“But what I’ve always liked best is when he talks about having no memory. No memory of things he’d done just a second before. Good or bad. Because memory is time folding back on itself. To remember is to disengage from the present.”
Title: The Art of Racing in the Rain
Author: Garth Stein
Date of Publication: 2009
It rarely happens that I read a book and cannot decide whether I love it or not. The Art of Racing in the Rain left me unsure. Don’t get me wrong, the story is compelling, the characters are likeable, and the book is written in a clear, comprehensible English (which alone could merit praise, for so many “bestsellers” lack clarity and even basic sentence structure). Yet, I can’t shake the feeling that something is missing, and it drives me crazy for I want to love this book so much!
The story is narrated by a dog, Enzo. Although I have a soft spot for animals and believe them to be much more intelligent than we will ever know, it seemed to me at times that this particular dog is privy to information that even some men would find hard to comprehend. Beside that, Enzo regularly reminds us that he cannot understand or explain things perfectly, because he is only a dog. This recurring admission was somewhat bothersome and it stopped the natural flow of the narration. Yet, I love Enzo! He is everything a dog should be, or is generally associated with: loyal, protective, sapient.
Denny, Enzo’s owner, is a racing car driver, and his skill is most evident when he has to race in the rain. Hence the title. I’m personally not that great at driving *wiping the dust off my driving licence* nor am I a fan of Formula 1 or auto races in general, the allegory of racing, however, still appeals to me. The novel could also appear by the title The Art of Living in the Hardest of Times, but Garth Stein uses car racing as the equivalent of living.
“If I intentionally make the car do something, then I can predict what it’s going to do. In other words, it’s only unpredictable if I’m not… possessing… it.”
“So you spin the car before the car spins itself?” she asked.
“That’s it! If I initiate the action – if I get the car a little loose – then I know it’s going to happen before it happens. Then I can react to it before even the car knows what’s happening.”
So, anyone who would be originally discouraged from picking up this novel by the fact that the narrator is of the canine species, have no fear. It may be Enzo who’s telling the story but the plot pretty much revolves around humans. The novel contains everything one may experience in a family: illness, false accusation, separation, financial issues but also love, joy and loyalty. Our dear Denny is an awesome guy who suffers much (sometimes you would like to give the poor man a hug) but he’s a role model, for he never gives up.
As for that missing element, I still have no idea what it is. It might have been only my frame of mind when I was reading the book, for I really cannot put my finger on anything in particular. Moreover, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy and read other novels of Garth Stein, and I am all in favour of creating a movie adaptation of this one.
All in all, The Art of Racing in the Rain was a good read and I would definitely recommend it, especially to fans of A Dog’s Purpose. (Warning: If you tend to get emotional, have a tissue box at hand.)
How did you find this book? Do you like to read stories narrated by animals?
Feel free to sound your opinion in the comment section below 😉