by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
The Art of Racing in the Rain; A Novel, by Garth Stein
NYC, HarperCollinsPublishers/Harper, May 2008, hardcover $23.95 (321 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $9.99.
“Gestures are all that I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature. And when I occasionally step over the line and into the world of the melodramatic, it is what I must do in order to communicate clearly and effectively. In order to make my point understood without question. 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. And that’s why I’m here now waiting for Denny to come home – he should be here soon – lying on the cool tiles of the kitchen floor in a puddle of my own urine.” (p. 1)
The narrator is Enzo, a mixed-breed retriever, the pet dog of Denny Swift, a human retired racecar driver. Enzo is dying of canine old age, but he is looking forward eagerly to his death. He has educated himself by watching television with Denny, and has accepted a documentary on Mongolian belief in reincarnation as reality. He believes that when he dies as a dog, he will be reborn as a human and will become Denny’s best friend.
The novel is Enzo’s autobiography.
“I remember the heat on the day I left the farm. Every day was hot in Spangle, and I thought the world was just a hot place because I never knew what cold was about. I had never seen rain, didn’t know much about water. Water was the stuff in the buckets that the older dogs drank, and it was the stuff the alpha man sprayed out of the hose and into the faces of dogs who might want to pick a fight. But the day Denny arrived was exceptionally hot. My littermates and I were tussling around like we always did, and a hand reached into the pile and found my scruff and suddenly I was dangling high in the air.
‘This one,’ a man said.” (p. 11)