Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain
Author: Garth Stein
HarperCollins, 2008
336 pages

A couple of weeks ago, I went to my apartment building's office to pick up a package. While I was waiting for the leasing agent to finish up with a potential renter, a young man entered the office. He was carrying a book. I notice these things. It was The Art of Racing in the Rain. I overheard the young man say it was one of the best books he's ever read. I really noticed that.

I picked up the free sample on my Kindle, thinking this was probably not for me, but I was curious. I was hooked after just reading a few sentences. The narrator of book is Enzo, a dog (Labradoodle, if I remember correctly) looking back on his life. Enzo really wants to be a human. He's spent quite a bit of time watching television, and he's very smart. I love this dog!

Enzo recalls his early days on a farm in Washington state, and lovingly recounts his first meeting with the man who would become his best friend. Denny is a would-be race car driver who knows the art of racing in the rain (there's a lot of auto racing "philosophy" in the book - for that reason it should appeal to a wider variety of readers). As Denny goes through life's changes (marriage, fatherhood, ups and downs - including some really BIG ups and downs), Enzo is right there with him. All the way. Did I say I love this dog? I think you'll fall in love with him, too.

You'll also fall in love with Denny. He's such a gentleman, and a really good guy, which seems so rare in fiction. There are times when you'll probably want to punch someone on his behalf, yet you know that Denny wouldn't want you to punch them.

I really did like this book. The only problem I had was the ending. That's no fault of the author or the characters. You see, books don't normally make me cry. I can only think of one other time this has happened. But I had a near meltdown at the end of this book. So if you read it, get some tissues!