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The Art of Racing in the Rain

July 13th, 2009

My dog died today.

I’m not a reader.  I mean, I read non-fiction books and magazines (about cars, mostly).  But, I only sit down to read a novel about once a decade.  That “once” came last summer, when I read Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain.  I bought this book because it was recommended in Road & Track, and when a car magazine recommends a novel, you’ve got to figure it’s not just another book.

Stein - Art of RacingThe Art of Racing in the Rain is a book about balance, anticipation, and patience.  It is told from the point of view of Enzo (whose namesake, Enzo Ferrari, founded the maker of those prancing-horse-emblazoned Italian automobiles in 1947).  Enzo is a dog who’s at the end of his life, and in the book he reflects upon all of the events that have occured during his time with Denny, his owner and an aspiring race car driver, and Denny’s wife Eve and daughter Zoë.  Now, I really have no frame of reference with which to compare it, but this is an incredible book.  If you love dogs and/or racing, you must read it.  …My wife has long said I am unemotional.  That may be true, except when it comes to dogs and cars.  And The Art of Racing in the Rain nails it on both accounts.

In racing, rain is the great equilizer.  It makes the track unpredictable, and increases the chances of the unexpected.  (I’ve had three on-track wrecks, two of which were in the rain.)  I found out my dog (coincidentally, named Zoe) had cancer a little over 5 weeks ago, when I took her to the vet to fix a broken tooth.  Her symptoms had just started, but at that point the mass was too large to do much about.  Talk about the unexpected…  Her health declined rapidly over the past month.

I read The Art of Racing in the Rain last summer just after driving from North Carolina to Colorado, by way of Utah.  Zoe was my companion for the trip.  I was thankful to have her with me, as she was a good listener, and she forced me to pause for rest-stop picnics and to stretch our legs every now and then.  I missed her tremendously when I had to leave her in Utah while I was in Colorado for 11 weeks.  …I’m going to miss her a lot more now.

Zoe, October 17, 1999 - July 13, 2009

Zoe, October 17, 1999 - July 13, 2009

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