Book explores pet's perspective
'The Art of Racing in the Rain' tells sobering tale through eyes of family pet
Taking an interesting spin on a classic tale about "man's best friend," Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain features a story in the perspective of Enzo, a family pet. The novel is currently available on Amazon or at most local bookstores.
When the semester finally ended, my first thought was to replace my time and efforts of work with reading. When I say reading I am not referring to 100 pages of Advanced Placement US history (APUSH), but rather a book that would keep me entertained through the lazy days of Christmas vacation.
When I purchased The Art of Racing in the Rain, written by Garth Stein, I had no expectations and no assumptions. I was thoroughly surprised to discover the story was told in the first person from the eyes of the family dog.
This reveals a point of view that allowed much imagination, as it is written in such a rare form. A dog has no say in the events that take place and no real opinion in a discussion, yet Stein was able to focus an entire story around Enzo, the family pet.
Through the first chapter, I was confused by the account being told. Eventually I figured the only character that has to be let outside to use the restroom could be a dog. Then, the story began to unfold from the quiet and observant eyes of Enzo.
Dennis (Denny) Swift, Enzo's owner and a semiprofessional race car driver, treats his dog as if he's a person. "A man's best friend" perfectly sums up the relationship between this master and pet.
When Denny enters into a relationship with his bride-to-be, Eve, Enzo begins to notice things that dogs are not credited for. Though only mentioned a few times, Eve's distinct smell plays a big role later on in the tale.
Denny and Eve become parents to what Enzo calls his "niece," Zoe. As the family grows, Zoe starts school, Denny races, Eve cooks and Enzo watches. Eventually Denny's long tours away from home take a toll on the family dynamic, distancing Eve.
Everything begins to crash, and doesn't stop for many years. Eve begins to become sick, getting noticeably worse every day. Hospitals are not an option in Eve's mind and the entire family refuses to acknowledge the problem. This is the first of many trials to come to Denny and, with Denny, Enzo.
The first half of the book is very sad, as we see the emotions behind stories that we hear often in our lives. The second half of the story, revolves around perseverance.
"Stein chose to write from a perspective I have never read before, which kept me intrigued throughout the chapters. The new standpoint turned even a family dinner into a completely fresh story." --Tynin Fries, '14
Throughout the novel Enzo expresses knowledge, intellectuality, understanding and frustration by his lack of thumbs. His character shows all the deep thinking behind the tilt of a dog's head, the double barks, the demolition of toys and the gentle nudges of a snout -- things I see my dogs do, but never bothered to think they would have real meaning.
One aspect of the story that challenged my views and beliefs was Enzo's belief that he would be reincarnated into a human. Though in this fictional story his reincarnation would make the "happy ending" perfect, I do not agree with this belief.
The characters had a new form of development in this story. Though seen in others, the actions and body language of the people unveiled the most about each personality.
Stein chose to write from a perspective I have never read before, which kept me intrigued throughout the novel. The new standpoint turned even a family dinner into a completely fresh story.
The title of the novel reveals the theme of racing woven through each page. As Denny shares his insight of driving with Enzo, the sames morals are seen, in parallel, to the situations Denny is forced to deal with.
Overall, I thought the book was intriguing because of the interesting outlook from that of a dog. I think people that read a lot would appreciate the writing, but those who don't would fail to be enteratined by the simple story line.
This book challenged me to think from different points of view. Often I found myself comparing one view that I do know, the humans. Enzo is a character that became so personal that he found his own place in my heart too.
The Art of Racing in the Rain is available on Amazon or at most local bookstores.
For more reviews, read the Nov. 15 article, Formulaic theme, fresh plot propagated in 'The Best of Me'.