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The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel by…
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The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Garth Stein

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5,643415755 (4.08)300
Member:jmchshannon
Title:The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel
Authors:Garth Stein
Info:Harper Perennial (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 321 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (Author) (2008)

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Showing 1-5 of 410 (next | show all)
Nearing the end of his life, Enzo is hopeful that in his next life, he’ll reborn as a human. After all, he’s different from other dogs. In preparation for this, he has taken a great deal of care to educate himself on the way humans live, by watching TV and listening to the way that the members of his human family communicate. As Enzo reflects over his life and the tragedies that befell Denny after the loss of his wife Eve, he decides that he is ready to move on, even though it will pain his master to lose his best friend.

I’m not a dog person, but I really enjoy Enzo. Enzo is an entertaining narrator. Despite his best efforts, he can’t escape his essential doggy nature, and this colors every aspect of the story. But Enzo is also a philosopher, a dog who has spent his entire life meditating on what it is to be human. He deeply believes in a Mongolian legend he once heard that claimed a dog that is prepared will be born as a human in its next life. It’s shaped his way of thinking and making decisions. Enzo’s affection and loyalty to Denny is utterly heart-warming.

The sweetness of Enzo is needed, because Denny’s life totally sucks. First, his wife gets brain cancer, and dies after several horrible months. Then her parents, who have never liked Denny, start a custody battle for Denny’s daughter. She’s taken away, and Denny is charged with a crime that he didn’t commit. As his life spirals out of control, and every cent he owns goes to trying to get his daughter back, Denny needs Enzo at his side.

Denny drives race cars for a living, and his love of the sport permeates every page. His philosophy about racing has deeply influenced Enzo, too, and the dog frequently spouts little truisms he’s picked up from his master. It’s cute, and really ties the story together.

I was surprised by how much I liked this book. I don’t like dogs, for one; for two, I’m really not interested in cars or racing. Yet Stein is such a great writer that he makes both dogs and racing and custody battles absolutely riveting. I could not put this book down. ( )
  makaiju | Nov 16, 2014 |
I always seem to pick books in groupings that have unexpected similarities. I went through a stack that had several first-person narrative coming-of-age stories recently. The most recent stack finished off with first-person narratives from unusual narrators – first, I heard from death in [The Book Thief] and then I heard from Enzo, the dog in [The Art of Racing in the Rain]. Sadly, I’m saying the same thing about both of these books – there was something there, some good writing and some good storytelling, but the gimmick overcame both.

Enzo is Labrador who lives Denny Swift, and as the book opens, he is nearing the end of his dog-life and looking forward to being reborn as a human. Denny is a knock-about race driver who is battling with his in-laws for the custody of his daughter after the death of his wife. All of Denny’s trials are told through Enzo’s perspective.

Again, I know that there is a glut of books clambering for the attention of relatively few publishers in today’s world. And it behooves unknown writers to grab an editor’s attention. Choosing such an unusual narrator as a dog is a great way to push you way into publication. I can think of only one other author who has pulled this off – Jack London in [The Call of the Wild]. So, Garth Stein starts from a place where nearly no other author has started, and it meant that he was able to find a publisher for his debut novel. And the book stands in a market that is wildly popular – people love their dogs in a way that defies explanation. But the gimmick shouldn’t be what is remembered. What I remember about [The Call of the Wild] is the adventure and danger, not that the book is from a dog’s perspective. If fact, London softened the narrative in a way that makes it readable without feeling like you’re reading from a dog’s perspective. But Stein, and the folks who published/marketed the book embrace the doggishness of the story completely.

I’m not saying that I know for certain that Stein chose the narrator of his book to get attention because I don’t. What I’m saying is that the book feels like he fell in love with the idea more as the book progressed. There is some good writing – I especially liked the passage where Enzo’s destruction of a stuffed zebra is explained by Enzo’s ability to see a dark spirit living in the thing. I liked the idea that Enzo knew things that couldn’t be seem by others and that he couldn’t communicate to anyone. But Stein works too hard to maintain the dog’s voice in the story and it grows stale over time.

There is some better-than-average writing about the racing world, but that is one of the places where the dog’s understanding and storytelling push the boundaries too far. Dog owners and lovers always attribute a beyond-human comprehension to their dogs, but I am dubious about Enzo’s expertise on racing in the rain. People can learn a lot from dogs, really from the animal world and nature as a whole, if they try. But I’m not sure that Stein represents the natural world so well in his story.

Bottom Line: Gimmicky with a couple of flashes of something.

3 bones!!!!! ( )
  blackdogbooks | Nov 9, 2014 |
Poor first half, enloyed the second half. 2.5-3 ( )
  bkmeredith | Oct 23, 2014 |
As a dog lover, I really enjoyed this book. I particularly liked the book because it was written from the dog's point of view. The book portrays the relationship between a dog and his owner / family really well. As I was reading the book, there were many points or instances that I could relate to. It was a very heartwarming book and I highly recommend it. ( )
  jlee1287 | Sep 20, 2014 |
This book was great. The racing references were hard to follow since I'm not a fan but it worked because most of the time they were used as metaphors for life (very Zen like). I loved the point of view coming from a dog, seems like a lot of books are coming out like that, or maybe I'm just reading them now. The story itself was a typical heartwarming life story but the meaning of life metaphors told from a dog's point of view made it very enjoyable. ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 410 (next | show all)
Fans of Marley & Me, rejoice.
added by cmwilson101 | editEntertainment Weekly
 
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.
added by cmwilson101 | editPublisher's Weekly
 
“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.”
added by cmwilson101 | editAmazon.com, Wally Lamb
 

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stein, GarthAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Welch, Christopher EvanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"With your mind power, your determination, your instinct and the experience as well, you can fly very high." - Ayrton Senna
Dedication
For Muggs
First words
Gestures are all that I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature.
Quotations
To live every day as if it had been stolen from death, that is how I would like to live. (pg 160; first harper paperback published 2009) ~ Enzo~

She died that night. Her last breath took her soul, I saw it in my dream. I saw her soul leave her body as she exhaled, and then she had no more needs, no more reason; she was released from her body, and, being released, she continued her journey elsewhere, high in the firmament where soul material gathers and plays out all the dreams and joys of which we temporal beings can barely conceive, all the things that are beyond our comprehension, but even so, are not beyond our attainment if we choose to attain them, and believe that we truly can.

In Monglolia, when a dog dies, he is buried high in the hills so people cannot walk on his grave. The dog's master whispers into the dog's ear his wishes that the dog will return as a man in his next life. Then his tail is cut off and put beneath his head, and a piece of meat or fat is placed in his mouth to sustain his soul on its journey; before he is reincarnated, the dog's soul is freed to travel the land, to run across the high desert plains for as long as it would like.
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Disambiguation notice
"The Art of Racing in the Rain" and "Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog" are two different books. Please do not combine them. One is a young adult book  ("Racing in the Rain: My life as a Dog"), the other is an adult book of the same story "The Art of Racing in the Rain".  As the "Racing in the Book" puts it: "This is a special adaptation for young people of the acclaimed New York Times bestselling adult novel The Art of Racing in the Rain."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061537969, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:47 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Nearing the end of his life, Enzo, a dog with a philosopher's soul, tries to bring together the family, pulled apart by a three year custody battle between daughter Zoe's maternal grandparents and her father Denny, a race car driver.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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