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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein

I decided to do the review for Garth Stein's novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain, a bit differently than I normally do.

Back in this post I asked you all to ask me and my husband (Robb) questions about this book. Robb and I both read and liked it. Robb bought the book and I was asked to review the book by Sean from Terra Communications.

***Stick around because at the end of the Q&A there is a chance to win a copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain.

You all were wonderful and asked some great questions. So without further ado, here we go:

From A Bookshelf Monstrosity:

1. Do you look at your dog differently after reading this book?

After reading, I'm better able to admit my own dog's mortality (pretend I am laughing while saying that). And I appreciate more the memories and all the changes of the last 6yrs that my dog has been through with me. I know at some point I will have a different dog, but before that happens my dog now cannot say she has been bored being my dog. So yes, I do; the book reminded me of all the "why I have a dog / mans best friend / etc" reasons and sayings.

It definitely did! To a degree. I normally read my books during my commute to and from work. And each day after work I just wanted to give my dogs a big ol' hug. I laughed because Enzo is kind of cocky and philosophizes a bit. While my Charlie dog is kind of a big oaf, I could totally see our dog Anna being all cocky and thinking..."when I'm human." Before reading this book, my husband and I would joke that Anna's just waiting until she grows opposable thumbs and then she'll show us all.

2. Did you like how the story was written from the dog's perspective? Why or why not?

I do not think it would have been as good a story if told from any another perspective. As Denny, it would have been a too personal perspective; as Eve it would have been a different story time line; as Annika it would have some teen drama tragic thing recycled. Enzo held me observing from the sidelines. I could see what was going on, I was as much involved in the situation, outraged and saddened, but I could not do anything about it. Also, Enzo was able to cross story lines without the author forcing it along. He was in the Zoe's world, he was by Denny's side, he invaded the in-laws, and stood proudly at the coffee shop scene. Also, the dog was written a bit snarky and I enjoy that kind of thing.

I liked that this story was from Enzo's point of view. I didn't get caught up in all the semantics of it (how did he know things, how did he learn), I just enjoyed his perspective. That said, I probably would not have enjoyed this book had it been from someone else's perspective, say Denny. The story was a bit too drama, a bit too LifeTime movie which I'm not really into. I think coming from the perspective of the dog who really cared about his family absolutely made the story work.

3. Do you or your husband have a favorite quotation or passage from the book?

I usually dog ear and mark up pages with passages, quotes, scenes, names... for whatever reasons. I was just barely into this book when I realized I would be reading it again and decided to deal with all the note taking on round two so I could enjoy the book and enjoy reading the book. That being said, "Get to it, mother*^@+&~" really stands out for a variety of reasons.

I don't remember a specific quote but there is one point in the book that I almost cried, and oddly it had nothing to do with Enzo. I won't give it away but it had to do with Denny's parents. That's all I'll say.

From Nicole at Linus's Blanket:

4. Did you and your husband react differently to the dog narrating the books and what happened to the dog over the course of the story?

I think Enzo is a great character and that really showed through the one-sidedness of the narration. Thinking about it now, I can see how it's not just his story, but also the story of an "every dog". Lucky dogs get great families; unfortunate dogs get tragedy; unlucky dogs get passed and in/out shelters. Enzo lived these lives. When I got my dog, I accepted that I would be responsible for keeping her out of the unfortunate and on the positive side of unlucky as best able. I also know where her story is likely to end. So, Enzo's story, while heartstrung, is also a story about a lucky dog and that is something I can appreciate.

Hmmm. I haven't read Robb's responses yet to see how he reacted. I do think that he likes this book a bit more than I did. Maybe because he could relate to Denny as a male more.

From Mariska:

5. What was the first thing come out when you had finished reading this book ?

Probably the very first thing was the need to get home and pet the dogs, hug the wife, and take a moment to really appreciate my lot on this great spinning mass. That followed by a cynical "dreams can come true" moment and then an appreciation for a very well written book. All wrapped up in about 30 seconds after finishing.

Honestly, I did NOT like the end. I thought it was a bit too cheesy, happily-ever-after kharma thing going on. Looking back, I'm not sure if I agree with all the philosophizing that was in the book but it honestly wasn't that pushy while I was reading it. I do know that I liked the book and really liked Enzo. It made me sad to think that some day our Charlie and Anna won't be around. They are the first dogs I've ever had so it's going to be insanely sad when they pass. I can't even imagine how Robb is going to take it.

6. What is the best part of this book for you and your husband?

I did not know anything about the book when I picked it up. I had a travel day coming up, was in a bookstore, dog on the cover, and the promise of an interesting story perspective - so i grabbed a copy. I started the book at an ATL airport bar and finished it somewhere along the 1 train that same night. So the best part to me was enjoying the book and it's combined elements: a love story without being a love story; tragedy and doom; a hero survived; bite. Also, I think it is great how living life, full of variables, paralleled the unexpectednesses of driving cars, really fast, without dominating the book. (PS - If you have not heard it already, nice cover work Archie Ferguson).

