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YOU WOULD THINK A BOOK ABOUT AUTO RACING, as written from a dog’s perspec- tive, would be whimsical at best, or light- hearted at worst. That’s not a knock by the way. I just wasn’t prepared for the roller coaster ride of emotional highs and lows this extraordinary story slapped me around with. I’m also very late to the game here. Author Garth Stein’s 2008 tale of Denny & Enzo’s Great Adventures...was, to say the least, extremely well-received. A 2009 New York Times bestseller, it went on to garner an impressive list of other national and regional awards of note. Speaking of regional, that’s what we


are, though our readership is decidedly international, a testament to our own rather unorthodox approach to covering stories our loyal readers deem essential. And being a small organization with large aspirations, the backlog of mate- rial we are compelled to digest, indeed sometimes leads to roomfuls of tomes waiting for a read. Hence, the unfortunate (for me) five-year delay in getting to this wonderful story. But I digress. Frankly, the weight of this tale made it more


than worth the wait. Stein’s character development is not only masterful, it’s the basis for drawing the reader in until it’s too late to back away. The formula of starting in the present day and having our protagonist describe how he arrived in his current predicament, provides a solid vehicle for a life’s analysis. It’s a dog’s life, seen through his thoughts, as the reader inhabits Enzo’s mind and must come to terms with all of the limitations that entails. It will have all of you who are owned by dogs, re-think-


Author Garth Stein and his dog, Comet.


ing everything about your relationship with them. And that’s a lot better than thinking about what Congress is going to screw up this week isn’t it? I’m just saying. The thing is, this story is believable, in the sense that you


feel like it could happen. Maybe dogs are humans trapped in a body unsuited for communicating all that they feel, see and know. When Enzo says “Gestures are all that I have” and goes on to explain why, it all makes complete sense. When he describes how Denny picked him out of “a pile of puppies” from a less than honorable breeder, you sense that this was more of a rescue than a purchase. When Denny tells Enzo as they are watching race videos together — “which we’ve done from the very first day I met him,” that in order to reach any kind of success in automobile racing, a driver must never remember the things he’d done just a second before,” the feeling that Enzo understands every word, is palpable. And his obsessing over opposable thumbs (“Monkeys have


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thumbs. Give me my thumbs, you f...ing monkeys!) — and a large and flat tongue making the formation of words impossible — well, this is one smart, analytical and remarkably philosophical pup. I was taken by racing-enthusiast Stein’s use of maxims both transcendental and spiritual like “That which you manifest is before you,” “ Your car goes where your eyes go,” and “racing doesn’t lie.” Better yet “No race has ever been won in the first corner, but plenty have been lost there.” Or “The race is long—to finish first, first you must finish.” It’s a story of victory and defeat. Of


trust and betrayal. Of death and dying. But in the end, as Denny lets him go, Enzo enters a new world: “There are no fences. No buildings. No people. There is only me and the grass and the sky and the earth.


Only me.” “I love you boy. You can go. It’s okay Enzo. You can go...”


(Reviewer’s note: It doesn’t end here. The final chapter will lift you up and knock your socks off). The Art Of Racing In The Rain, by Garth Stein. Harper Collins - 2008. Book Review by Steve Cooke.U


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Everything Dog & Kitties Too. Spring ~ 2014 THE NEW BARKER 63


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