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The Art of Racing in the Rain Hardcover – May 13, 2008
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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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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“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 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)
“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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Top customer reviews
As a rule I avoid sad dog things. Not because I don't like dogs, but because I love them. For me, a sad situation with a dog is 1000x worse than with a person, and I just don't have the emotional capability to keep it together. But a friend of mine recommended this book multiple times over the past year, so I finally bite the bullet and read it.
And let me tell you, I regret nothing. This book was amazing. I cried in the first chapter and could not stop reading. The voice of this book is crystal clear. It's wonderful to hear a life told from a dog's perspective and Enzo is so much more than just a dog. He is a confident, a shoulder, a protector, and a prisoner. I love him. I love Garth Stein for doing this.
The one disclaimer I have, don't read this in public. I finished this book in an airport and thought TSA was going to have to get involved. So many feels.
I love my dog. I never knew I could love a dog so much before I met him, and maybe that's why I never gave this book a chance before. I'd seen it, of course. At Walmart and Barnes and Noble, it seemed like this book was everywhere I went for a while. I'd even picked it up and read the cover copy more than once. The title always grabbed me—I've been a racing fan for most of my life and I knew that the ability to drive a race car in the rain is considered the truest test of a driver's skill—but I had no interest in reading a story about dogs or investing any amount of time in a story told by a dog, no matter how many bestseller lists it ended up on.
Not until my own dog came into my life.
I purchased this book on sale for Kindle two and a half years ago and only started reading it yesterday. To be honest, I was scrolling through my cloud library and had forgotten it was there. I don't know that I even intended to start reading when I saw it, but I opened it and the hauntingly beautiful narrative that begins the story drew me right in. I read half the book on my iPhone last night. This is unusual behavior for me, as I usually don't read that much at a time and I never read on my phone. It's a testament to the easy writing style Stein displays but also to the power of this story.
The story is simple. It's dark from the beginning, with constant allusions to the inevitability of death and the fragile nature of life right from the start.
The book opens as Enzo, the dog, allows himself to succumb to failing health in the hopes that, once he dies, he will be reincarnated as a man. Knowing this is the last night of his life as a dog, he tells the story of his life starting from his puppy days on a farm, when a young man named Denny picked him out of the liter and purchased him from a mean puppy breeder.
Of course, this is really Denny's story as told by Enzo. Through the narrative, we see that Denny is alone in the world, with dreams of becoming a professional race car driver and the talent to make those dreams come true. Early on, Denny falls in love with Eve and it seems as though the introduction of Eve into the home—coming between Denny and Enzo, stealing Danny's attention away from Enzo—will be the dramatic conflict around which the story unfolds. Denny and Eve marry, they have a child, and they are happy for a while. Then things go very, very terribly wrong for Denny and Eve in a Lifetime movies kind of way. In the hands of a lesser writer, this would be a forgettable tale overwrought with drama and depression. Yet Stein combines masterful storytelling ability with the clever narrative of unfolding the story through Enzo's eyes. This narrative truly breathes life into what could easily have been a dark, depressing story. Reading THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, one truly feels as though they are seeing the world through the eyes of a beloved dog.
There's tremendous wisdom in the narrative. Motivational, self-help type wisdom. It comes at the most unexpected moments, a natural outcropping of the canine narrator's struggle to process events in the all-too-human world he's describing. There's also a great deal of discussion about racing. As a racing fanatic, I loved it the depth and accuracy of the racing parts. Most people really don't get racing, they think it's just a bunch of cars going in circles, but it's obvious Stein has been behind the wheel before and it translates into the narrative. For those who don't enjoy racing, the racing discussion may be a big of a drag, but it really does play into the story and the narrative. I'm not objective in the matter, so I can't say whether it would turn someone who hates racing away from the story.
I have to say, I love this book. In fact, this book may have re-sparked a dormant love of literature.
I use to be a veracious reader in my 20s but now in my late 30s I've found that most novels don't hold my attention. The last novel I read completely was THE ALCHEMIST, and before that... I'm not sure. BREAKFAST AT TIFFANIES, perhaps. Or A NIGHT TO REMEMBER. I've started many novels in the past few years and finished very few, mostly classics. THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN captured me in a way I can only remember a handful of novels doing in the past. It's a book I will undoubtedly revisit, and even as I type this, I cannot get the scene out of my mind where Denny takes Enzo for a test drive around Thunder Hill raceway, with Denny barking excitedly, encouraging Denny to go faster and wishing he could speak so he could tell Denny to take one more lap, that he lives for that one more lap... I, along with Enzo, want that one more lap to last forever.
I mentioned at the beginning that I love my dog, a love that came upon me all at once and unexpectedly. Much like my love for this book. If anything, this book has only made me love my dog more, and I see similarities between Enzo and my dog. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go hug my dog tight and tell him I love him before going to bed tonight.
Karen Cobbs, Author or "The Dogs of My Life and What They Teach Me About the Kingdom of God."
You will find the dogs narration of his life funny, witty and touching. The book just made me appreciate reading again for pleasure. I really loved this book and its author.