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The Art of Racing in the Rain Hardcover – May 13, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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)
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“The Art of Racing in The Rain has everything: love, tragedy, redemption, danger, and--most especially--the canine narrator Enzo. This old soul of a dog has much to teach us about being human. I loved this book.” (Sara Gruen, Author of Water for Elephants)

“One of those stories that may earn its place next to Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” (Portland Oregonian)

“Splendid.” (People (3 ½ out of 4 stars))

“Fans of Marley & Me, rejoice.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“The perfect book for anyone who knows that some of our best friends walk beside us on four legs; that compassion isn’t only for humans; and that the relationship between two souls...meant for each other never really comes to an end.” (Jodi Picoult)

“The Art of Racing in The Rain has everything: love, tragedy, redemption, danger, and--most especially--the canine narrator Enzo. This old soul of a dog has much to teach us about being human.” (Sara Gruen, Author of Water for Elephants)

“I savored Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain for many reasons: a dog who speaks, the thrill of competitive racing, a heart-tugging storyline, and--best of all--the fact that it is a meditation on humility and hope in the face of despair.” (Wally Lamb, Author of She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (May 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061537934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061537936
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6,507 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Garth Stein is the author of four novels: the New York Times bestselling gothic/historical/coming-of-age/ghost story, "A Sudden Light;" the internationally bestselling "The Art of Racing in the Rain;" the PNBA Book Award winner, "How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets;" and the magically realistic "Raven Stole the Moon." He is also the author of the stage play, "Brother Jones." He has a dog, he's raced a few cars, climbed a bunch of really tall trees, made a few documentary films, and he lives in Seattle with his family. He's co-founder of, a non-profit collective of 74 Northwest authors working together to energize the reading and writing public.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have finally found a new novel I can stand to read.

To my great astonishment, it's told by a dog. (I'm not a pet-lover).

It contains many insights about car racing. (I have no interest in car racing, and I look askance at sports analogies.)

And the author has described it as "Jonathan Livingston Seagull' for dogs." (That book is tied with 'The Giving Tree' as my Least Favorite Ever.)

So what do I find to praise?

The concept: "When a dog is finished living his lifetimes as a dog, his next incarnation will be as a man." Not all dogs. Only those who are ready. Enzo, a shepherd-poodle-terrier mix, is ready.

Enzo has spent years watching daytime TV, mostly documentaries and the Weather Channel (It's "not about weather, it is about the world"). And because Denny Swift, his owner, is a mechanic who's training to race cars, he and Enzo watch countless hours of race footage. So Enzo knows about the world beyond the Swift home near Seattle.

The situation is equally appealing: Enzo is old, facing death. While he has learned from racing movies to forget the past and live in the moment, this is his time to remember. And he can remember objectively --- as a dog, his senses are sharper, his emotions less complicated. With the clarity of a Buddha, Enzo can see. And he can listen: "I never interrupt, I never deflect the conversation with a comment of my own." So he's quite the knowing narrator.

And then the story: a happy family, brimming with good feeling and ambitious dreams. Denny loves Enzo like a son. Denny loves his wife Eve, who works for a big retail company that "provided us with money and health insurance." And Denny lives for Zoe, their daughter.
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487 of 508 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on June 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Since I am a young teenager, you might think it doesn't mean much for me to say that this is the best book ever. But I've read a pretty good amount of books for someone my age. When I read this book, I felt a connection with it that I haven't felt with any other book. It made me feel the pain, the happiness, the sadness, and the humor in the characters lives. I cried at two points in the book because of the way the author was able describe it. It wasn't that it was sad, it was just that it was told in such a beautiful and truthful way. Obviously, you might say that a dog could not think like a human, so how could it be truthful. But this book is not about what real dogs think. It's about spiritual and emotional truths. Doesn't anyone remember Charlotte's Web? Enzo says, "My intent, here, is to tell our story in a dramatically truthful way. While the facts may be less than accurate, please understand that the emotion is true. The intent is true. And, dramatically speaking, intention is everything."

Because I'm 12, I did have to discuss the book with my parents. I needed to ask questions about the custody battle and Eve's sickness. I recommend this book to anyone who is open to the ideas of creating your own life and not being a victim. Anyone who thinks this book has anything to do with bad luck (I've seen some of the reviews) is really missing the message. There is nothing random. As Enzo says, we are all extensions of everything. Where you focus your energy is what happens in your life. What happens in the end is what has to happen. It is the only true ending that fits the whole buildup of where Denny and Enzo placed their energy.
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391 of 415 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Del Sesto on May 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I might secretly be a dog person, or maybe subconsciously ... but if you were to ask me I would tell you I'm not a dog person. Oh, but how I loved Enzo.

On the eve of his death, Enzo (a dog) tells what amounts to his master's life story. Stein's attention to detail was amazing - the book read like it was written by somebody who took the time to stop and think "what would a dog feel/do in this situation?" As a result, Enzo is memorable and lovable. He's at once a crotchety old man, and an innocent youth. He's wise, he's naive, and he is devoted.

I'm not going to lie to you, this book is very sad. But it is also laugh out loud funny at times, and filled with love, devotion, philosophy and hopefulness.

It's a beautiful book and definitely one of my favorites of the year.
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429 of 477 people found the following review helpful By Thriller Lover VINE VOICE on June 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, a book that reminds me of the work of Mitch Albom or Nicholas Sparks. This is essentially the story of one man's life struggle, as seen from the perspective of the family dog. The dog, named Enzo, is as intelligent as a human being, and pretty much thinks like one. Most of the humor of the book comes from Enzo's unhappiness with his dog status, and his intense desire to be a human in the next life.

The actual plot of THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, however, revolves around Enzo's master Denny, who suffers a series of family tragedies. I personally found Denny's story a bit on the melodramatic side (nothing about this book is particularly subtle), but Enzo's presence makes this novel more original and fresh than it otherwise would be. The ending of this book struck me as a bit too Hollywood, but parts of this book are emotionally touching.

THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN is easy to read, and you can finish it in one sitting. There's quite a bit of crude humor in this novel, but I think most people will enjoy it. If you think Mitch Albom and Nicholas Sparks are pure schmaltz, you will no doubt think the same thing about this novel. But if you like short, sentimental stories, I think this book is definitely worth your time.
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