Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Nobody really needs me to weigh in on this one--it was a Book Sense pick and then Starbucks picked it as a title for sale throughout their zillion stores and it's become a huge bestseller so you've probably heard of it or read it or thought about doing so. I say, hell yeah, do it. It's wonderful.

Often I'm too much of a snob to even read a blockbuster bestseller but don't let this conceit stop you
. It ain't Tolstoy but I didn't set out to read Tolstoy (actually, I've never read Tolstoy, though I've nothing against him. I just haven't gotten to him yet). Still need an endorsement from ol' Reed Next? I cried in the first eight pages and devoured the book from there. 'Nuff said.

I will say I was reluctant to read a book with a dog as a narrator. A few years back, there seemed to be a mess of 'em--King by John Berger and the efforts of the protagonist of Dogs of Babel to make his dog talk, etc. It just seemed so gimmicky and every publisher was publishing their "talking dog" books. Feh! Sure, sometimes I think it'd be great if my dog could talk but that's part of her appeal, too. She can't speak and yet we can communicate in other ways and that's one of the reasons we're friends. That's probably why
I absolutely loved Enzo and wish he were my friend.

There are times when the book gets a little melodramatic but these instances are forgivable. The relationship Enzo and Denny have is so honest and Enzo's own musings--his love of television, his desire for opposable thumbs, his belief in reincarnation--are just delightful. His perspective is so genuine and funny and though we'll never know what our dogs really think and feel, I want to believe Stein gets it right.

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