The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein

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Well, everyone knows that cats are smarter than dogs. My own two cats, Miss Kitty and Mr. Biggles, are fluent in multiple languages, involved in international espionage, and have written many how-to books for the cat market. That’s what my husband and I say anyway. Garth Stein is obviously not a cat person – he’s a dog person through and through. The art of racing in the rain is narrated by Enzo, a dog belonging to the main character, Denny Swift, and by the end of it, trust me, you’ll be looking at dogs in a whole new way, even if you’re a die-hard cat person.

Enzo is a most philosophical dog, indeed. Different to other dogs in that he can speak, he is frustratingly unable to produce the words he wants, due to his dog-shaped mouth. He pines for an opposable thumb and thinks mankind is way off the mark thinking that the chimpanzee is his closest relative – obviously it is the dog. In presenting his case for this, he states the following concerning the werewolf:

The full moon rises. The fog clings to the lowest
branches of the spruce trees. The man steps out of the darkest corner of the
forest and finds himself transformed into…

A monkey?

I think not.

On the eve of his death, Enzo reflects back on his life and looks forward to the next. Being a TV addict and having watched a documentary once about dogs in Mongolia, he believes that ‘the next incarnation for a dog – a dog who is  ready to leave his dogness behind – is as a man.’ In fact, most of Enzo’s education has come from watching TV and videos of car racing. Denny is an up and coming career driver, and Enzo has developed a philosophy of life based on Denny’s imparted wisdom on race driving and driving in the rain.

Denny is Enzo’s hero, his inspiration and the centre of his universe. Through him, Enzo witnesses the bountiful fruits of compassion, loyalty and steadfastness. Battling with the evil twins, as Enzo calls them, because they dress the same
and obviously shared the same bottle of hair dye, Denny is forced into a nasty custody battle with his in-laws over his daughter Zoe. The parents of his deceased wife have no qualms about fighting dirty and, consequently, destroying Denny in the process.

This is a funny, sad and deeply heart-warming story. Enzo is a true champion. Be sure to have some Kleenex ready especially at the end. I made the mistake of finishing this one at work – red eyes on desk are not a good look.

Rosemary

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