Recently, as in for the past several months, my mom has been thrusting her latest reads upon me and insisting that I read them, that I will love them. Typically the two of us don’t share interest in the same books. Our literary tastes just don’t jive. But lately it has been different, each book I’ve borrowed from her has blown me away. Okay, so there have only been three so far, but I have loved them all.
I won’t go into detail with all of them as that will surely cause severe boredom. The first two were Sarah’s Key and The Help. I highly recommend both. If you would like to chat about either book, we can do that at another time.
The last book my mom had me read was incredible in a totally different fashion. It shouldn’t have taken me over a week to read The Art of Racing in the Rain, but my schedule kept forcing me to put the book down. Each time I sat down to read, I had to remind myself that a. Enzo is a dog and b. this is not a real story.
Perhaps I should begin by saying that when I was growing up my family had a shepherd mix named Becki, the most human of any dog I’ve ever encountered. She was there for all of those major events in my life between elementary school and college and was the best friend of all four of us–my parents, my brother, and I. My dad has also always been a huge fan of auto racing. I grew up with Indy Car racing on the TV and names like Schumacher, Fittipaldi, Earnhardt, and Andretti in my vocabulary. We had model cars and posters strewn all over the house in a collection of my dad’s. It was as if this book was written for us. Through Enzo (or Garth Stein as Enzo) I imagined what Becki must have been actually thinking. No, it was not separation anxiety that caused her to tear up couch pads, carpeting, my watch, dry wall, and various other household items, it was the zebra. Or whatever her version of Enzo’s zebra might have been.
I typically rate a writer and his or her work based on the journey while reading and the emotional effect I am left with while I digest the piece. I was so absorbed in The Art of Racing in the Rain, it was as if I was living that moment. I feel disgustingly cliche and sappy saying so, but I’d be lying if I denied it and that is the best way to describe it. I lost myself in the book. When I finished, I was on the train commuting home from work and the only thing keeping me from bawling was the fact that people would see me. My eyes welled up and I sniffed like a stubborn little kid who won’t blow her nose. I definitely got stares and I’m sure the man sitting across from me saw that I was holding back tears. I hate crying in public and I only hoped that anyone who noticed my state of overwhelming emotion would also notice that I was reading a book. I would have cried regardless as I cry whenever something like that happens involving a beloved animal. (I’m not giving anything away, you find out within the first couple of pages). What got me most was that it brought me back to Becki and how she didn’t seem to age until her last year and it went so fast from there with her spinal arthritis. I just wonder if what Enzo said about dogs is true (and here I cannot divulge any more at risk of spoiling some wonderful Enzo-ness). Enzo is a great name for a dog.
(And here I must apologize for any atrocious grammatical errors as it is past my bedtime and I have been up since early in the morning. I’m not all there although I seem to write my thoughts best at this hour.)