The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel

The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel

4.4 3381
by Garth Stein

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A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope—a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.

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A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope—a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.

Editorial Reviews

Jodi Picoult
“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.”
Sara Gruen
“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.”
Wally Lamb
“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.”
People (3 ½ out of 4 stars)
Entertainment Weekly
“Fans of Marley & Me, rejoice.”
Portland Oregonian
“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.”
Publishers Weekly
Christopher Evan Welch has a knack for delving into heart-wrenching material with finesse. Stein's tale of family, loss, redemption, and fast cars-recounted entirely from the perspective of a retriever-terrier mix named Enzo-ups the ante on the recent trend of high-concept anthropomorphism in popular fictions. Once listeners buy into Stein's premise, Welch faithfully delivers the goods. He is particularly effective in scenes where Enzo navigates the blurry area between his human-like thoughts and his base animal instincts (like when abandonment issues during a family medical emergency compel him to wreak havoc on a stuffed animal). Welch re-creates Enzo's pivotal moment of sheer bliss-riding on the track with his racecar driver human companion Denny-with evocative detail. The musical interludes at the start and end of the CD help preserve an earnest and dignified atmosphere. A Harper hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 28).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Enzo narrates his life story, beginning with his impending death. Enzo's not afraid of dying, as he's seen a television documentary on the Mongolian belief that a good dog will reincarnate as a man. Yes, Enzo is a dog. And he belongs to Denny: husband, father, customer service technician. Denny's dream is to be a professional race-car driver, and Enzo recounts the triumphs and tragedies-medical, financial, and legal-they share in this quest, the dangers of the racetrack being the least of their obstacles. Enzo ultimately teaches Denny and the reader that persistence and joie de vivre will see them through to the checkered flag. Stein (Raven Stole the Moon) creates a patient, wise, and doggish narrator that is more than just fluff and collar. This should appeal to fans of both dogs and car racing; recommended for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/08; see also the Q&A with Stein, p. 74.]
—Dan Forrest

Kirkus Reviews
Stein (How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets, 2005, etc.) uses a dog as narrator to clever effect in this tear-jerker about an aspiring race-car driver who suffers more woes than Job but never mistreats his dog. Lab mix Enzo believes he is different from other dogs, that he has a human soul in a dog body. Enzo is frustrated that he can use only "gestures" to communicate with his beloved owner Denny. Denny works in a Seattle auto-repair shop to earn money to race. Enzo watches racing channels on TV, soaking up facts and lore. Dog and man are happy in their bachelor Eden. Enter Eve. She and Enzo are wary at first. Then she goes into labor while Denny's away racing and she keeps Enzo beside her. Enzo adores the baby, Zoe, but he soon smells that something is off with Eve. By the time Zoe is a toddler, Eve has increasingly bad headaches but refuses to see a doctor until it's too late. Now come the travails. During Eve's painful, lingering death, her parents, who have never approved of Denny, loom increasingly large. When Eve dies, they sue for permanent custody of Zoe. Their case is weak until Denny is charged with rape: After a reunion of Eve's family shortly before her death, Denny gave a ride home to Eve's 15-year-old cousin, who attempted to seduce him; he rebuffed her but Enzo was the only witness. Eve's evil parents are behind the trumped-up charges. Noble Denny keeps fighting for Zoe, living by his mantra, "That which you manifest is before you." When he almost buckles, Enzo provides some rather unique assistance. Pointedly inspirational.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.75(d)
850L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Art of Racing in the Rain
A Novel

Chapter One

Gestures are all that I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature. And while I occasionally step over the line and into the world of the melodramatic, it is what I must do in order to communicate clearly and effectively. In order to make my point understood without question. I have no words I can rely on because, much to my dismay, my tongue was designed long and flat and loose, and therefore, is a horribly ineffective tool for pushing food around my mouth while chewing, and an even less effective tool for making clever and complicated polysyllabic sounds that can be linked together to form sentences. And that's why I'm here now waiting for Denny to come home—he should be here soon—lying on the cool tiles of the kitchen floor in a puddle of my own urine.

