To be honest, I went a little too fast. But I do want to say...
This book has the best hook I've ever read.
It's about an old dog - and if you have a dog, you're probably going to experience the same. Within the first eight pages, I had tears in my eyes. Matt looked at me, looked at the book, and then shook his head. I actually had to put the book aside, take a few breaths, and calm down.
The next chapter was better. And because of that intense emotional connection, I was sunk. I had to know what was going to happen. I cared about the characters and I hated those that wronged them with palpable fury. It didn't hurt that the narrator (Enzo the dog) peppered the narrative with soul-piercing tru-isms that ring especially true with my experience from the last few years.
Here are a few that made me stop and mark the corner (because I do that. Only in books I own, I promise.)
"Such a simple concept, yet so true: that which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny. Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves."
"These are the things that only dogs and women understand because we tap into pain directly, we connect to pain directly from its source, and so it is at once brilliant and brutal and clear, like white-hot metal spraying out of a fire hose, we can appreciate the aesthetic while taking the worst of it straight in the face. Men, on the other hand, are all filters and deflectors and time release. For men, it's like athlete's foot: spray a special spray on it, they say, and it goes away. They have no idea that the manifestation of their affliction - the fungus between their hairy toes - is merely a symptom, an indication of a systemic problem."
""Inside each of us resides the truth," I began, "the absolute truth. But sometimes the truth is hidden in a hall of mirrors. Sometimes we are viewing a facsimile, a distortion. I am reminded of the climactic scene of a James Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun. James bond escaped his hall of mirrors by breaking the glass, shattering the illusions, until only the true villain stood before him. We, too, must shatter the mirrors. We must look into ourselves and root out the distortions until that thing which we know in our hearts is perfect and true, stands before us. Only then will justice be served.""
"I know this much about racing in the rain. I know it is about balance. It is about anticipation and patience. I know all of the driving skills that are necessary for one to be successful in the rain. But racing in the rain is also about the mind! It is about owning one's own body. About believing that one's car is merely an extension of one's body. About believing the track is an extension of the car, and the rain is an extension of the track, and the sky is an extension of the rain. It is about believing that you are not you; you are everything. And everything is you."
The Art of Racing In The Rain follows the drama of a family following loss as seen through the eyes of the family dog. I'm not sure if it was the narrator, the fact that I was immediately invested, emotionally, in the story, or just that it was a compelling tale. What I enjoyed most about this book is how Stein made me intensely love the characters I was supposed to love, and how I hated the villains. I was enthralled.
Also, it was fun to see a non-conventional narrator at work. Stein addresses this. Enzo (the dog) is upfront about his humanness - it's central to the book, and brought up in the first few pages. But at the same time, he manages to color Enzo's narrative - the details noticed, the perceptions, etc - with an interesting perspective that was very believable, in our dogs at least.
I highly, highly recommend this book.
What are you reading this week? Have you read The Art of Racing In The Rain? Tell me in the comments below!