Book Reviews Books for Adults

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

6 of 10: The Art of Racing in the Rain was a faster read than I was expecting, but not one I’d necessarily recommend. A little too much swearing for me, and also the main character was a dog. And I, um, don’t really love animals.

This was the September book for Tell Me What to Read. I requested it right away, but it took me a while to open it. When Bart and I went down to DC for the National Book Festival, I read the entire thing on the two plane flights. It was, obviously, quick read.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from this book, but my initial expectations weren’t very accurate. 

The book is all told from the dog’s point of view. His name is Enzo and he lives with his owner, a young guy named Denny. Denny is a race car driver trying to make a name for himself, while working at a car repair place to pay the bills. Enzo is crazy about racing, too, watching it alone at home on the television while Denny is gone at work.

Enzo’s life changes a lot, though, when Denny gets married and he and his new wife have a baby. Life, as it usually does, isn’t what they expected and some things are much more difficult than anticipated. Denny’s wife, Eve, gets ill, a fact that Enzo discovers far earlier than the humans find out. And that’s just the beginning – it’s a bit like Gone With the Wind, where you think “WHAT MORE CAN POSSIBLY HAPPEN?” And, I’m not saying this book is the next Gone With the Wind.

Enzo also believes that he’ll be reincarnated as a human after his dog life is over and he looks forward to being able to read, to speak, and to having thumbs (the thumbs is the biggest thing for him). He feels like he understands humans pretty well and is constantly frustrated by his inability to communicate very well with them. 

I don’t know – this book was more interesting than I thought it’d be, considering it was about a DOG (I’m sorry, all you mega-animal lovers; I just don’t get it), but it also never gripped me. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters and the book had a bit of a grungy, depressing feel that made me slightly uncomfortable.

Has anyone else read this? What did you think? 

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17 Comments

  • Reply Shelly October 6, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    I haven't read this book, but I'm going to go ahead and join you on the pet-narrated thing. That would not thrill me. I'm not a big pet person either. Sorry.

  • Reply Packrat October 6, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    To each their own on the pet thing, but you really are missing out on a whole "nother" level of having unconditional love in your life. I will say that with all the traveling you do, having a pet probably isn't a good idea.

  • Reply Packrat October 6, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    PS – I'm not scolding you, but I do feel sad for you. On the bright side, I'll take care of the extras for you. 🙂

  • Reply Sherry October 6, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    I'm with you on the pets.

    Also, racecar driving? I'd rather lie on the floor and watch a ceiling fan.

  • Reply Sherry October 6, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Although, racecar is a palindrome, so I will give credit for that at least.

  • Reply Lisa October 6, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    I am an animal lover and I can't scrounge up a bit of interest for this one. Talking animals? Unless it is non-fiction, I will pass.

  • Reply Elizabeth October 6, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Yep, I read it, and it did nothing to change my opinion that books and movies and blogs from the point of view of a dog are just not for me.

  • Reply Kimberly October 6, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Ok, I love dogs, but I'm not sure I would get it either. Have you ever read Watership Down, though? It's a bit weird too, but compelling. Silly rabbits.

  • Reply Katie October 6, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Just finished it a few nights ago and I didn't really love it either.

    And I LOVE dogs

    It just never really packed the punch I thought it should have…

  • Reply Yankee Girl October 6, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Oh My Goodness!!!!

    I've just finished part II of Catching Fire and I just had to say that to someone and you were a natural choice. I'm booked up until about 8:30 or 9 tonight and I can hardly stand it.

    Sorry for digressing away from the pet theme going on–don't like pets much myself as they tend to shed and smell funny.

  • Reply Kimberly F. October 7, 2009 at 12:36 am

    I was not at all a pet person until about a year ago, when I met my sister in law's dog Toby and then I just wanted to kidnap him for myself. I didn't like how they smelled, would poo everywhere, needed constant attention, shed hair, made everything dirty, and I especially didn't like how people seemed to look down on me and think I wasn't a good person because I didn't really like pets or animals in general! It's so odd that I've been converted, but it's only for dogs, and not all of them for sure.

    The book – I'd pick it up if it didn't sound depressing.

  • Reply Trish October 7, 2009 at 2:26 am

    I think I liked this one better than you did, but I REALLY appreciate your review. Everyone loves this book and raves over it and really I just don't get why.

    I also don't really like talking animals. Even if those animals can only hear themselves.

  • Reply Katie October 7, 2009 at 10:03 am

    I usually agree about canine main characters and rarely have any inclination to read anything that even features animals in a prominent role in the story. However, if you are looking for a dog book, you might give Cracker by Cynthia Kadohata a try. It's told from the p.o.v. of Cracker, a German Shepard (also, my least favorite breed of dog – actually quite frightened by them) who is sent to Vietnam to participate in the war. What an amazing story! You learn a lot about the war, particularly about an aspect that many are unaware of.

  • Reply Heather October 7, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    I haven't read this book, but if you want to read a really great example of pet narration that works, the chapters in The Story of Edgar Sawtelle written from the dog's perspective were beautiful and extremely poignant. They were my favorite parts of that book.

  • Reply Peaceful Reader October 8, 2009 at 1:26 am

    I have this one and my book club plans on reading in about two months. I'm glad you liked it and it is a quick read.

  • Reply Stephanie October 8, 2009 at 6:20 am

    I haven't read this book, but I know a lot of people that just loved it. Glad to see a slightly different perspective!

  • Reply Erin December 31, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    I wasn't over the top over this book. My friends were. I wanted to ask them what in the world they were thinking warning me repeatedly that the dog dies but it's okay because he gets to be human in the end without warning me that the MOTHER dies and the grandparents steal her child. I guess I'm not that much of a dog person either. I was also left wondering once again if it's just me or if male authors seem to feel duty bound to sprinkle profanity and fairly explicit sexuality into their writing. I find it a little embarassing and rather unnecessary.

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