I'm old. And while I'm very capable of getting older, that's not the way I want to go out. Shot full of pain medication and steroids to reduce the swelling of my joints. Vision fogged with cataracts. Puffy, plasticky packages of Doggie Depends stocked in the pantry. I'm sure Denny would get me one of those little wagons I've seen on the streets, the ones that cradle the hindquarters so a dog can drag his ass behind him when things start to fail. That's humiliating and degrading. I'm not sure if it's worse than dressing up a dog for Halloween, but it's close. He would do it out of love, of course. I'm sure he would keep me alive as long as he possibly could, my body deteriorating, disintegrating around me, dissolving until there's nothing left but my brain floating in a glass jar filled with clear liquid, my eyeballs drifting atthe surface and all sorts of cables and tubes feeding what remains. But I don't want to be kept alive. Because I know what's next. I've seen it on TV. A documentary I saw about Mongolia, of all places. It was the best thing I've ever seen on television, other than the 1993 Grand Prix of Europe, of course, the greatest automobile race of all time in which Ayrton Senna proved himself to be a genius in the rain. After the 1993 Grand Prix, the best thing I've ever seen on TV is a documentary that explained everything to me, made it all clear, told the whole truth: when a dog is finished living his lifetimes as a dog, his next incarnation will be as a man.

I've always felt almost human. I've always known that there's something about me that's different than other dogs. Sure, I'm stuffed into a dog's body, but that's just the shell. It's what's inside that's important. The soul. And my soul is very human.

I am ready to become a man now, though I realize I will lose all that I have been. All of my memories, all of my experiences. I would like to take them with me into my next life—there is so much I have gone through with the Swift family—but I have little say in the matter. What can I do but force myself to remember? Try to imprint what I know on my soul, a thing that has no surface, no sides, no pages, no form of any kind. Carry it so deeply in the pockets of my existence that when I open my eyes and look down at my new hands with their thumbs that are able to close tightly around their fingers, I will already know. I will already see.

The door opens, and I hear him with his familiar cry, "Yo, Zo!" Usually, I can't help but put aside my pain and hoist myself to my feet, wag my tail, sling my tongue around, and shove my face into his crotch. It takes humanlike willpower to hold back on this particular occasion, but I do. I hold back. I don't get up. I'm acting.


I hear his footsteps, the concern in his voice. He finds me and looks down. I lift my head, wag my tail feebly so it taps against the floor. I play the part.

He shakes his head and runs his hand through his hair, sets down the plastic bag from the grocery that has his dinner in it. I can smell roast chicken through the plastic. Tonight he's having roast chicken and an iceberg lettuce salad.

"Oh, Enz," he says.

He reaches down to me, crouches, touches my head like he does, along the crease behind the ear, and I lift my head and lick at his forearm.

"What happened, kid?" he asks.

Gestures can't explain.

"Can you get up?"

I try, and I scramble. My heart takes off, lunges ahead because no, I can't. I panic. I thought I was just acting, but I really can't get up. Shit. Life imitating art.

"Take it easy, kid," he says, pressing down on my chest to calm me. "I've got you."

He lifts me easily, he cradles me, and I can smell the day on him. I can smell everything he's done. His work, the auto shop where he's behind the counter all day, standing, making nice with the customers who yell at him because their BMWs don't work right and it costs too much to fix them and that makes them mad so they have to yell at someone. I can smell his lunch. He went to the Indian buffet he likes. All you can eat. It's cheap, and sometimes he takes a container with him and steals extra portions of the tandoori chicken and yellow rice and has it for dinner, too. I can smell beer. He stopped somewhere. The Mexican restaurant up the hill. I can smell the tortilla chips on his breath. Now it makes sense. Usually, I'm excellent with elapsed time, but I wasn't paying attention because of my emoting.

He places me gently in the tub and turns on the handheld shower thing and says, "Easy, Enz."

The Art of Racing in the Rain
A Novel
. Copyright © by Garth Stein. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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What People are saying about this

Jodi Picoult

“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.”

Wally Lamb

“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.”

Sara Gruen

“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.”

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The Art of Racing in the Rain 4.4 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 3381 reviews.
vivico1 More than 1 year ago
Most people are saying, if you're a dog lover, you will love this book. Do NOT miss out reading or recommending this story by limiting it to only dog lovers or racing fans. I have no dogs and know little of racing. This book transcends both! It will also make you a fan of both. Garth Stein has written a wonderful book about a great character, a dog named Enzo, whom I came to love and hang on his every thought. Enzo has a better grasp of life than most people do, even if ironically, he wants to be a human. There are life lessons here that will stay with you and put a smile on your face and in your heart as you learn about living for today and how we choose to live today. You will be wondering about a couple of things, what am I manifesting in my life to bring joy into it and, what the heck is my dog or cat thinking anyway?? This is a wonderfully inspiring and entertaining book. Two barks for Enzo! And FIVE stars for Garth Stein for a most delightful reading EXPERIENCE.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing! It left me in all sorts of moods by the end of the day. One day id read for about an hour or two and be done with sad thoughts of the book, and other days id read for up to five hours and feel chipper on the inside. It is told through the eyes and ears of a dog who likes to compare life to racing in the rain. But hes not just an ordinary dog, he believes that he will be reincarnated as a man. I am also proud to say that this is my favorite book so far in life. Even though i may be nothing but a 6th grader and probably wont take my opinion, i loved this book and i think you should read it! Probably like everyone else, this book left me pondering the thought "what would my dog say to me if he could talk" and "what would i do as my dog self." I hope you take my advice because it will pay of. Oh, and Enzo says hi!
Veggiechiliqueen More than 1 year ago
Enzo, a philosopher-dog with terrier/lab origins, has one wish: to be reincarnated as a human. Enzo's owner, Denny, is a semi-professional race car driver who talks to him like he's his equal, so Enzo is well-versed in the art of racing, particularly in the rain. Enzo and Denny watch in-car race videos of Denny's races, and the rest of Enzo's education comes from countless hours of television (some educational, some not).