I loved Enzo. I just wanted to hug him. And then hug Charlie and Anna. I would honestly read this again just because of Enzo. And for some reason, I loved that he got all caught up in the racing aspect (Denny is a race car driver...thus the title of the book). I thought I would get annoyed at the use of racing euphemisms. Kind of when someone keeps using sports terms and it drives you up the wall. But I really liked that part of the book. I think because Enzo used it and I could just see the joy a dog gets when in a car. Our dogs LOVE sticking their heads out of the truck while we're driving. It made me happy to think about all that.

From Janna Qualman at Something She Wrote:

7. How many times did you cry?

Several actually, the better moment crying while saddled up at a bar, 3 in the afternoon, and on a packed bus.

I only almost cried once. During the aforementioned parent part.

8. Would you ever name a dog Enzo?

Had I thought of it first, yes.

No. Not a big Ferrari fan. That said, for Denny's dog it was a great name. It honestly took me longer than it should have to figure out that Enzo was named after Enzo Ferrari.

There you have it! Thanks to everyone who asked us questions and to my husband Robb who graciously played along.

And thank you to Sean at Terra Communications for my review copy which I will now pass on to one lucky winner!! Robb will NOT part with his paperback copy so I'm going to giveaway my hardback copy.

To enter the GIVEAWAY you MUST:

1) provide email or way to contact you
2) tell me something you learned or pondered during this Q&A section

That's it! The giveaway is open for a week, through December 2nd and is International.

Good luck!

Just for fun, here's the four of us our first Thanksgiving together (our tradition is to go camping).

Also Reviewed by:
Urban Bachelorette


  1. Hi.
    This post got me thinking. Dogs never live as much as we would like to. It's the way life goes. But we create a connection to them and, when the time comes, it always gets hard. So my thoughts are... we need to think about it. Enjoy our canine friend while he's alive and, when it's gone, get over the pain by remembering the great life and the good moments we shared.
    Thank you for this post, it really got me thinking...

    carianmoonlight at gmail dot com

  2. No need to enter me, babe. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book -- have fun camping!! Wish I could join you...

  3. Now my dog is getting really old, so at present I just can't read books that are dog related as I know what is coming and it is all a bit too real for me at the moment. When it happens, I don't know how as a family we will deal with it. The girls have grown up with Jake, so it is going to be hard. He is spoilt rotten, so I know we will have good memories of him.
    Maybe one day I will be able to read this book.

  4. I learned that Enzo was a lovable, intelligent dog and I would love to read more about him. Please enter my name in your draw. Thanks.

  5. It's great post, i love to be 'apart' of this :)

    Love to read when Robb says :

    Probably the very first thing was the need to get home and pet the dogs, hug the wife, and take a moment to really appreciate my lot on this great spinning mass.

    it touched me ! Coz Sometimes the small thing as 'appreciate' is always forgotten.
    appreciate for what we have now. cherish the time when we're still together.
    As my Cat had died 3 months ago, after 5 years with me. It was a sad day for me and my sisters.

    uniquas at ymail dot com

  6. I read this book a while ago and loved it. I read a library copy and would love to be included in the draw to get my own copy. I agree that telling the story from the dog's point of view was very successful. Enzo really cared about his family. I am a dog lover and we had a dog for 16 years, so I can definitely relate.
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

  7. we lost our pet dog who was 14 yrs. old a year ago; my heart is still broken but I can face looking at his picture better now than before. Enzo sounds like this kind of relationship we had with our dog. I'd love to read more.


  8. I learned that this story is written from a Enzo's point of view. It makes me want to readthis book even more. Please count me in! Thanks!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  9. I recently (last week)had to have one of my dogs, Simba, a 12 year oldcross Chow/Rottweiler euthanased due to a very agressive tumor on his skull which had already compromised his skull bones when it was diagnosed.

    This was a very hard thing to do as he was such a gentle, loving dog and is missed very, very much.

    What that did to me is lead me to thinking that although we claim to love our animals and want the best for them, it seems that research into their ailments and drugs and procedures to help them is always lagging behind our research on human ailments.

    I think very few dog owner ever think of this and give money for research into this type of thing.

    I would really like to see people who love dogs and write about them get more agressive about raising funds for this type of research.


  10. (entered yesterday, but I don't think it went through...using google account today)
    I read this book before and liked it. I would love to have my own copy. The story from the dog's viewpoint worked well. Enzo was a lovable dog who adored his family. We had a dog for 16 years, so I can relate.
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

  11. what a wonderful post...I thought that it was interesting how you both felt about your own puppy after reading the book.


  12. Haha, I love how the first question asked whether one looked at the dog differently. Just that image, and that whammy of the title makes me want to slip into the neighbor's yard and play catch with their incredibly fluffy little doggie.

    I'd love to read this.


  13. Fun way to review a book and thanks for including my questions! I found it interesting that both you and your husband think you wouldn't have liked the book as much were it not written from the dog's perspective. I'm really looking forward to reading this one someday.


  14. i learned that it is written for a fur babies point of view and just goes to show that they have feelings and emotions as well minsthins at optonline dot net

  15. After I read this book (and then made my husband read it) I right away told him I wanted to get a dog and name him Enzo. Hasn't happened yet, but one day!


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