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Preview — The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The movie is out! Well, almost...in a couple of days. It was exciting for me and my family to watch the process, to visit the set, to meet the stars, and to walk the red carpet! The folks at Goodreads asked me if I could add a few notes and insights to the novel, and I said sure. I haven't read the book front-to-back in years, so it was a fun process meeting Enzo all over again. I hope my comments give you a glimpse into the creative process. And please go see the movie! Tickets are available now. Best regards, Garth https://www.artofracingmovietickets.com/
Ah, Enzo! Enzo is, of course, named after Enzo Ferrari. This fact is not mentioned in the book. It's an Easter egg for those who are steeped in the history of automotive racing. I should note that, when I first started writing this book, Enzo was not named Enzo. Enzo was named Juan Pablo, after the great Colombian race car champion, Juan Pablo Montoya. When I gave my wife the first few chapters to read, she immediately said two things. First, she said, "This dog will go around the world!" Second, she said, "You can't name the dog Juan Pablo. You should name the dog Enzo." She was correct in both cases! Enzo is now in 38 languages!
In a funny coincedence I was looking for a new dog with my parents years ago. The shelter was run by this big guy with tattoos. He really love racing because all the dogs had names of cars, drivers o…
Enzo was easy to relate while reading.
My dog is named Enzo, not after Ferrari but after your Enzo 😀
Because memory is time folding back on itself. To remember is to disengage from the present.
Of course, this is the fundamental tenet of all sports: we must focus on the things we can change, and we cannot change the past or the future (I mean, without some Vulcan mind-melding power). Oddly, we teach our children this basic principle from the time they are very young: "You just missed an important free throw; now put it out of your mind." But we never tell our children that this principle is just as valid in our everyday interactions with people around us. It takes Enzo to teach us this simple lesson.
I love this! It is so relevant in my life right now. I struggle with letting go of the past and stress about the future too much. I am trying to practice remaining in the present and enjoying the her…
Valerie Campbell Ackroyd
I would amend it slightly, if we don’t focus on the present, then the future won’t be a change from the problems of the past.
I have this marked in my book. No changes necessary. Perfect as is!
The great champion Julian SabellaRosa has said, “When I am racing, my mind and my body are working so quickly and so well together, I must be sure not to think, or else I will definitely make a mistake.”
The trick in writing the book was balance: I wanted to give enough racing so racing fans would be turned-on, but not so much that a non-racer would be turned-off. So I dropped in little snippets of Enzo Racing Wisdom, like in this brief chapter, so as not to make the text too pedantic. By the way, the "great champion Julian SabellaRosa," is truly a great young man, but he's not a racer. He's my nephew, who was seven years old when I wrote the book. He is very wise, and he is a champion to me; alas, he has not won any Formula One races...
A fan “learned” this wisdom when he hesitated to think about how he had maneuvered a tight turn in times past, but this hesitation brought him to a sudden stop against wooden posts and left him with…
Garth, I would finish your answer with, “, yet”.
For me you accomplished your mission well!
I watch too much TV. When Denny goes away in the mornings, he turns it on for me, and it’s become a habit. He warned me not to watch all day, but I do.
A movie-watching, television-binging dog? What? This was all a matter of making the plot work. Enzo had to believe he would be reincarnated as a man. But how would a dog know that? He wouldn't, unless he saw the documentary I had seen when I came up with the idea for the book. Where would he see that documentary? On television! Why would he be watching television? Well, when our last dog, Comet, was a pup, I would leave the radio on for her when we went out, always changing the station so she could have variety. It made sense, then, that Denny would leave the TV on for Enzo when he went to work. Thus began the self-education of our Enzo--a twisted education, no doubt. But if YOU rarely left the house without supervision, and watched cable TV all day long, wouldn't YOU be a little twisted, too?
My friend has posted many pictures of her dog ensconced before the tv avidly watching whatever she has turned on for him. His female littermate, on the other hand, has no interest in the tv. It's ver…
You mean there are people who DON’T leave the radio or TV on for their pets? Interesting.
It’s not crazy to think Enzo would watch TV. My dog LOVES tv. There are certain commercials that he knows have dogs in them and he comes running when he hears the music for those commercials. He love…
I’ll give you a theory: Man’s closest relative is not the chimpanzee, as the TV people believe, but is, in fact, the dog.
I think on some level that must be very true especially if dog is man's best friend. Many of our human friends are our friends because they are like us have similar behaviors and similar appreciation…
Andrew Root the theologian confirms your theory in his wonderful book The Grace of Dogs, addressing specifically even the intellectual and ultimately spiritual superiority of dogs over chimpanzees. H…
Considering our parallel social evolution with canids this is not so twisted. Reference the work of Professor Brian Hare of Duke University and others.
