Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

25 Jan

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein: Book CoverRating:  3 out of 5 stars

About the Book

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life’s ordeals.

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny’s wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoë at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.

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My Review

This book has been on the Paperback Trade Fiction Bestseller List for a whopping 57 weeks.   Obviously, it was going on my to be read list.  When I finally got it from the library, however, I had to force myself to pick it up.  This is mainly because it sounded incredibly dumb to me.  I mean, really, the perspective of a dog?  Perhaps you dog owners would find this a little more intriguing than I, since I am not a dog owner and never have been and may not get some aspect of the relationship with man’s best friend.

The story itself, although sad, was pretty generic.  The tie-in with the car racing and the words of wisdom of the sport and its stars was interesting at first, but then I started skimming – it got sort of cheesy.  The angle of being told from the dog’s point of view was extremely original though and with it, the book is actually pretty enjoyable.  This is solidified by the fact that it is an incredibly fast and easy read (I read it in a little over 5 hours).  Any longer would have been too much of an investment for what I got out of it.  I do believe it I were a dog owner, I would have rated it a bit higher.

Bottom Line: I wouldn’t consider this book as a best of…well, anything,  but I don’t think reading it is time wasted either.  It is interesting and touching, especially if you are a dog owner.

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2 Responses to “Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein”

  1. Kevin January 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    I would suspect being a dog owner would make the book more enjoyable. Even reading the summary “on the eve of his death” brought tears to my eyes since I know how hard it is to lose a beloved pet. But I still may try out this book.

    • Karen January 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

      Good! If you read it come back and tell me what you think!

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