The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is next up on our 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge. This novel is categorized as Literary Fiction.
This post contains spoilers.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
(*Amazon Affiliate link)
I Am Ready
The Art of Racing in the Rain is a rather unusual story, in that it’s told from the viewpoint of a dog, Enzo. Enzo belongs to Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. But Enzo knows he isn’t just a dog; he’s a dog on the cusp of being reincarnated as a man. Enzo watched television and he heard on a program about Mongolia on National Geographic Channel that, “When a dog is finished living his lifetimes as a dog, his next incarnation will be as a man.”
Not all dogs return as men, they say; only those who are ready.
I am ready.
Racing is a major theme in this novel by Garth Stein. Every major plot turn is prefaced with a short chapter describing some aspect of driving a race car. As a reader that is a race fan, I really enjoyed these chapters that give insight to how a race car driving thinks and reacts when on the track. Early in the book Denny explains to his wife Eve why he is able to race in the rain more successfully than many other drivers:
“When I was nineteen,” Denny said after a moment, “at my first driving school down at Sears Point, it was raining and they were trying to teach us how to drive in the rain. After the instructors were finished explaining all their secrets, all the students were totally confused. We had no idea what they were talking about. I looked over at the guy next to me–I remember him, he was from France and he was very fast. Gabriel Flouret. He smiled and he said: ‘That which you manifest is before you.’ “
This is a recurring thought throughout the novel, “That which you manifest is before you.” Sounds a bit New Age, doesn’t it? But Enzo contemplates on Denny’s statement and I have to agree with his conclusion:
Such a simple concept, yet so true: that which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny. Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves.
Creators of Our Own Destiny
Roberta stated in her Writer’s Review that she felt manipulated by the string of bad luck that Denny endured. Was it all bad luck, though? When Eve became ill, it seemed logical to Denny that Eve and Zoe should with Eve’s parents. Eve’s parents had more money to provide care, more space for hospital beds and such, and they were retired, so they had the time to devote. How would Denny cope with illness and hospital beds and Zoe’s care and still be able to work? And yet he was setting himself up for long-term heartache and legal troubles.
We are the creators of our own destiny. Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves.
Enzo, Race Car Driver?
Throughout Eve’s illness and then the subsequent custody battle, Enzo does his best to provide Denny with moral support and companionship. In one memorable scene near the end of the novel, Enzo is able to change Denny’s mind when Denny has decided to give up on the custody battle, and the way he does so makes his message impossible for Denny to misunderstand.
I first read this book in 2012 and enjoyed it thoroughly then. Five years later, I found it to be just as enjoyable. Enzo does his best to provide Denny with moral support and companionship. In one memorable scene, Enzo is actually able to change Denny’s mind when Denny has decided to give up on the custody battle. In the last chapter, we discover whether Enzo was successful in his desire to be reincarnated as a human, and more specifically, a race car driver. Was he ready? I hoped all along that he was.
- Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
- Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
- Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective
You can also join us on social media:
- The Bestseller Code 100 Pinterest Page
- Twitter: #BestsellerCode100
- Facebook: Bestseller Code 100 Reading Group
- The full list is now posted on GoodReads
Have you written about The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
What are we reading next?
If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.
The next book is number 80. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris (2010) – Discussion begins August 21, 2017