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Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

I don’t often write book reviews so I’ll break with tradition and skip directly to point: go out right now and get a copy and read it.  It is one of those rare books you’ll never forget.

This is the autobiography of Enzo, a Lab mix who recounts for us his life with Denny, the man who first chose him from among a litter of chubby puppies born on a farm in eastern Washington.  Yes, you read it correctly – autobiography.  It turns out some dogs are very articulate, as I always suspected.

Denny works as a service manager at a BMW and Mercedes dealership while he attempts to break in to the competitive world of auto racing.  As his closest companion and biggest fan, Enzo is always by Denny’s side as he risks his financial future and his life to race to the top.  And as the family grows from one man and his dog, to a young couple with a baby girl, Enzo’s role in Denny’s life changes from chief companion and cheerleader to stalwart guardian of home, hearth and heart.  As Denny’s ever-present chronicler and wingman, Enzo details the struggles and vicissitudes of modern life with pathos and understanding few humans themselves ever achieve.  Yet at times, his frustration with his inability to effectively communicate so overwhelms him that the only thing left is to shit on the carpet.

Like us, sometimes the only thing we can think to do is punch the other guy in the face.

Garth Stein has spent considerable time pondering the life of dogs.  Enzo’s inner motivations are so honest and true it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Stein spent an entire day moving around his house on all fours and attempting to communicating only with facial expressions.  If you’ve ever had a dog and asked yourself, “Why in the hell did they do that?” you’ll wonder no longer after reading Stein’s book.  Enzo explains it all.

Enzo’s take on human behavior is a breath of fresh air.  As he struggles to come to terms with the motivations of the people around him, he gains an understanding of what it takes to be happy in a world we can’t always control.  He watches and learns and dreams of the day when he will be reincarnated as a human with the ability to speak clearly and grasp doorknobs with an opposable thumb.  He doesn’t always understand why people do the things we do, but he knows he wants to be one of us if for no other reason than to teach the rest of us what he’s already learned about being a good person.

Get this book, read it and then give your dog a hug.

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  1. August 27, 2012 at 5:58 am

    Great review for a great book! I do a lot of book reviews (mostly nonfiction)

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