Aside

Enzo, the Philosopher – The Art of Racing in the Rain

I run a book club at the library on Thursday evenings and, in preparation for it last year, I asked friends for book recommendations. One of my best friends recommended The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein and I am so glad that she did! It is told from the perspective of a dog named Enzo who, while he lies dying in the arms of his owner Denny, reflects on his life with him, his wife Eve and their daughter Zoë.

Racing in the Rain

Here’s the book flap’s description of the book, if you’re interested:

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television and listening carefully to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Now in his twilight years, Enzo finds himself thinking back on his life with the Swift family, reflecting on all he has learned about the human condition and how life, like racing, is about so much more than simply going fast.

 

The Art of Racing in the Rain is at once maddening, captivating and poignant. Every so often I come across a book that I need to let settle before I move onto the next – this is one of those rare books. The voice of Enzo is brilliant and moving. Enzo made me want to get a dog more than ever and made me miss my childhood dogs, Sasha and Sailor.

A book about determination, love, justice, and reality – it highlights that the greatest triumph often comes after a long and hard battle. As Enzo (or should I say Stein) puts it: “I watched Denny…feeling the relief, the release, knowing that another path might have been easier for him to travel, but that it couldn’t possibly have offered a more satisfying conclusion.” Furthermore, Stein demonstrates that none of us, good or evil, is impervious to grief and tragedy. After all, the sun rises on both the evil and the good and rain falls on the just and unjust alike.

This was a great book, which I would recommend especially to dog-lovers. I cried, I laughed, I was enraged (seriously, I threw the book across the room at one point!). I have nothing negative to say. The narration was wonderful – Enzo is a truly intelligent and oddly believable character, considering he is a dog. I became so invested in the characters that when an injustice happened, I had to remind myself that those who cause the injustice are not real people and therefore I cannot punch them in the face. If I was a dog I’d drop a mother lode* on their squeaky clean floors (which I’m happy to report Enzo did for me).
So, with that said, I’d rate this book a happy 5 out of 5!

*Click on mother lode for a fun fact!

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