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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 2007Reed Business Information
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.]
The Art of Racing in the Rain
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
Posted May 24, 2009
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.
136 out of 145 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 1, 2008
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!
81 out of 88 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 5, 2008
I Also Recommend:
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). <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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.
36 out of 49 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 21, 2009
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.
25 out of 42 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 31, 2009
I am halfway through the book and I'm seriously questioning whether to countine reading. I was so excited to read this book becuase I thought the whole story seemed cute and cool but then as I was reading I got creeped out. Like the sex scenes are uncalled for and a zebra sexually assualting the toys. I mean it is funny whenever enzo brings up the zebra throughout the book. And then Denny has a 15 year old try to hook up with him and then when they talk about sex offenders. Ughhh like who really actually writes books like this. No offense to the author but my first impression on him is that he's a creep for writing stuff like this. I know if I look past this stuff the book really is good but I just don't think I can go on. Here is one thing Enzo did not talk about why does everyone have to put uncalled for sex parts in books and tv and movies. It truly is disgusting. Everyone needs to calm down a bit here.
25 out of 63 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 4, 2010
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.
19 out of 23 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 11, 2010
Eh. I definitely wouldn't call this literature. It was a quick and easy read - I finished it in about two days - but the writing style was very basic and the plot was weak and terribly predictable. If you're looking for a beach read, knock yourself out. If you're looking for something with a little weight, you will not find it in this fluffy tome. A good gift for your mother-in-law.
17 out of 78 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 17, 2008
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.
13 out of 16 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 16, 2010
"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.
10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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!
10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 9, 2012
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.
9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 31, 2009
In Seattle Enzo the mixed breed dog believes he is different from most if not all other canines as he knows he has a human soul and looks forward to his reincarnation as a man. He adores his human companion Denny and loves their bachelor existences. Denny works at an auto repair shop trying to obtain the capital needed to become a racing driver. Enzo supports the dream by watching racing on TV especially tapes involving his best friend and has become an expert on the subject, but is frustrated with his inability to communicate with his two legged buddy.
Denny meets and falls in love with Eve. They marry but the woman and the dog mistrust one another. Denny is away racing when Eve goes into labor; she turns to Enzo as her coach. Enzo loves the new baby, Zoe, but also fears for the mom as her "odor" smells rancid. Eve becomes ill and dies. Her parents who loathe Denny sue for custody of Zoe although they know they have no chance of winning. Instead they arrange for their fifteen years old niece to seduce Enzo, but he rejects the teen. Still she screams rape and now his case is weak. With Enzo still riding shotgun, Denny keeps fighting.
Told by Enzo, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN is an engaging inspirational tale that encourages people to go after your dreams. The story line is filled with metaphors especially comparing life to race car driving on an oval track. Although the in-laws' shenanigans seem unreal particularly compared with a dog thinking like a human, fans will enjoy this fine uplifting anthropomorphic saga of life as seen through the personification of a thinking person's dog.
8 out of 16 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 10, 2012
I love dogs and books about them, but closed this one up half way through. Redundant plot....Dog loves Master. Master loves Dog. Master loves racing therefore Dog loves racing. Master finds woman to love so Dog tries to love woman. Woman loves Man but is jealous of Dog and does not like Dog. Dog loves Master but is jealous of Woman and does not like Woman. Woman becomes wife...Dog tolerates. Baby arrives...dog tolerates. Wife has cancer....Dog softens re wife and baby. Primary concern....Master. Or Zebra??? Really?? Read A Dog's Purpose if you want to read an epic dog's book! Now that's a 5 star book!!!
6 out of 20 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 6, 2011
Being a huge dog lover, I really, really wanted to like this book. And from reading all the reviews I expected that I would. Sadly, this book, to me, is not "a must" for dog lovers.
Other than Enzo the dog, I found myself not really caring about any of the characters. There were some funny moments with the dog but they were few and far between. About one third of the way into the book, the plot line becomes completely depressing and it never lets up after that. The story really seems to be about all the horrible things that happen to the main human character, who just happens to have his story being told by a dog.
I don't know, maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind when I read this. It definitely did not give me the warm fuzzies, but maybe you'll like it.
6 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 24, 2012
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.
5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 28, 2012
This one was recommended to me after I really enjoyed "A Dog's Purpose" by W. Bruce Cameron. Cameron uses the dog in his story as an example, demonstrating that we can learn unconditional love and pure joy from our canine companions, he writes the story as if it is from a Dog's point of view both emotionally and physically.
This author failed to do the same. This is a very superficial exploitation of the "Dog POV" gimmick, putting a dog on the cover of a book like this is just a middle finger to a dog-loving audience as he really just put a human narrator in a dog's body.
Maybe if I hadn't read a superior dog book first I would have liked this one, but when you read one that gets it right beforehand this will let you down.
5 out of 15 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 14, 2011
After reading the reviews and seeing the ratings for Racing in the Rain, I was really looking forward to reading this book. But I have to say I was a little disappointed by the middle of the book and the experience never improved. I agree with previous reviewers who docked the book for the plot twist which I found unnecessary and distracting from the overall direction and message of the book. The overall plot was mostly entertaining, but not as moving and substantial as other reviewers have made it out to be. The story just did not move me to the heights of enthusiasm and ebullience as it apparently did for others.
4 out of 10 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 24, 2009
I had been wanting to read this for a really long time, and recently finally broke down and bought it. I was slightly disappointed--I thought the title was alluding more to the art of the dog running in the rain, and it was actually literally about car racing--which just does not interest me AT ALL! So, I really just skimmed those parts because I really have no interest in cars at all and they were so so detailed and took up so much of the book.
I was much more interested in the relationships, and of course--the dog, which was why I got the book, because I truly adore dogs. The end was worth it for me, as it truly captured Denny and Enzo's relationship.
Near the end I got annoyed when I though Enzo was truly speaking though, and I thought the book dragged on a bit (maybe I was just sad for Denny?). Overall not MAD I read it, just not the greatest book ever.
4 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 2, 2013
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.
3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.