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


Sometimes a book is perfect.  It might just be that the book hits you when you were just really in the mood to read.  Or maybe the topic is something dear to your heart.  Or maybe you just really like the style.  Or maybe it’s all of the above.  Garth Stein’s wonderful The Art of Racing in the Rain hit that sweet spot for me over the weekend, and I read it in two days (less that 24 hours), while I was supposed to be hanging out with my in-laws at a family retreat.  I really wasn’t feeling very well, and needed to be sitting somewhere that I could rest.  And so I read.  And I read.

As you can see by the cover of this book, it’s about a dog.  Actually, it’s not really about a dog; it’s told by a dog – Enzo – about his master, Denny Swift, a semi-pro racecar driver in Seattle, who has hit a rough patch of road.  But Enzo is there, as more than just man’s best friend.  Trapped in a dog’s body, unable to speak, and only capable of basic gestures, he must do what he can to comfort Denny and save his family.  It’s a wonderful story you will not be able to put down.  It’s not ‘Old Yeller’.  It’s philosophy and religion and life and love and legacy.  And even if you are not a fan of either dogs or racing, you will ‘get it’.  And it will make you cry.  If you dare to read this in a public place, be prepared for that.

I had briefly heard about this book prior to hearing Bill Kenower of Author  Magazine rave about it at the March PNWA meeting.  I picked it up the next weekend while grocery shopping, not really knowing much about the story, but knowing the story behind it was interesting.  Apparently Mr. Stein had some issues getting an agent to represent this book because, well it’s “From a dog’s perspective”.  But he finally found the right agent, and now the book is a New York Times Best Seller and translated in 30+ languages.  I’d bet those other agents who turned it down are slapping their foreheads now.

Sometimes I’ll be a little suspicious of books  that get ‘too popular’.  Maybe my tastes don’t follow with popular trends, or I’m a little more of a harsh critic for books that get too much praise.  But I don’t think you could heap too much praise on this one.  It’s truly one of the great books to have been published in the last few years, and something I think everyone should read.  Buy it.  Enjoy it.  Tell your friends.

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