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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Art of Racing in the Rain: Enzo’s Dilemma


Last week the library announced the launch of this season’s All Fairfax Reads with the selection of The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Everyone is invited to read and discuss the book with friends, relatives and neighbors between now and September.

Sara Gruen, the author of another book discussion favorite Water for Elephants, may have described Stein’s novel best: “ The Art of Racing in the Rain has everything: love, tragedy, redemption, danger, and – most especially – the canine narrator Enzo. The old soul of a dog has much to teach us about being
human. . . .”

Enzo’s dilemma intrigues us from the opening page:

“Gestures are all that I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature. . . . I have no words I can rely on because, much to my dismay, my tongue was designed long and flat and loose, and therefore, is a horribly ineffective tool for pushing food around my mouth while chewing, and an even less effective tool for making clever and complicated polysyllabic sounds that can be linked together to form sentences.” (The Art of Racing in the Rain, p. 1)

A good novel lays out its themes in its opening page – and in this case – the opening sentence. In Stein’s novel, the art of living is diminished for canines – and for humans – when we lose our voices.

NEXT WEEK: Driving in the Rain

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