Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein

Title: The Art of Racing in the Rain
Author: Garth Stein
Date Finished: Nov 9, 2008 #65
Published: 2008 Pages: 354
Rating: 4/5

From the back cover (because I'm feeling particularly tired and lazy after a family get-together weekend):
"On the eve of his death, Enzo, a philospher dog with a nearly human soul and an obsession with opposable thumbs, takes stock on his life. He recalls all that he and the Swift family have been through: the sacrifices his master Denny has made to succeed as an up-and-coming race car driver; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny's wife; and the subsequent custody battle over their daughter, Zoe, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to perserve the Swift family, holding in his own heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoe at his side."

This was our November bookclub pick and at first I was a little reluctant to read it because there are so many other books on the shelf that I need to read first (December 31st is coming quicker than I originally thought!). But, I borrowed a copy from a friend and took it with me over the weekend and read it in a matter of hours (spread out over the weekend).

Overall I really enjoyed the book. I loved the first half of the book, especially the musings of Enzo who is a completely charming narrator. I can't remember the last book I read that was narrated by an animal, but Enzo really got me thinking about our own pets and how they might see the world--something I don't think about often, especially with our dog, Lexi. Lexi is a great dog and is always at my side (much to my husband's chagrin since she is technically his), but since she can't cuddle with me while I'm reading or purr in my ear or comfort me when I'm sad, I don't have the same connection with her that I do with Maggie. Rambling--sorry. :P

So, I really enjoyed the first half of the book. But then things started piling onto poor Denny, especially after his wife passes and her parents are suing Denny for custody of his daughter. I was really angry at how the events were unfolding and felt that they were coming too quickly and too heavy. And then they all just unraveled just as quickly (or maybe it was because I read the last third of the book in a single sitting). I was still really engrossed in the book, but I didn't like the heaviness of it. All of that aside, I would recommend the book. It is a great weekend read that doesn't require a whole lot of thought but at the same time contains interesting metaphors about racing cars and handling life. And can I say again how endearing and wonderful Enzo is as the narrator? Seriously--loved him. I really think animal lovers will appreciate and enjoy this book!

Well, since this is probably the worst book "review" I've written, I'll leave you with a picture of Lexi and hope that you forgive me. This was taken over the summer when we could not get her to stay out of the water at my dad's lakehouse. She LOVES water--had the same problem this weekend when we vacationed with Scott's parents at the lake.


26 comments:

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I have to admit that I'm a dog person much more than a cat person, but it has to be a smaller dog. Actually it has to be a Boston Bull Terrier, which we don't have but I'd like to have. But my husband thinks they're ugly. But I think they are adorable. Honestly, this book doesn't sound like my type but I liked your photo!

Michelle said...

Your dog is beautiful! I've been asking for a dog for 8 years and I'd want one just like Lexi!

bermudaonion said...

I've got this book on my wish list, so I appreciate your honest review. I love the picture of Lexi.

Diane said...

I listened to the audio version of this book, and just LOVED IT! The narrator, Enzo..LOL was fabulous. I am a cat person, but love all animals really. This is one of my favorite books read this year.

Your Lexi is adorable!

Trish said...

*Natasha - I think the Boston Terriers are cute but not the regular Bull Terriers. Even though Lexi is a lab, she is pretty small. This is a great weekend book--I didn't think it was my kind of book either but I still enjoyed it!

*Michelle - As I was telling Natasha, Lexi is great because she's really small. According to my husband she's an English Lab and they are shorter than American Labs? I don't really know if I believe him. :P I hope you can get your dog--labs are so great with kids!!

*Bermuda - If you're an animal lover I think you'll like this book. Even though this isn't my typical book choice, I really enjoyed it, especially the narration. I hope you enjoy it!

*Diane - This would be so much fun to listen to! I'm glad you liked it so much.

Joy said...

". . . narrated by an animal . . ." Ummm, this one won't be going on my TBR list. :) lol

And I love the picture of Lexi. She looks like she's having the time of her life!

Literary Feline said...

The last book I read that was narrated by an animal wasn't all that good. LOL I imagine it isn't all that easy to pull off effectively. I am glad it worked in this case though. I will have to keep an eye out for this one.

michellekae said...

I have never thought of a dog as a narrator let alone seeing the world from their eyes. Hopefully that doesn't make me a horrible dog owner.... Sounds interesting and I am sure that I will get to reading this especially since it is such a quick read. Lexi is so cute and looks like she is a spit fire!!!

Nymeth said...

I loved your rambling! I actually think that's part of the reason why I feel closer to my cats than to my dogs too (though I also love the dogs). But it's so much easier to spend those nice, peaceful moments with cats. The dogs want to play all the time, and as much fun as that is, I can't do it constantly.

Anyway, the book :P It sounds very interesting, and it's good to hear that the animal narrator works well. Sometimes those can turn out to be a bit artificial or forced, but I love books from the point of views of animals that are well done.

