Thursday, November 5, 2009

Good Read Thursday: The Art of Racing in the Rain

I have always enjoyed reading. At times in my life, a majority of the time, I have been a voracious reader. I sort of fell out of the habit a few years ago when our daughter was born, but I am back at it! When stress or anxiety or busy-ness start to build up in my half full brain, it is nice to read. I usually read fiction, but recently have been reading some fictionalized biographies and novels based on real events or people. I consider them sort of "half fiction". Occasionally I throw in a "summer read", but tend to avoid books I consider "ladies books" - they don't interest me.  Eric makes fun of me for reading Jodi Picoult, but her books aren't "ladies books". They often deal with very real social and moral questions, and I find the relationships interesting.

I realized the other day that I have been reading about a book a week, sometimes more. I thought I'd share my thoughts on some of the good reads here. And so, I'll start with...

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

I picked up The Art of Racing in the Rain at the library after failing to finish a recent disappointment. It was sitting at the front of a "current paperback" shelf. I admit, my first thought was, "That looks like Marley!" I enjoyed reading Marley and Me (back before it was a movie), so I picked it up to take a look. 

The story of life from a dog's perspective. Sounded intruiging enough for me. I like reading about people's lives, their motivations, etc. As I often do, I read the first couple of pages. Writing style is almost as important to me as the story line.

I was immediately drawn to Enzo, our narrator. Enzo is a dog, nearing the end of his life and reflecting back on the wonderful ride he has had with his owner and master.  The title relates to his owner's profession (semi-pro race car driver and driving instructor), but also becomes the primary metaphor for the book. The book is about how Enzo and his family make it through difficult times. 

For me, one of the most delightful parts of the book were Enzo's references to TV watching. He stays home while everyone else is at work or school and the TV is left on for him. So he references television shows and specials, tv personalities, as though they are always accurate and true. And the references are always very funny. In one situation, he talks about a court hearing and mentions that he wasn't allowed to attend because he is a dog, but he has a pretty good idea of what happened based on viewing LA Law and Law & Order.

My only complaint is with one of the plot twists that occurs about half way through the book. I won't give details in case anyone else wants to read it, but it challenged my "suspension of disbelief". Whether it is in a book or movie, I always lose a little interest when my mind consciously notices a theme of "anything that could go wrong, will". If you've seen "Meet the Parents", you know what I mean. But, the good thing is that this particular plot twist was tied up nicely and in a semi-believable fashion, so the author saves the story in the end.

By far, the star of this book is Enzo. Possibly one of the most loveable characters I have ever encountered in a book. He will make you want to own a dog, or, at the very least, consider leaving your TV on for the dog you already have!

1 comment:

  1. Enzo was awesome. I haven't looked at dogs the same since I read that. I also will never wash my dog's toys. That part cracked my heart a little bit.