Sunday, August 09, 2009

Summer Reading

There are four weeks of summer left before Labor Day, and hopefully some vacation or beach time beckons you to relax and enjoy the season.

If you're looking for a good book, I suggest you try "The Art of Racing in the Rain," by Garth Stein. Not since Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" have I experienced such difficulty disengaging myself from a novel.

The story is told in the first person by Enzo, a delightfully wise and witty dog somewhat akin to Mr. Peabody in the old "Rocky and His Friends" cartoon. Enzo has a comparably wide expanse of knowledge and articulateness. But it's not so much facts and explanations that Enzo imparts to the reader as insights and experiences he has acquired throughout a long and eventful life.

Enzo's master is his beloved Denny, a blue collar automobile lover who marries a girl from the well-heeled side of the tracks. Their love is true, and so are their sorrows. Any reader who has suffered because of finances, illness, grief, loss, and injustice will find much in Enzo's eloquent narrative to identify with. Similarly, anyone who has ever triumphed over terrible odds will have much reason to rejoice.

Enzo is an old dog, feeble and in pain, and readers know how writers usually treat endings in such canine tales. As a dog lover, the outcomes are usually deflating to me. But this book is different. Without spoilers, I can assure you that the conclusion to "Racing in the Rain" is uplifting rather than sad.

In fact, in my highest compliment to a novel, I could read it again. With a long weekend coming up, I just might.

Good dog, Enzo.