Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein
published by HarperCollins
original publication: 2008
size: 219KB (338 pages)
categories: literary fiction
lending: not enabled
simultaneous device licenses: six
part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: no
real page numbers: yes
Whispersync for Voice: yes ($3.95 at time of writing, audiobook read by Christopher Evan Welch)
“People are always worried about what’s happening next. They often find it difficult to stand still, to occupy the now without worrying about the future. People are not generally satisfied with what they have; they are very concerned with what they are going to have.”
The world is a terrible place, people are horribly cruel, and even being born a dog is a soul-crushing tragedy.
That was largely the message I got from The Art of Racing in the Rain. I knew before I finished the first chapter that my Significant Other shouldn’t read it…it would simply be too sad.
I know that some of you probably like that kind of book, and if so, this not poorly written (although I found it heavy-handed in places). In fact, with over 2,100 reviews at Amazon, it averages 4.6 stars out of 5.
The primary conceit here is that the story is told by a dog. I love animals, and have owned many dogs, and yes, we sometimes speak for them in the family (“Klein thinks that’s ridiculous”).
However, the realism of the book being in a dog’s voice is really undercut by the dog, Enzo, having basically human intelligence. Enzo watches a lot of television, and understands complex metaphysical concepts…and has a string of favorite actors.
In fact, Enzo basically is a human in a dog’s body…and knows it. This dog isn’t just lacking thumbs and the capability of speech: they are losses, as though they had been taken away, and we are reminded of that often.
The other narrative device is making everything an analogy to car racing. Enzo knows all the great racers, and Denny, who Enzo calls his “master”, is a racer. Don’t worry, though: you don’t have to be a racing fan to understand it, in a way similar to you not having to be a dog person to understand Enzo. The author is careful to explain everything to you.
Mainly, though, the book is tragedy after tragedy…to the point where both Sophocles and Ingmar Bergman might have told the author to lighten up a little.
That said, I can see how people would consider this one of their favorite books. If you like the idea of persevering against unfair odds, this one could appeal to you.
I was interested in the book, and I looked forward to getting to the next part…although I was also happy when it was over.
Overall, I’d say I just wasn’t a good fit for this book. If you are, you probably would be more willing to allow for the stretches in story-telling that are used to support the feel of the book, maybe in the way that I have a “willing suspension of disbelief” when reading a fantasy.
I always try to give you both an idea of how I felt about the book, and, more importantly, an idea of whether or not you’d like it. I hope I’ve done that here.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.