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 extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.
Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, lie racing, isn’t simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through.
A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life…as only a dog could tell it.
The Art of Racing in the Rain is a particular favourite book of mine – how could it not be, it’s narrated by a dog! – and when it came up as the book chosen by my reading group I was chuffed as I had not read it for a while. I decided it would also be great to add to my 10 books of summer.
Narrated by Enzo the dog, we get his unique perspective on the events that occur in his owner, Denny’s, life.
For me, Garth perfectly captures the essence of the canine through his narration. Anyone who has ever owned a dog will know that they are more intelligent than we often give them credit for and are acute observers of us humans. They pick up on our body language, our moods, energy and our scents;
‘So much of language is unspoken. So much of language is comprised of looks and gestures and sounds that are not words. People are ignorant of the vast complexity of their own communication.’
Enzo talks about the strength of will and how we each control our own destiny, although I don’t necessarily believe this is always the case, Garth writes about it beautifully;
‘That which you manifest is before you.’
I have no interest in car racing, but the paragraphs about this in the book are great metaphors for life and how we deal with all it throws at us.
I could not help but fall in love with Enzo. His loyalty and devotion to Denny and his family, his concern and care for them and his humour make him very endearing. Denny is a character I empathise with deeply. He is stuck between a rock and a hard place and tries so hard do what is right for all concerned, despite the impact it has on him. As Enzo states;
‘I marvelled at them both; how difficult it must be to be a person. To continuously subvert your desire. To worry about doing the right thing, rather that doing what is most expedient.’
There are some truly heart breaking moments in this book that Garth writes with understanding and sensitivity. Have tissues ready when reading it as you will need them!
An insight into the psychology and complexity of human beings and a perspective on how we manage events given to us, that could only be captured by another species. The Art of Racing in the Rain never fails to move me. A beautiful book that will both break your heart and make you laugh, it will remain on my favourites list for a long time to come.
Published on 13 March 2009 by HarperCollins.