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The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Bright White Light, LLC, 2008

From the movie version, 2019

In earlier posts I admitted my aversion to dialogue between animals and humans; however, I don't take issue with inter-animal chats like in Animal Farm, or with the dog narrator in The Art of Racing in the Rain. After all, Enzo tells his story without talking to the humans he loves; he just thinks and worries about them, and tries to help them. The result is a very readable and touching book about the courage we can find within ourselves to triumph over, rather than be defeated by, suffering, illness and death.

Animal lovers will be warmed by Enzo the dog and his family, and even zoophobes may shed a tear when tragedy strikes. Critics might berate the sentimentality or lack of character depth (especially Eve), but many readers will relate to the heartfelt story, and appreciate the life lessons from the singular perspective of a race car driver.

The book was made into a movie in 2019, and my first-year college students, who didn't realize it was a book, gave the movie two thumbs up.

Here are some quotes:

On controlling our own destiny:

The driver who cannot tear his eyes away from the wall as he spins out of control will meet that wall; the driver who looks down the track as he feels his tires break free will regain control of his vehicle.

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.

Listening to others:

People, if you pay attention to them, change the direction of one another's conversations constantly. It's like having a passenger in your car who suddenly grabs the steering wheel and turns you down a side street...Learn to listen! I beg of you. Pretend you are a dog like me and listen to other people rather than steal their stories.

A dog who understands:

How difficult it must be to be a person.

A human reaction to illness:

After that day; whenever we went to the bus stop, the man made himself busy talking to other people or checking his cell phone. We never spoke to him again.

Is it really desirable to live for hundreds of years?

Growing old is a pathetic thing. It is full of limitations and reduction. It happens to us all, I know; but I think that it might not have to. I think it happens to those of us who request it. And in our current mind-set, our collective ennui, it is what we have chosen to do. But one day a mutant child will be born who refuses to age, who refuses to acknowledge the limitations of these bodies of ours, who lives in health until he is done with life, not until his body no longer supports him. He will live for hundreds of years, like Noah. Like Moses...I believe that one day it will come to pass.

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I'm even worse than that--I hate it when I read a book or see a movie where animals talk at all, let alone having a dialogue with humans or even other animals! I just cringe.

I didn't mind Animal Farm though because the animals there were just an obvious pretext to pass along Orwell's political message.

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