Oh, my. This book. To call The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein a dog book would be a colossal mistake. While the book is narrated by and told from the point of view of Enzo, a dog, this is not a book about a dog. This is a book about a family of which Enzo is an important member. Enzo's owner is Denny, an aspiring race car driver. Denny and Enzo love to watch racing videos together and much of what Enzo knows about life he has learned through racing. Enzo also watches other television and as his philosophies develop, he shares them. For instance, his opinion on evolution: "So what if man's body evolved from the monkeys? Whether he came from monkeys or fish is unimportant. The important idea is that when the body became 'human' enough, the first human soul slipped into it."
Enzo believes that his soul is as near to human as possible. After watching a documentary about reincarnation, he feels certain that his next life will be in the body of a man and he is ready. The book begins at the end. Enzo is very old and struggling to keep up. It is clear he has very little time left in this world. (For this reason, I did not give this book to a friend of mine that I know loves dogs as her lab is now 14 years old.) Enzo then proceeds to tell us what his life has been like from the beginning, how he came to live with Denny and what it was like for him when Denny married and had a daughter.
Enzo is a kind soul. He is wise. He is unselfish. He stands by as a witness as Denny's life falls apart and at times Enzo even helps direct Denny's path, keeping him from danger and regret. I admit that I am not much of a dog person, though we have had a dog for the last three years. He is sweet, but I am not as attached to him as my children and husband are. And yet I would be the last person to say that our dog doesn't have a soul and his own personality.
Oh, if only we could hear his thoughts.