The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
Genre: Fiction; Dogs; Philosophy
Summary: Enzo, race car driver Denny’s pet dog, isn’t your average canine. While most dogs are content to run and play, Enzo is convinced that he is a human trapped in a dog’s body, and if he does everything right in this life, he will be reincarnated back into a human in his next life. The Art of Racing in the Rain, told from Enzo’s perspective, recounts the history of Enzo’s life and that of his family’s in a way that only a dog can do.
Review: There are two types of people in this world: cat lovers and dog lovers. I am unquestionably in the dog lovers' camp, so when I discovered that The Art of Racing in the Rain was told from a dog’s point of view, I knew I had to read it. After all, what could be better than a furry, cuddly, loyal narrator? In all honesty, however, I’m still not quite sure how I feel about The Art of Racing in the Rain, but if forced to give an opinion, I guess it would have to be a solid ‘meh,’ as I could truly take or leave this book.
One of the fundamental problems for me was the narrator, Enzo. “What?” you say. “I thought you were looking forward to a book being told from a dog’s perspective!” Yes, I was, indeed, excited for this book, but a lot of the stuff that occurred therein really didn’t make a ton of sense to me. For example, how could Enzo have all of these deep, philosophical thoughts, but then get confused by uncomplicated things that, being as smart as he was, should have been easy for him to understand? Telling the story from Enzo’s perspective also seemed a bit cheesy and forced at times, but that could have been from the inconsistencies in Enzo’s thoughts, as mentioned above.
Aside from the problems of narration, The Art of Racing in the Rain did a number of things rather well. The human condition was explored in a rather perceptive way, and the insights made throughout rang true to life. I also thought the themes of friendship, loyalty, family, and unconditional love were touched upon in a way that really got to the core of what it means to be human, in addition to exposing the relationships between humans and their pets. Towards the end of the book, I was almost in tears because of the events therein, and that’s really saying something because I’m not an emotional person at all.
While I didn’t love The Art of Racing in the Rain, if you like dogs and you’re looking for a text that has a bit of philosophy, you might enjoy this book.