(I mean, other than a tapeworm, which I’ve had. That doesn’t count as another life, really. That’s a parasite and should never have been there in the first place.)
I have no idea where this came from. It's one of the funniest lines in the book, and I have no idea where it's from--well, I guess I do have an idea: it was when I was channeling my character. This is all Enzo.
Did I see her? I practically birthed her!
I love the way Enzo owns the things he loves. When he loves it, he posesses it entirely. He feels responsible for Zoe's birth! I wish people loved those around them with such conviction! I think we should all be more like dogs! You know. In a good way.
Claudia de Oliveira
This is beautiful! Dogs are so devoted to their humans...
Always makes me smile.
I love this because our dog believes our youngest is hers. She is devoted to her and is frantic is she thinks something is wrong. Our dog loves us all but definitely has a favourite.
“I didn’t know you were a television dog,” he said. “I can leave it on for you during the day, if you want.”
When I was a little kid, like four or five, on Sunday mornings, my dad, our dog, and I would sit out on the enclosed patio with the black-and-white Zenith and watch Formula One racing. I'm pretty sure Muggs was very interested in the outcome of those races...
I had already smelled it.
This transition is so casual, so chatty, so innocent, and so quickly turns into a very tragic revelation, I'm shocked by it, myself. Which speaks to inspiration, and the ideas of art and craft. We can learn all the rules and understand how to logically present a scene, but until the characters take it over and do things on their own, we haven't achieved the art.
Just this short quote makes me tear up immediately.
I have a friend who is certified in training dogs to detect cancer. Or communicate that to their human handler. Just got home from the movie; LOVED IT!
My cat kept sniffing my right breast (through my clothes) for some time before I was diagnosed with cancer. He never did it once the cancer was removed.
And there was nothing I could do to help her.
This is it, right? Enzo's internal struggle. It raises him to almost legendary status, right? Like the Greek myths? Cassandra: blessed to read the future; cursed to never be believed. In this moment, Enzo becomes iconic.
And I wasn’t gone. I was there. I was still there.
The whole zebra sequence started as a warm-up writing exercise I gave myself one morning. I said, "before we get to work on the book, let's see what Enzo is made of. Let's put him under pressure." Kind of an Ender's Game acid test. So I contrived to lock him in the house, alone, for three days. What could go wrong? Well, the zebra could show up...
A very vivid scene...that bad zebra!!
The extended "scene" when Denny got home and got angry ( putting it mildly) at Enzo was also a tear jerker for me. So unlike Denny and his relationship with Enzo. And then Enzo, of course, immediatel…
Claudia de Oliveira
Yes, dogs and their compassion towards intolerance. Pure love, isn't it? Why couldn't we be more like them? Who's the smarter one, uh?
Often things happen to race cars in the heat of the race. A square-toothed gear in a transmission may break, suddenly leaving the driver without all of his gears. Or perhaps a clutch fails. Brakes go soft from overheating. Suspensions break. When faced with one of these problems, the poor driver crashes. The average driver gives up. The great drivers drive through the problem. They figure out a way to continue racing. Like in the Luxembourg Grand Prix in 1989, when the Irish racer Kevin Finnerty York finished the race victoriously and later revealed that he had driven the final twenty laps of ...more
I see green as gray. I see red as black. Does that make me a bad potential person? If you taught me to read and provided for me the same computer system as someone has provided for Stephen Hawking, I, too, would write great books. And yet you don’t teach me to read, and you don’t give me a computer stick I can push around with my nose to point at the next letter I wish typed. So whose fault is it that I am what I am?
I love Enzo's desperate appeal to the reader at this moment. "Just give me a Stephen Hawking computer and I'll explain everything to you!" I mean, to Enzo, the solution is that simple. Of course, we readers recognize that he's skipping a few steps in his process...
But he’s pretty damn insightful. Love the Hawkins idea!
I think they DOOO want to talk and communicate to us...by talking or in this case a computer!
Dog cognition researcher Brian Hare from Duke University has actually done that, substituting keys with symbols so that dogs can express their desires. So far it seems to work but I don't think the t…
I cannot lie still. I cannot be alone with this. I need to scream and thrash, because it stays away when I scream. When I’m silent, it finds me, it tracks me down and pierces me and says, “Now I’ve got you! Now you belong to me!”
For years, my wife suffered from migraine headaches, sometimes quite debilitating. One day, in our kitchen, I asked her to describe the pain to me, and this is what she said to me. So I took it and put it in my novel. Thank you, my love. People have no idea how much you have given to this book.
People have asked me why I don't just lie down in a dark room with a cool cloth on my head. This is why. 100% accurate.
