The Art of Racing in the Rain by Gareth Stein was originally published in 2008, and friends have been recommending it to me ever since.
The story centers around a race car driver named Denny and his dog, Enzo. Enzo is the narrator, observing everything that happens around him and sharing what he wishes he could express in words. The more I read, the more it got me thinking about what must go through Scout's mind on a daily basis living with me!
Enzo is by Denny's side when he's single, when he meets his wife Eve, when they welcome their daughter Zoe and when Eve's health takes a dark turn.
As Eve declines, her parents step in, wanting full custody of Zoe. Enzo takes in all these conversations and tries to make sense of what's being discussed. His musings are part child-like, part detective.
I don't want to give away too much, because you should absolutely read this. The concept of an entire story from a dog's perspective could be easy to dismiss, but Stein does it so cleverly that it feels more like an honest account of the human condition.
I wanted to share one excerpt. On page 62, Enzo is taking stock of Eve's deterioration:
"The intense and arbitrary nature of Eve's affliction was far beyond Denny's grasp. The wailings, the dramatic screaming fits, the falling on the floor in fits of anguish. These are things that only dogs and women understand because we tap into pain directly from its source, and so it is at once brilliant and brutal and clear, like white-hot metal spraying out of a fire hose, we can appreciate the aesthetic while taking the worst of it straight in the face. Men, on the other hand, are all filters and deflectors and timed release. For men, it's like athlete's foot: spray the special spray on it, they say, and it goes away. They have no idea that the manifestation of their affliction - the fungus between their hairy toes - is merely a symptom, an indication of a systemic problem . . . Go see a doctor, he said to her. Get some medication. And she howled at the moon in reply."
See? So much more than just a book from a dog's point of view. The writing is beautiful.
A warning to dog owners / dog lovers: I am certain you will cry during the final two chapters. Have some tissues close by!
Now that I have finished the book, I am eager to watch the film adaptation. Milo Ventimiglia plays Denny, Amanda Seyfried plays Eve, and Enzo is voiced by Kevin Costner. The movie isn't on Netflix or Hulu, but is available for purchase on Amazon Prime.
*Image courtesy of Press & Journal.