Jamie's Reviews > The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
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Jul 03, 2008

it was ok
Read in July, 2008

This book was a gift from my father-in-law, who knows that I like to read and that I like dogs. I knew the moment I read the title and looked at the cover and read the inside of the dust jacket that it wasn’t the kind of book I would ever choose for myself, but it was a gift, and I read pretty much anything whenever I have the chance to, so I decided I’d give it a shot. I made it all the way through, but barely.

The first thing I could not help but notice was the writing style, composed of simply constructed sentences and sentence fragments, presented in a generic philosophical style. My next issue was with using a dog as a first-person (er…canine) narrator. I plead guilty to anthropomorphizing my dog, but I still find it annoying when other people do it, and an entire book narrated by a philosophizing dog just doesn’t work for this story on many different, important levels. There are several funny, dear moments, but they happen rarely.

Perhaps if I was interested in car racing I would have liked this better. A huge portion of the book is spent discussing races, racing, cars, professional drivers, car racing history, and drawing analogies between car racing and life, repeated over and over in case you missed it the first, second, third, or fourth time.

The best part of the book was the first chapter, and then the second to the last chapter. In these pages, Enzo’s voice comes through clearest and most successfully. Besides Denny and Enzo, all the characters are poorly developed and function only in their role to continue the ridiculously dramatic, tabloid-worthy plot which succeeds only in provoking a sense of outrage. Between the shock-and-awe plot jumps, the story is stuffed full of mundane, pointless details and trite catch-phrases meant to be deep and meaningful. I found it to be obvious and artless.

I know a lot of people have rated this book highly, but I just can’t. It’s not a terrible book, but it’s certainly not good. Or rather, it is good in the way reading about Britney Spears’s meltdown is good, and it is good in the way listening to one of her pop songs is good. If you’re the kind of person who cringes when the song forcibly modulates up a step and back, and that’s the extent of its harmonic interest, you’ll hate this book. If you have no idea what I am talking about and love that kind of music, you may like this book. If you can’t help but notice bad writing and sentence fragments, this book will bother you. If you don’t care about stuff like that, and prefer sensationalism instead, if you just want to feel outraged and emotional and cry a bit at the unfairness of it all, this book might be for you.
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02/16 marked as: read

Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-6 of 6) </span> <span class="smallText">(6 new)</span>

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message 1: by Alice (new)

Alice Just wanted to point out that it is possible to be more critical or nuanced about one form of art than another. I love terrible pop music, but I don't like schmaltz or badly written books.


Lindsey This review is amazing. I'm so glad you pointed out how trite and repetitive this book is.


Lghamilton I love it when someone sums up my thoughts exactly, then I can just point and say "what she said." Particularly "all the characters are poorly developed and function only in their role to continue the ridiculously dramatic, tabloid-worthy plot which succeeds only in provoking a sense of outrage. Between the shock-and-awe plot jumps, the story is stuffed full of mundane, pointless details and trite catch-phrases meant to be deep and meaningful. I found it to be obvious and artless." Subtlety is not this author's strong suit.


Michelle Nudo This review is so on-point! Everything that I wanted to say about this book myself. Poor character development, cliche ending, and it read like an essay on race car driving. Not what I was expecting at all. I was actually looking for something emotional and was expecting to cry, but it didn't pull me in enough to care about any of the characters or what they were going through.


Elizabeth I hated how much racing was referenced, too! Entirely distracting and mind-numbing.


message 6: by Kim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kim Staley I just wrote a much shorter review saying many of the same things, but you said it better. Thank you.


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