Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Off Topic Novel---The Art of Racing in the Rain: Cars, A Canine, and Some Karma

The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein, unabridged audiobook read by Christopher Evan Welch, six compact disks, $14.95.

This novel is narrated by a dog. Whatever you dog is thinking, this isn't it. A lab terrier mix is randomly chosen from a litter on a farm outside Seattle by race car driver Denny Swift. Denny Swift. Swift...race car driver. You get it, right?

Denny names the dog Enzo. Denny marries Eve and together they have daughter, Zoƫ. Enzo watches television, especially the American Movie Channel, ESPN when NASCAR is on and apparently the International Film channel when it is showing French films. Enzo can understand human speech but can't talk. Like a Frenchman, Enzo complains on his deathbed about the collective ennui of the human race. Yes, Enzo thinks the words 'collective ennui.'

Other TV channels, though not mentioned in the narrative, must have been watched by the dog. The Buddhism Channel, the Hindu Channel, The Rosicrucian Channel, and the Reincarnation Channel. This novel is in the same vein as that early 1970's bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull in which a bird teaches humans the many answers to the question "Who Moved My Cheese?"

Denny uses the family's savings and home value to make it on the professional racing circuit. Eve gets cancer and dies. The evil twins, the grandparents, create suspicions and file a lawsuit to take Zoe away from Dad. Enzo takes time away from watching Denny's racing videos to create Buddhist koans that apply to both driving and life: "The car goes where the eyes go". Melodrama advances the plot through which the human characters sit, walk, fetch and file lawsuits.

The end comes suddenly. A Porsche heir enters with an offer of employment. Denny's parents who have been missing from the novel from page one drop in overnight and leave a check equal to the value of their farm. A witness recants testimony.

The Art of Racing in the Rain is destined for the Hallmark television channel. It is suitable for young adults and their parents, while they are in a car with the cruise control on.

1 comment:

Dave said...

One of those "meaning of life" books that strikes different people different ways. I liked the racing analogies, my friend really liked the dog. Good book to read at the beach.