What happens when a very smart dog learns about the human world through his interactions with his family and what he sees on television? In his sensitive and highly spiritual novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain, author Garth Stein speaks in the voice of his unlikely hero, Enzo, a lab/terrier mix with a surprising philosophical bent.
Enzo is a good and loyal dog who has long felt that he is not like other dogs. Once he watched a National Geographic documentary on Mongolia that talked about how, when a dog died, he was allowed to roam the plains until he was ready to come back, and, when the dog is ready, he will become a man.
Enzo wants nothing more than to become a man. He feels he is already a human soul trapped in a dog’s body. He envies men their thumbs and small tongues, and feels that if only he had thumbs, he could be so much more.
Enzo has been a good and faithful companion to Denny Swift, a race car driver who gets derailed from his racing dreams by life. Through Denny, Enzo learns the art of driving a race car by focusing only in the moment and allowing connection to everything. Now, at the end of his life, Enzo reflects on his life with the Swift family. He looks forward to his reincarnation a a man, where he will use all he has learned from Denny to drive a race car. And in that life, he will seek Denny out, walk up to him, shake his hand and say, “Enzo says hello” with a wink and a nudge.
Filled with gentle wisdom, The Art of Racing in the rain is a compassionate and sensitive novel that never feels preachy, but offers up a philosophical view of life and the beyond, why we are here, and how we can love and appreciate our lives as human beings. And there’s no need to be a dog lover, an animal lover or a racing lover to be captivated by Enzo’s message.
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