Chris said...

Aw, she's so cute!

Melody said...

I find it interesting on the dog being the narrator! Haven't read anything like this so I'd probably give it a try.

Love the pic of Lexi. :)

Trish said...

*Joy - Haha! If you don't like animal narrators, don't put this on the list. Lexi is having the time of her life--of course I think she would have been happier if I let her stay in the water.

*Literary Feline - Which was the last you read narrated by an animal? I can't think of any others I've read except kids books. I thought it worked for this book, though.

*Michelle - Definitely a quick read! I usually average about 30-40 pages an hour and easily did double with this one. What kind of dog do you have?

*Nymeth - glad you enjoyed the rambling...I probably could have gone on and on. :) I think the big thing for me is the cuddling. I've tried with the dog, but she just doesn't get it! :P And in terms of the book--even though the book was a bit kitschy, the dog narrator worked, I thought.

*Chris - Thank you! I'll let her know you think so. :)

*Melody - It's a great lazy weekend book--nothing too deep but still interesting. Lexi doesn't really like the camera, so this is one of the better shots I have of her.

Literary Feline said...

The book I read that was narrated by a dog was I, Tutus. Although technically, you could say it was narrated by a human who was reminiscing about his past life as a dog during ancient times. It was all from the dog's perspective.

Debi said...

Oh my, you silly, silly girl! This was a lovely review! You definitely sold me on the book. But even so, I sure am glad you shared the picture of Lexi...she's such a beautiful girl!

Bellezza said...

I think Lexi's just wonderful! What a smile she has!! And, it's amazing that she's a Swimming Dog. Henry is definitely NOT a Swimming Dog, alas, but we still take him to the lake with us when we go. He watches us play in the water from afar... ;)

Melody said...

Trish, I tagged you for a bookish meme... I hope you'll play. :)

Anna said...

I thought your review was great! I'm intrigued by the dog as narrator. Lexi is a beautiful dog!

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Dar said...

Trish, I thought this was a great review-the rambling is very personal-I like that. You know my dog is awesome when I'm sad. He licks up my tears and keeps licking until I have to laugh at him. Then he plops himself up against my tummy, lays his head a little further up and watches me. He's a huge comfort. I like all animals though-if I could afford it I'd have a houseful of them. I may have to read this book some day-sounds like one I may like.

michellekae said...

I actually have three dogs. Two are Japanese Chins and one is a corgie. I even have a black cat. Talk about a zoo!

Trish said...

*Lit Feline - Haven't heard of it but it does sound unusual. Reincarnation comes up in this book as well.

*Debi - I'll pass on the word to Lexi--I'm sure she's blushing. :) And thank you--I hope you like this one.

*Bellezza - Lexi is a very good swimmer and loves the water--we have to be really careful when we are around water because she'll jump in without hesitation! What kind of dog is Henry?

*Melody - Tagged again! LOL--I'll do it sometime this week, especially since you're the third to tag me for this one. Just haven't gotten around to it yet, but I don't think I'll be finishing a book anytime soon so this will give me something to post. :P

*Anna - Thank you. *blushes* It seems weird to have an animal narrate, but it worked well with this book.

*Dar - I'm a rambler...no doubt about that. Buddy sounds like such a great dog!! I think if we ever get another dog it will be a small one that can be a cuddler. Lexi would like to be a lap dog, but she's a little too big for that!

*Michelle - Oh my goodness! I had to look up what Japanese Chins look like, but how adorable! You should post some pictures!!

Veens said...

I dnt think it is that bad a review ! COME on! :)
I also have a dog- and I love love DOGS...

i really would lov to read this one!
"_"

and your doggy is so sweet :)

Jeane said...

Something about your description made me think this book would be like Sight Hound or Dogs of Babylon (which I have on my TBR but not read yet). I'll have to consider this one- I liked books from the animals' point of view. What a great picture. Lexi has the best doggie smile!

Bookfool said...

Lexi's a cutie! She looks so happy!

Trish said...

*Veens - What kind of dog do you have? I do like dogs but not as much as I love cats. Oh well. I hope you like this one!

*Jeane - I haven't read either of those but I think I've heard of Dogs of Babylon. If you like books for the animal's POV, I think you'd like this one!

*Bookfool - Awwww, thank you. :) She is a very happy dog.

Book Zombie (Joanne) said...

Lexi is a beauty! I have 2 dogs and a cat, but my cat is such a queen, she prefers to only be cuddled when she feels like it, otherwise she will swat you :)
Usually it's my dogs who curl up with me when I'm reading, they love that I will rub their bellies absentmindedly while I read.
Art Of Racing was such a great book, I do agree that the custody issue got a bit too emphasized at some parts. But overall I found it very touching. I like to think our own pets have inner monologues like Enzo.

Trish said...

Joanne - what kind of dogs do you have? If we had a little lapdog, I would love cuddling with them, but Lexi just doesn't get it. :)