Oh you guys… here’s another good one for you! Another recommendation from my book-loving coworker, and she didn’t disappoint! I read “The Art of Racing in the Rain” bits and pieces at first, more due to being preoccupied with other things rather than lack of interest. But I found myself with some free time today, and polished it off… greedy word after greedy word, needing to know what was going to happen.
On page one, the reader immediately steps into the observant thoughts of Enzo. It takes a second before you realize that this narrator happens to be…a dog. A very sophisticated, brash, and intelligent dog at that. Enzo reflects upon his life, and in tandem, a significant era in the life of Denny, his master.
Enzo begins life with Denny as a puppy, and as he reaches adulthood, finds himself watching Denny marry a woman named Eve, and raising their daughter Zoë. But as Denny works towards a career in speed racing, Eve learns she’s got a terminal illness. Leaving Zoë and Enzo in the center of the confusion and drama that follows, all Enzo can do is observe his humans as they struggle to keep their family together. When the illness finally takes Eve, Enzo also bears witness to the aftermath as Eve’s parents and Denny feud for custody of Zoë.
Woven throughout his story, Enzo philosophizes on the history and traditions of ancient dog, speed racing, medicine, and weather. He also gives the reader idioms to ponder such as “The car goes where the eyes go,” and “No race has ever been won in the first corner; many have been lost there.” Throughout the novel, Enzo also refers to his human-like qualities, and how he hopes that at the end of his life, he will be reincarnated into a human to someday express these qualities; such as his ability to listen, his love for racing, and his compassion for mankind. He also hopes that someday, his human form will be able to reconnect with his old master and let him know that “Enzo says “hi”.”
It’s a heart wrenching story on so many levels. As an animal person, I love how Stein put the reader into the mind of a dog, and in my opinion did it well without overdosing on the anthropomorphism. I love how he displayed the loyalty and unspeakable bond between human and dog. And I love how at the end of it all, Enzo got his wish.
Definitely a must read.