Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Author: Garth Stein
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: May 5, 2008
Publisher: Harper Collins
Source: Personal Copy
As an animal lover, I try to stay away from any book that revolves around or is narrated by them. Usually, either old age or a tragedy occurs, resulting in the death of the animal, and I (having two pups myself) become a sobbing wreck. That combined with the knowledge that this book was heavily promoted by Starbucks in their stores kept me away. However, after reading so many great reviews both online and off, and finding a copy at a used bookstore for $1, I had a change of heart.
small house that isn't in the best neighborhood. Without spoiling anything, there are many ups and downs over the years in the lives of Enzo and his family, bringing about the major events that occur later in the book. I must say, I absolutely adored Stein's characterization of Enzo. He's smart and observant with a very philosophical tone to his introspections, and when it comes to his family he is fiercely loyal. However, one thing I did notice was that Enzo seemed to know things that he hadn't been taught, such as how to read. In one part of the book he makes a reference to the alphabet that I found unrealistic, "Whereas Mark Fein was a letter B, this new one was a letter L." Dogs are relatively smart, but I don't think they could learn the alphabet and be able to differentiate letters. Although, I've accepted the fact that a dog is narrating a book, so I guess the letter thing can be overlooked.
While I didn't understand some of the racing jargon and felt like some of the racing-centric chapters were a little confusing and unnecessary, the way Enzo incorporated a lot of Denny's racing techniques and principles into his own life was very endearing. One main lesson is the idea that a driver can control what he initiates but not what he must react to. When life starts to worsen for Denny, he is tempted to throw in the towel, but this lesson plus Enzo's constant companionship help him through his tough times. Even though Denny was portrayed as a little too perfect, he is definitely a protagonist you want to have a happy ending. Do I think the secondary story could have survived on its own as a separate novel? No, and maybe that's why the author went with a dog as a narrator. Many of the characters were not complex or fully developed, and felt like they were only written to fulfill a single purpose.