eve, who was sick until she died, and he has me. And he lives in Seattle when he should live somewhere else. And he has a job. But sometimes when he goes away he comes back with a trophy and he shows it to me and tells me all about his races and how he shone on the track and taught those other drivers in Sonoma or Texas or Mid-Ohio what driving in wet weather is all about."

Enzo, learns much of what he knows about the world from television. Denny leaves the tv on throughout the day to keep Enzo company until he gets home. Enzo loves watching tapes of Denny's competitive car racing adventures. Knowing that car racing is where Denny feels most alive, Enzo longs for him to find a way, out of the responsibility rut he's trapped himself in since his wife's death, to get back into it.

The themes of aging, death, love, letting go, and living are so well developed. Only a true philosopher could grasp it all and then condense it into this simple, wonderful tale. For me, the dying with dignity theme was most poignant. Also, the touching way Enzo helps Denny "let go".

Don't worry that the book is too much of a downer though. Hard to believe, but you will find yourself laughing harder than ever as this story drives its points along the racetrack of life. Enzo is the funniest human/dog soul you could ever hope to know. Truly, I dare you to not laugh!

Here's a cool interview with the author, Garth Stein. I can't wait to hear him speak at my local bookstore this evening!

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