Enzo admits that he's frustrated by his lack of ability to communicate with humans, from his too-floppy tongue that fails to form words to his lack of opposable thumbs that won't allow him to open doors. He tries to conquer his animal instincts around Denny's young daughter Zoe (no biting and no chasing), and struggles to love Denny's wife Eve, whom he sees as competition. When multiple tragedies strike Denny's home, Enzo is as supportive as he can be under the circumstances. Towards the end of his life, he is reflective about his mission on earth, and looks forward to being reincarnated as a human, so he can finally talk to Denny as a man instead of barking incoherently.

Enzo is a funny, observant narrator, who, although not book-learned (he was never able to teach himself to read), is intelligent, articulate, and has a wicked sense of humor (jalapenos plus obnoxious in-laws plus expensive Berber carpet, for example). His deep insights into human (and canine) nature ring true, especially when he is the only other witness to an incident that nearly ruins Denny's life, and Enzo plays a role in reversing Denny's rock-bottom fortunes.

Delightfully told, The Art of Racing in the Rain is an outsider's look at what makes humans tick, as well as an ode to the art of Formula One and racing. It's a love song to the simple pleasures in life (walking in Seattle's drizzle, stretching out on a sun-warmed sidewalk) and the bonds we forge with those around us. Truthfully, most of the time I kept forgetting that Enzo was even a dog, although he does talk about his early puppyhood at a Washington farm, for Enzo is determined to shed his canine form for a human one, and this includes his thinking processes and actions (as his hips gradually deteriorate, he finds ways to mask his limp so that Denny doesn't suspect). The novel's ending may be a bit too sweet for some, but I found it to be a perfect ending to a tale that only Enzo could tell. Stein's rich, evocative language and heart-tugging storyline involving Enzo's family will be sure to delight fans of Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog and other dog-themed novels.
booksonmynook More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. Read it within 24 hours. Very interesting and makes me love dogs the more.
Van26 More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books. The story made me laugh, cry, and left me wishing it were longer. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a touching story with characters that come alive for the reader. It certainly is not just for people who are dog lovers. It is not just the story of a dog; it is a story of relationships, honor, and unconditional love.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Enzo, the canine hero of Garth Stein's THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, would be right at home with Lassie and Old Yeller. The novel's premise, a dog living a good life so he can be reincarnated as a human is creative. The execution, told from the dog's point of view, is intriguing. Many of our pets, if pressed to tell their life story, might give a boring rendition of naps and altercations with the dog next door. But Enzo is an intelligent observer of human life and faithfully narrates the tale of his master's misfortunes. Enzo is a dog with all the answers, but no means to communicate. An especially poignant flaw when he senses cancer in his master's spouse, and is the only witness when a false accusation threatens his master's life. Stein has delivered a story as warm and fuzzy as a new puppy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My oldest daughter read it first. I can't tell you the last time she actually finished a book, but I couldn't pull this one out of her hands. So was so consumed by it that I decided to read it myself and couldn't put it down. My 11 year old is no reading Racing in the Rain and is just as captured with it as we were.
obsessedreader More than 1 year ago
Delightfully told from the point of view of a with-it dog, The Art of Racing in the Rain is basically a charming book. I really enjoyed it for quite a while. Then I got a bit weary and just waited for it to end (I always have to finish a book). My primary criticism is that the plotline was going along very well, but suddenly a sexual accusation entered in, which seemed superfluous to me. It persisted and drowned the plot (and my enjoyment). There is an art to knowing when to hold back.
avidreader10415 More than 1 year ago
"The Art of Racing in the Rain" is not any ordinary novel that will make you say "That was pretty good. I might recommend this to someone." This book is a novel like no other, and will leave you wishing that the pages of engrossing literature would never end. It will make you say something more like ".I finished it?... My life is over, what am I going to read now?"! This novel, through the eyes of the dog, Enzo, gives you a new definition of life and how we should live it, and is an inspiration to keep on going, no matter the difficulties we encounter each day, whether it be bankruptcy, disease, or depression. In this novel, Garth Stein does not simply give a single climax, but he adds many side conflicts, many of which change your prediction of the end, keeping you guessing all the way to the end. He also uses very detailed and vivid descriptions, almost allowing you to see the conflict unfold before your very eyes. The majority of people who have read this novel are more than satisfied with this novel in all aspects, from the literature used in it to the style of language used. Even if you are not into dogs or racing, this novel will grab you and hold on tightly right to the very last sentence. This realistic tale of hope and the battle we must all fight to get through life is definitely a book worth putting on your booklist if you want a good read, and a real taste of satisfaction when you close the back cover and let out a sigh of content.
