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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel » User review

The Art of Racing in the Rain - A fun, but imperfect, novel

  • Feb 21, 2010
Rating:
+3
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 humans, and also from watching television. He is our narrator.

Enzo lives with his master, Denny, who is a racecar driver. This is largely the story of Denny, his family life and his life at the racetrack. Fans of cars and racing will enjoy the numerous scenes describing the races and the skills and attitude necessarily to win races. Even Races in the Rain! Denny also marries and has a daughter, and, through Enzo, we learn about their family life.

Eventually, though, lots of drama starts to happen. Bad stuff. REALLY BAD STUFF. In fact, much of the book has to do with all the really bad things that happen in Denny's life. It just keeps piling on and on. The reader barely gets a break from all the misery. Fear not, though, in this roller-coaster of a tale, life gets brought back into balance again, eventually.

When I first heard this was a book narrated by a dog, I wondered if that would end up being just a silly gimmick to draw us into the book. However, despite my skepticism, I found myself truly enjoying the "voice" of Denny. The author does a great job of showing us how a dog would react to various activities going on in the life of a family. Enzo has lived a long dog's life and has learned a thing or two about the world. He shares with us his thoughts and philosophy of life. The writing style is crisp and there are adorable moments of both humor and tenderness. Denny has learned a lot from watching lots of television, and the interjection of some references to popular television shows is clever and witty.

I enjoyed the writing style and the quick, pleasant read. However, I have to admit that the roller-coaster ride, with all the over-the-top drama was a bit much. It started to seem like a soap opera, and a tear jerker.  I felt no real connection to the characters either; no sense of really caring what happened to them.

Worst of all, the ending, sort of a magical, fairy tale ending did not ring true at all. The ending seemed like the type of ending an inexperienced writer will use when they cannot think of a clever, creative ending.

I recommend The Art of Racing in the Rain as a pleasant, light read. I had fun reading it. Fans of dogs and race cars would probably enjoy this book even more than I did. However, while well written, the story itself, and the ending in particular, are fairly forgettable.

Recommended:
Yes

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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 . September 27, 2009
A story narrated by a dog named Enzo? The cutesy factor, no doubt, has a lot to do with why this book is so popular and well-liked. One might even be inclined to pooh-pooh it as a contrivance to charm the reader, but this book has much more to offer than mere cutesiness.    Enzo, the dog, is lovable and deliriously funny. He describes his life with his master Denny Swift, a race car driver. Denny's forte is his ability to maneuver a race car in the rain better than any other …
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Diana ()
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Just your basic mother, wife, doctor, email addict. Oh, and I have a bunch of hobbies and enjoy trying new things and meeting new people.
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Wiki

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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Details

ISBN-10: 0061537969
ISBN-13: 978-0061537967
Author: Garth Stein
Genre: Literature & Fiction, Nonfiction
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
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