Monday, June 20, 2011

The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein

Enzo is a dog. An old dog who knows his time has come. But he’s not afraid of the end, he is prepared for it. He wants his master to be unburdened by his existence. And he knows that he himself will be reincarnated as a human.  He learned it from a television documentary.

Before Enzo leaves this life he tells us the story of his life with his master, Denny, starting as the pup Denny selects from the litter. Enzo is a dog of the times, knowledgeable in many things as an ardent student of television.  But his love for race cars comes from Denny who aspires to be a great race driver and the rare occasion Enzo rides with him. But Enzo is an intent listener and knows all about the sport from Denny.

Their lives together include Denny’s marriage to Eve and the birth of their daughter, Zoë. Enzo’s relationship with Eve is a bit tentative but he takes his responsibility as protector of Zoë seriously. He is a very sophisticated dog and watches himself closely. 

A few years later tragedy comes into their lives when Eve is diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Denny is devastated but allows Eve's parents to persuade him to let them to care for and nurse her in their home.  He even, albeit reluctantly, agrees to Zoë living with them too, to be close to her mother in her final days.  Then shockingly, Eve’s parents demand custody of Zoë upon Eve’s death. 

Although Enzo obviously can’t know all that is happening in the legal arena, he tells it to the best of his ability, including his own antics to try to sway the outcome.  Dirt and dirty tricks are indeed at play during the three years of the custody fight.  

I recommend this book to anyone who has ever loved a dog.  Enzo is charming and truly delightful. His telling of the story made me both laugh and cry. If perhaps you are not a dog fan (gasp!), the story of Denny, Eve and Zoë is by itself worth reading despite the narrative being that of a dog.

I give this book five shots of five!


  1. Makes me wonder, "How would my dogs narrate the story of our lives together?" I do believe it is time for a re-read, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Have you checked into "A Dog's Purpose"? I started reading it several days ago, then got side-tracked. I believe it has received a considerable amount of press time.

  2. Is "A Dogs Purpose" the one that has a very similar cover except a black dog? I almost picked it up when I picked up The Sojourn. Instead I opted for another book by Garth Stein since I found his writing style very easy to read.

  3. Yes, it is a light blue cover with the top half of a black dog head on it. W. Bruce Cameron is the author. Not too far into it.

  4. Not only a great story, but a lots of ponderable thoughts. I made lots of notes but my favorite by far from this book:

    "Growing old is a pathetic thing. It is full of limitations and reduction. It happens to us all, I know; but I think that it might not have to. I think it happens to those of us who request it. And in our current mind-set, our collective ennui, it is what we have chosen to do."