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A Fable

  • Jul 29, 2009
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Enzo, a lab-terrier mix, is tired of being a dog. He is looking forward, in fact, to the end of his life because of his certainty that, next time around, he will return to consciousness as a man. Enzo just cannot wait to have opposable thumbs and the kind of tongue that will allow him to form all the words he has rattling around in his head.

He knows how lucky he is to have been the one chosen from his litter of pups to live with Denny, a Seattle-based racecar driver and mechanic. Denny treats Enzo more as a friend than a pet and Enzo is smart enough to know the difference. He is not sure at first what to think when Denny falls in love with Eve and brings her home to live with them but, when a daughter is born to the happy couple, all is well again in Enzo's world.

Enzo learns about life by listening to Denny talk about his car racing philosophy, a philosophy filled with observations that work just as well in real life as they work on the racetrack. He fills, what would otherwise be lonely days alone, watching television documentaries and The Weather Channel and, in the process, becomes more and more convinced that he is, indeed, prepared to take on human form in his next life. His evenings are so often spent along side Denny on the couch watching tapes of Denny's past races that he even becomes somewhat of an racetrack expert.

When things take a turn for the worse for Denny and those closest to him, Enzo is there to suffer right along side him, and even manages to keep Denny from making a bad decision or two that might have cost him everything he loves most. Enzo is what we want to believe our own dogs are like. He is patient, loving, and totally aware of his place in the world but he remains capable of protecting us from ourselves and others.

And therein lies my problem with "The Art of Racing in the Rain."

I could never suspend my disbelief to the degree required to lose myself in the book and, without that suspension of disbelief, I was unable to appreciate Garth Stein's fable the way so many others have appreciated it. Enzo is the smartest guy in the room and, since the book is told from his point-of-view, he is almost always in the room. He understands Denny, his friends, his wife, and those who mean to harm him better than Denny ever will. All those hours spent in front of a television have provided Enzo with the equivalent of a college education, it seems. He not only understands everything he sees and hears, he is generally one step ahead of the humans around him.

I understand the appeal of "The Art of Racing in the Rain." Denny's race strategy and driving techniques easily translate into a coherent philosophical approach to life itself. It is a classic tale of courage, perseverance, love, and compassion, though, ultimately, it so closely follows the classic form that it holds few surprises. As in the case of many good books, however, the fun comes from the journey itself and not from the final destination. I dare say that most people who read "The Art of Racing in the Rain" are likely to enjoy it more than I enjoyed it, but I am not sorry that I spent a few hours with Enzo.

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More The Art of Racing in the Rain:... reviews
review by . April 03, 2010
I would have had no problem giving this book 5 stars if the constant, detailed descriptions of car racing had been toned down. As a woman who is not a fan of car racing, I went from bored to irritated to downright annoyed as the story lapsed into page after page of racing talk on a regular basis. I GET that car racing was being used as an metaphor for life, etc., etc., but I don't have to be hammered over the head with it, especially when it is a subject in which I have no interest.    …
review by . August 10, 2010
Meet Enzo, the story's narrator. He's smart, loveable and he loves to watch car racing. He tells you the story of himself, Denny, Eve and Zoe. You'll laugh, you'll cry, but mostly you'll marvel at what an excellent job that Stein does writing as the family dog.      That's right- Enzo is the beloved family pet. And he's quite complex, emotional and above all else, loyal. The relationship between Denny and …
review by . July 12, 2010
Enzo loves nothing more than racing around a racetrack with his master, up-and-coming race car driver Denny Swift. Enzo has been with Denny since puppyhood and the two share a heartwarming relationship. Enzo is Denny's best friend and confidante and Enzo dreams of one day returning to Earth as a human with hopes of meeting Denny in that form.      The book begins on the eve of Enzo's death, and from that point backtracks to the life shared by a caring man and his dog. …
review by . May 29, 2010
A friend of mine told me I should absolutely read this book last year. I hadn't gotten around to reading it when my turn for book club came up, so I recommended this book and read it. I'm a little scared to know what some of the group will think. I honestly went in thinking I wouldn't like it. It's a dog book. You already know the dog is going to die - not only does the description give it away but let's face it, the dog ALWAYS dies in a dog book. It's a rule. No really, go look it it up!    It' …
Quick Tip by . August 29, 2010
Loved the book. It's a funny and touching story at the same time. I don't think you'll ever look at your canine companion the same way again after reading this book.
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
EVERYONE should read this book!
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
THis is a great book!
Quick Tip by . June 15, 2010
loved the narrative from the dogs point of view.
review by . April 13, 2010
"If animals could talk", wonder no more! This novel will share with you the love, caring, sensitivity, and understanding of man's best friend, his or her dog. Garth Stein portrays how the dog Enzo makes its master Eddy sensitive to the cruelties, injustices, and selfishness that humans do to each other when Enzo protects Eddy in crucial situations.  The novel portrays a love affair between a human and his animal that people who love animals can relate to and enjoy reading. The novel also …
review by . February 21, 2010
Pros: The wise voice of Enzo, the dog; witty, clear writing style     Cons: Overly dramatic storyline; weak ending     The Bottom Line: A fun quick read; just don't expect a great story     On this rainy afternoon, let me race to tell you about Garth Stein's novel Racing in the Rain. First, we meet Enzo, a very wise, elderly dog. Although Enzo does not speak, he is highly intelligent, has learned a great deal from his interactions with …
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Sam Sattler ()
Ranked #254
Oil company professional of almost 40 years experience who has worked in oil-producing countries around the world. I love books, baseball and bluegrass music and hope to dedicate myself to those hobbies … more
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If you've ever wondered what your dog is thinking, Stein's third novel offers an answer. Enzo is a lab terrier mix plucked from a farm outside Seattle to ride shotgun with race car driver Denny Swift as he pursues success on the track and off. Denny meets and marries Eve, has a daughter, Zoë, and risks his savings and his life to make it on the professional racing circuit. Enzo, frustrated by his inability to speak and his lack of opposable thumbs, watches Denny's old racing videos, coins koanlike aphorisms that apply to both driving and life, and hopes for the day when his life as a dog will be over and he can be reborn a man. When Denny hits an extended rough patch, Enzo remains his most steadfast if silent supporter. Enzo is a reliable companion and a likable enough narrator, though the string of Denny's bad luck stories strains believability. Much like Denny, however, Stein is able to salvage some dignity from the over-the-top drama.(May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.--This text refers to theHardcoveredition.
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ISBN-10: 0061537969
ISBN-13: 978-0061537967
Author: Garth Stein
Genre: Literature & Fiction, Nonfiction
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
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