The Art of Racing in the Rain

This book is narrated by a dog and the reader is the only one who can hear him. When I think about it, the narrator can only be heard by the reader in most books, unless written in first person, so I guess it’s not that weird. But this book was written in first dog (vs first person, get it?), so the dog narrator has the chance to interact with story versus just narrating, but only the reader can hear his voice since dogs can’t talk. Once I gave it some thought, I realized how slick this was.

That’s not the only thing that made this book feel new and fresh to me. The other was its focus on auto racing, specifically F1 and LeMans style races, where you have to race in the rain on road courses. What a pleasurable read this was.

This dog, Enzo, just loves auto racing because his master, Denny, is really into it. They’re like best buddies and watch a lot of races together on TV. Heck, Denny leaves the TV on all day some times and Enzo just watches it, so the TV informs a lot of Enzo’s opinions. Denny has no idea that his dog is this smart. Enzo can only communicate with Denny through barking and other animalistic methods, but Enzo hears and understands everything.

It’s damn cool. While Enzo is really smart, his voice still reflects some innocence, ignorance, and forwardness not often associated with modern, adult humans. It’s a similar voice to that of Maddie Ross, from True Grit, in that you can tell it’s not an adult person talking. I can’t put my finger on it, but they felt similar in that respect.

Here is Enzo the dog talking, for example, in his head:

Often things happen to race cars in the heat of the race. A square-toothed gear in a transmission may break, suddenly leaving the driver without all of his gears. Or perhaps a clutch fails. Brakes go soft from overheating. Suspensions break. When faced with one of these problems, the poor driver crashes. The average driver gives up. The great drivers drive through the problem. They figure out a way to continue racing. Like in the Luxembourg Grand Prix in 1989, when Irish racer Kevin Finnerty York finished the race victoriously and later revealed that he had driven the final twenty laps of the race with only two gears! To be able to possess a machine in such a way is the ultimate show of determination and awareness. It makes one realize that the physicality of our world is a boundary to us only if our will is weak; a true champion accomplish things that a normal person would think impossible. (page 60)

He’s making a point about how awesome his master Denny is at not only driving, but also at being a good husband and father in the face of much adversity. Enzo notices everything and is highly attentive to the needs of the people he loves. What a great dog!

Great book. It was heartwarming for more reasons than just the story line.