i n t e g r a l    c o u n s e l i n g    i n s t i t u t e

 

Book Review of the Month

 

 

The Art of Racing in the Rain

By Garth Stein

2008 Bright White Light, LLC

ISBN 978-0-06-153793-6

 

Guest Review by Kathy Boyd

Summertime is the time to lighten up and find the joy in life.  "The Art of Racing in the Rain" is a quick read that will provide both laughter and food for thought. . . . through the eyes of a dog who is obsessed with opposable thumbs, race car driving and his next life, which he is sure will be as a human. 

 

If you spent the summer of 1970 immersed in the Richard Bach novella "Jonathan Livingston Seagull"; learning lessons of life, flight and self-perfection, then the thoughts and observations of our hero Enzo will both take you back and rekindle the enlightenment you may have obtained 38 years ago. 

 

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life.  He knows he is different from other dogs; a philosopher with a nearly human soul, he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.  Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast.  He discovers that by using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals. 

 

"Balance, anticipation, patience.  These are vital.  Peripheral vision, seeing things you've never seen before.  Kinesthetic sensation, driving by the seat of the pants.  But what I've always liked best is when he talks about having no memory.  No memory of things he'd done just a second before.  Good or bad.  Because memory is time folding back on itself.  To remember is to disengage from the present.  In order to reach any kind of

success in automobile racing, a driver must never remember.  Racing is doing.  It is being part of a moment and being aware of nothing else but that moment.  Reflection must come at a later time.  The great champion

Julian SabellaRosa has said, 'When I am racing, my mind and my body are working so quickly and so well together, I must be sure not to think, or else I will definitely make a mistake'". 

 

With this as Enzo's mantra, we enjoy an enchanting look at bachelorhood, courtship, marriage, childbirth, in-laws, cancer, death, custody battles and even the human rituals of getting ready for bed each night as only a dog

could see it.   And love. . . . . so very much love and devotion. . . . as only a dog could understand it. 

 

Grab your cold drink and sunglasses, put your feet in the kiddie pool and treat yourself to an afternoon in the hills of Seattle while traveling on four feet and a belief that if you only learn enough in this life you will come back

as the thing you truly long for most. . .

 

"When I return to this world, I will be a man.  I will walk among you.  I will lick my lips with my small, dexterous tongue.  I will shake hands with other men, grasping firmly with my opposable thumbs.  And I will teach people all that I know.  And when I see a man or a woman or a child in trouble, I will extend my hand, both metaphorically and physically.  I will offer my hand.  To him.  to her.  To you.  To the world.  I will be a good citizen, a good partner in the endeavor of life that we all share."

 

And you will never look at your dog quite the same way again.