Garth Stein


The Art of Racing in the Rain
Well, this book's been reviewed so many times now that we no longer try to keep up with it. A web search will bring up dozens, if not hundreds, of reviews. But here's a sample of just a few...

The Portland Oregonian

" of those stories that may earn its place next to Richard Bach's 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull,' Paulo Coelho's 'The Alchemist,' and Yann Martel's 'Life of Pi'...It's magic indeed..."

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Toronto Star

Novel Melds Life, Auto Racing
"The Art of Racing in the Rain is not an instructional manual. It if a fictitious novel that pulls at your emotions. Love, devotion, death and betrayal -- life's highs and lows, all paralleled with the sport of automobile racing and narrated by a dog name Enzo..."

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Road and Track

"If someone had told me I'd spend an entire day of airline travel (flying to Sebring) reading a work of fiction told from the point of view of a family dog, I might have been doubtful. But The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein had me riveted to its pages until the book was finished..."

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The Dalles Chronicle

Steinís book stunning

A book written from the point of view of a dog, and lies dying?

Yes it is, and ďThe Art of Racing in the RainĒ is simply superb.

Seattle writer Garth Stein has put more wisdom, humanity and insight into Enzo the dogís thoughts than are found in most human characters in most books.

Enzo is devoted to Denny Swift, a semi-pro race driver based in Seattle. From Denny he learns to love racing.

A dog of profound understanding, he curses his lack of an opposable thumb, and the big, floppy tongue that wonít allow him to form words, which he understands thoroughly.

Enzoís relationships with Denny, his wife Eve, and their daughter ZoŽ are complex and completely absorbing.

This is no Pollyanna book. Some hard things happen, but they are balanced by joy.

ďRacingĒ is sweet without bathos, profoundly moving throughout, and with a perfect ending coda.

Highly recommended.


The Seattle Times

"Stein's Enzo is the perfect narrator, wickedly observant of the world around him, even if limited in his ability to interact with humans..."

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Entertainment Weekly

My New Favorite Book
I flew back from Minneapolis last Friday night after a three-hour delay where the reasons varied from "weather" to "air traffic in Newark." At one point I wanted to go over to the gate agent and say, "Pick a story and stick to it and we just might believe you!" It was an evening where I once again gave silent thanks for my laptop's Verizon air card as I sat on the floor of the airport sending emails and IMing with the office. By the time I got home and unpacked, I was more than wide awake having passed the "tired" needle hours ago. I now was on what mothers with small children refer to as "my second wind." Thus it was time to pluck a book from the stash that I had picked up at the conference and relax by reading.

My first choice was THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein, which will be in stores on May 13th. I started reading around 11:30. At 1:30 I still was reading. I woke up at 7 and kept reading, though I really needed more sleep. Crashing back to sleep at 9, I was back reading at 11 and I finished it at 12:30. Can you tell that I LOVED this book?

It's narrated by a dog named Enzo, who is close to death, but is not despairing of this as he knows he will return to this world as a man...a smart man from what he has learned from his master Denny and from watching shows on the National Geographic Channel and Speedvision all day. Now, let me be clear. I am not into dogs. We do not have a dog. But I love wickedly clever books. Also, my husband has both raced on the amateur circuit and instructed amateur race car drivers over the years, so I know that a truly great driver knows how to drive in the rain --- and also knows the value of knowing when to pit to get rain tires put on. All this said, you need not love dogs, know one whit about car racing, or even care about car racing to enjoy this book. It's just one fun smart read with one very quotable dog. I still am laughing when I think of parts of this book. It's a great read for men, women, book clubs, has a wide audience. And I can see Enzo quoted on t-shirts in years to come. This fictional dog could become a cult figure. I kid you not.

-- Carol Fitzgerald


When writers get together, it doesnít take long for the conversation to come around to the question we always ask each other ó What are you working on?

Some writers are notoriously close-mouthed about their works-in-progress, not wanting to scare their muse into hiding. Others offer up their current projects for discussion and brainstorming, commentary or out of sheer excitement and delight.

Garth Stein fell into that category a year ago, when a group of us gathered to present at the Field's End Writersí Conference. With great enthusiasm ó and not a hint of irony ó he characterized his latest book as "Jonathan Livingston Seagull for dogs."

Garth is also the kind of writer you want to see do well. Heís incredibly nice, a generous teacher, a young father. And as a romance writer, Iím forced to tell you that heís a hottie. He has also suffered the kind of career ups and downs that win instant sympathy from anyone whoís been in the business for more than five minutes. After his first two well-received but modest-selling novels, he finished Racing and found himself looking for a new agent. He not only found one, but the deal he made for the book was reported in New York Magazine.

Now, our intrepid WritersAreReaders editor will attest that I am the most slavish of dog-lovers.

But when it comes to dog books, I am a tough sell. Let me clarify ó a tough, tough sell. The majority of dog books, both fiction and nonfiction, follow the same general storyline. A dog helps someone become a better person, and then the dog dies and the readerís heart breaks. Whenever I sit down to read a dog book, I watch closely for the inevitable signals ó old Fidoís appetite is off. Or he starts holding his head funny. Or he sleeps most of the day away. Once you start seeing those signals in the text, itís time to get out the duct tape and bind the final chapters of the book shut. (You think Iím kidding? Iím not kidding.) If it ainít Go Dog. Go!, I donít want to hear it.

So now you know my dilemma. Iíve met Garth. I like him. I want him to do well and I want to like his book. But hereís the problem. Itís a dog book. Not just any dog book, but a story told from the point of view of a dog.

With a bit of trepidation, I sat down to read it one morning. And I barely moved until Iíd finished. My own dog, Barkis, was put out with me all day, until I closed the book, hugged his neck and loved him the way Denny Swift, the bookís human protagonist, loved Enzo, the canine narrator. I half expected Barkis to say, Enzo-like, "That which you manifest is before you."

Have you noticed that so far, I havenít told you much about the story? Thatís because Iím afraid if I do, youíll be put off and I donít want you to be. I want you to read this book and love it the way I did, and maybe give it to your mom for Motherís Day or your dad for Fatherís Day.

For those of you who must know what youíre getting into, hereís a thumbnail: Denny Swift, a Formula One race car driver, young husband and new father, is observed in detail by the preternaturally wise Enzo, his loyal terrier-lab mix. Denny struggles through his career and family troubles, wrenching tragedy and redemptive moments, learning humanity from the most unlikely of sources ó his canine companion. Now, I know what youíre thinking, but youíre wrong. It kind of is like that, only better. Enzo sees the world with wry humor, a sense of wonder and other-worldly depth, and in the hands of a gifted writer, the story rings with truth.

This is a book for anyone who has ever looked into a dogís face and seen the wisdom of an old soul in his sweet brown eyes. Itís a heartfelt story of hope, redemption and the transformative power of love. And itís the next best thing to a long walk on the beach with your furry best friend.

-- Susan Wiggs

Library Journal Reviews