My New Favorite Novel

Not long ago, I wrote about belonging to a book club for the first time ever. I love my book club in general, for many reasons, but specifically at this moment because of the book Luann chose for March.

I had not heard of writer Garth Stein or The Art of Racing in the Rain, though according to the cover it’s a New York Times Bestseller with over four million copies sold. All I knew before I started reading was that the story is told from a dog’s point of view, which sounded schlocky.

A couple of months ago, when I opened The Book Thief (also a NYT best seller), I was predisposed to like it, but didn’t. I opened The Art of Racing in the Rain predisposed to dislike it, and couldn’t put it down.

One day, the dog Enzo’s owner, a budding race car driver, forgets to turn the TV off as he leaves for work, and Enzo’s education begins, with The Weather Channel. Enzo tells us, “The Weather Channel is not about weather; it is about the world!” Watching The Speed Channel and racing videos with Denny, Enzo learns everything about Formula One driving and competition. In this beautiful book, the fact that Enzo has favorite actors and movies (Steve McQueen, Al Pacino, Le Mans, Bullitt) is plausible because we know some dogs like to watch television, plus Enzo is a really smart dog.

Well into The Art of Racing in the Rain, charmed and often moved to tears, I began to worry. Would Garth Stein’s mastery of narrative carry through all the way to the end? Would the final chapters satisfy? Would the evil characters be punished properly? Would the ones I loved prevail? The answers were yes, yes, yes, and yes!

Luann chose The Art of Racing in the Rain even though she’d read it before, because Garth Stein will be among the presenters at the Des Moines Book Fair this weekend (March 30). Our club will hear what Stein and other authors have to say about their work. We’ll enjoy lunch together from food trucks participating in the downtown event. Likely to come up is that Stein’s novel about Enzo, Denny, Eve, and Zoe is to be released in movie form this fall, with Kevin Costner as the voice of Enzo. I’m skeptical anyone can do cinematic justice to the story, and I know Enzo would be, too.


6 Responses

  1. Marcia Montgomery
    | Reply

    This is a wonderful book. I’m so glad you read and enjoyed it so much.

    I read it several years ago in the Reader’s Digest Select Editions then bought the original and have enjoyed it several times since. Watching the characters, especially Enzo, bond, learn and grow was a delightful experience. And, yes, it was almost an all-nighter but well worth it.

  2. Pamela W Weeks
    | Reply

    I, too, read this several years ago and loved it. I remember reading through the day and couldn’t put it down.

  3. en
    | Reply

    Well written analysis of the books.

  4. Arti Mader
    | Reply

    This is such a moving book. I loved it when I read it a few years ago, and I realize it’s time to read it again. I thought the conclusion was wonderful. I’m glad you got to enjoy this book, and I hope the movie does it justice.

  5. Joseph D. Brisben
    | Reply

    I hope you have a chance to meet Susan Orleans. She is one of my faves.-Joe

  6. Luann Gilman
    | Reply

    I’m so happy you loved it. Just finishing it up for the 2nd time, and still one of my all-time favorites. Haven’t had a book evoke that much emotion in quite some time… glad I didn’t wake my hubby with my blubbering! Can’t wait to see Garth Stein on Saturday!

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