Judy_T More than 1 year ago
A friend recommended this book to me. I am not much of a racing fan and was not sure that I would like it, but I gave it a try. I was sniffling within fifty pages and outright sobbing by the end. I had to go give my dogs a big hug! The exploration of the character's relationships from Enzo's viewpoint was so original. I have never read a book like this. I did not connect with most of the racing details, but it tied the book together in a wonderful ending. All dog lovers should read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Since the prolog states that Enzo is dying and is ok with that, you dont have to worry about tthe dogs fate all thru the book. It is highly evolved and gives spiritual comparisons to humanity thru the observation of the silent partner, the dog. I loved this book and its a new auther for me. Touching and thoughtful about the race of human life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hesitated picking this book up because I'm not necessarily sentimental about dogs but this is just simply a wonderful story of a beautiful relationship in trying circumstances. Even if you don't love dogs, you'll love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I wasnt so sure about it when someone recommended it to me, but from the very beginning I was hooked. This is a beautiful story about a very human-like dog and the family he loves...told from his point of view. The family goes through some major trials and tribulations and he plays a key part in helping them keep it all together. It was so wonderfully written that I immediately believed I was reading the memoirs of Enzo, the family dog, and I couldn't wait to read what he had to say next. I think anyone who has ever had a pet they loved will not only enjoy this book, but will also be forever changed by the way they see and interact with their animal companions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It was one of those books that teaches you a few life lessons and keeps you pondering its lessons long after you've read the last page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is fantastic. It is so sad and heartfelt. Anybody who likes dogs should read it, it is awesome!:):):)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book written from the dog's view. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Ms_Marisa2013 More than 1 year ago
Such a cute story, sad at times but absolutely adorable. I fell in love with Enzo. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall excellent... Well written and inspired. Way more than another book about dogs or racing.... both of which really feed this amazing story.  Would read over and over again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book with every intention of reading it over the span of a week or so by forcing myself to read it in my spare time, and was pleasantly surprised to find myself so wrapped up in the story that I finished it within a few hours of buying it. It is both heartwrenching and hilarious, philosophical and utterly realistic, truthful in the best kind of way. Whether you read it in a day or a month, I urge you to take the time to really read the message that this book presents you with and appreciate the beautiful perspective that only a dog can provide - that life is only as much as you aim for it to be: fight to win the race, and don't get left behind at the first corner it throws at you. Keep your balance, and your life - much like a racecar - will follow where you lead it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I read it over a year ago and I still find myself thinking of it. I laughed out loud, got really angry, and cried. Any book that can do all three of those emotions is amazing :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished reading this book that a friend suggested me and loved it. Touching, funny, powerful and serious at times. Any dog and animal lovers should enjoy this book. I could see the dog I had as a Enzo. I do believe animals have more to say...and are incapable of saying in our "human" language. They will talk to us in their language and if we connect with them at a soul, energy level...all is possible. By the way, a friend of mine had once a cat that enjoyed TV...a little like Enzo does.
pnut35 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!! It left me loving my dog even more and wondering if she can really understand what's going on in the world. I highly recommend this book!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This seems like it would be a good read, but it has a lot of "language" in it and I'm not big on the kind of language.
Chelsea15 More than 1 year ago
If you're a Dog lover, please bring the box of tissues. Within the first 5 pages, the heart strings are officially tugged at. If only my 15 year old "puppy" could think like the main character. Other reviewers may give a detail summary of the outline but all I will say is if you loved "Marley and Me", this takes it one step further to the bonding of man and dog. This story is based on how a good,loving and loyal dog behaves and interacts with his family. This is a book that I will never forget. Please make it a movie !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
On the recommendation from someone who never reads, I decided to read it and loved it! It is just one of those books that needs to be read. I don't want to give away anything about it.