Monday, December 1, 2014

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein

Sometimes a literary device is original enough and well-executed enough that it can overshadow a mediocre story.  A great example of this is Garth Stein's popular novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain.  The entire novel is told from the perspective of Enzo, a mutt whose owner Denny is a race car driver.  Enzo, who thinks he is, or will be, human (don't all dogs?), has plenty of clever insight into the strange behavior of his human companions.  Stein's canine point of view is very entertaining, and makes what would be a melodramatic, contrived story into a decent book.

Denny goes through lots of hardship, losing his wife, suffering insufferable in-laws, being falsely accused of a terrible crime, and struggling to get his racing career off the ground.  But just as a good driver isn't deterred by the hardship of rain on the track, neither is Denny beaten by his challenges in life.  The Art of Racing in the Rain is not a great story, but told with great execution.  I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, but for the curious reader it's worth picking up just for Stein's unique story-telling acumen.

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