The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Though there has been a proliferation of “my life with my dog” books since the wonderful Marley and Me, The Art of Racing in the Rain is entirely different – though no less captivating. Told from the perspective of a dog, Enzo, this novel could easily have been titled Zen and the Art of Racing in the Rain. It is a serious treatment of what it means to believe in your dreams and yourself when everything around you seems determined to bring you down.
Enzo’s owner is an aspiring race car driver, Denny, whose young wife becomes terminally ill. Before long, everything begins careening out of his control. His wife dies while he is away, his young daughter is being held by his in-laws ”for her own good” as they sue for permanent custody, he gets charged, falsely, with an attempt to molest a minor, he loses his house in order to pay an attorney (both to help him regain custody and to defend him against the spurious charges), and his one big dream of becoming a serious race car driver is now seeming impossible.
Enzo, who loves watching race car videos with Denny and who, in one truly exhilarating scene, actually gets to run the track with him, knows that there is much in the art of racing that could save Denny – if only he could get his floppy dog tongue to speak! One of the reasons Denny has caught the eye of the racing world is that he is a brilliant racer in all conditions – even in the rain – a condition that derails so many in the sport.
The reason for his success? As Enzo tells it, is because Denny subscribes to the belief that “that which is manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny.” In essence, that if we believe and even become one with what we see and what we believe to be our destiny, we can make it happen. Hence the title – Denny is able to become one with the car, with the track, with the environment, with the rain and create a winning destiny.
If only Enzo could help Denny apply this same philosophy to fight the forces against him and ensure the positive outcomes that he deserves. The book is not just one of hope; it is one of belief, and it is stronger for it. This is an engrossing story that will have you contemplating your own life philosophy as you move through its pages and long after you close its covers.
HarperCollins; ISBN 978-0-0615-3796-7; $14.99.
The Art of Racing in the Rain: Reading Guide