Claudia de Oliveira
Yes, damn migraines! Thanks for bringing light to this. They are that terrible and this description is so on point.
This is something I’d heard him say before: getting angry at another driver for a driving incident is pointless. You need to watch the drivers around you, understand their skill, confidence, and aggression levels, and drive with them accordingly. Know who is driving next to you. Any problems that may occur have ultimately been caused by you, because you are responsible for where you are and what you are doing there.
There is an apocryphal story of a NASCAR coach saying, "I don't care if you get hit by a bolt of lightning in turn 4 at Daytona, it's STILL your fault for being where the lightning wanted to hit!"
Sounds like the insurance companies after an accident I had. Even tho the other driver was distracted, ran the red light, & broadsided me in the intersection, it was 10% my fault for being there…
The thing I liked best about the whole novel was quotes like this. It not only explained Enzo, but it explained LIFE. It was a series of thoughts that could be applied to anybody who wants to live a…
Agreed. I drive my Miata like this every single time I'm behind the wheel, and I instill it with young drivers I instruct. "The only person who cares about you when you're driving is you."
I learned that from a program on the National Geographic Channel, so I believe it is true. Not all dogs return as men, they say; only those who are ready.
The first idea for this book came to me when I saw a docu-drama made in Mongolia about this concept: that the next incarnation for their dogs will be as people. However, I did not see this documentary on the National Geographic channel. At the time, I was making documentary films and a friend of mine gave me a Mongolian film called, "State of Dogs." It's a challenging film for a number of reasons, but it did inspire me to explore the idea of transmogrification and dog souls. The insightful, humorous tone of Enzo, came not from that film, but from a Billy Collins poem called The Revenant. I encourage you to seek it out on the Internet.
us. It was beautiful, a 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV in pine green with a factory-installed fabric sunroof,
I was corrected by many Alfisti on this topic: there were no factory installed sunroofs on Alfas; it was always an aftermarket customization. I made up for my gaff by purchasing a 1974 Alfa GTV 2000 (without a sunroof), which is my favorite car!
Here’s why I will be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot speak, so I listen very well. I never interrupt, I never deflect the course of the conversation with a comment of my own.
This is another insightul observation Enzo brings to the story. It occured to me when I was watching Wallace and Gromit with my kids one day. In that man-and-his-dog story, Gromit, the dog, is far more intelligent than Wallace, and yet Gromit has no mouth! He is mute. Because he's a dog.
Such a worthy goal: to be a good person by not only avoiding interruptions, but also to avoid deflecting the conversation by one’s own comment. I chide myself for thinking of my own response instead…
Being a good listener is almost a lost art. But I love Enzo’ desire and reasons to be human. He has a ton of them!
Listening imay become a lost art in our future. I wish more people would talk to their dog or cat before texting or saying what they feel in the mment. Slow down and take time to think before you spe…
I was disheartened. Clearly, the weekend of respite Maxwell and Trish had offered Denny was a false one. I had no clear evidence, and yet I could sense it. For the Twins, it had been a working weekend, an effort to establish an agenda. They were already sowing the seeds of their story, spinning the yarn of their propaganda, prophesying a future they hoped would come true.
Enzo really is a keen observer. This tender moment between Zoe and him is something that he experiences without Denny, and it gives us insight into the emotional turmoil Zoe is experiencing.
That was not what I meant at all. My feelings were so complicated, I have difficulty explaining them with any clarity even today, after I have lived through it and had time to reflect upon it. All I could do was move to her bedside and lie down before her like a rug. “I don’t like seeing me like this either,” she said.
“I care what I look like,” she said, trying to muster her old Eve smile. “When I look at you, I see my reflection in your eyes. I don’t want to be ugly in front of you.” Denny turned away as if to shield his eyes from her, as if to take away the mirrors. He looked out the window into the backyard, which was lit with lights along the patio’s edge and more lights that were suspended in the trees, illuminating our lives. Out there, beyond the light, was the unknown. Everything that wasn’t us. “I’ll pack Zoë’s things and come back in the morning,” he said, finally, without turning around.
This is an important moment. Eve doesn't want Denny to see her ill, but he doesn't see her illness, he only sees his love for her, so he wants to stay. Still, his love for her is so great, he sets aside his own feelings and honors hers. An example of true love, I think.
To live every day as if it had been stolen from death, that is how I would like to live. To feel the joy of life, as Eve felt the joy of life. To separate oneself from the burden, the angst, the anguish that we all encounter every day. To say I am alive, I am wonderful, I am. I am. That is something to aspire to. When I am a person, that is how I will live my life.
This really is the zenith of living in the moment. Eve only achieves this spiritual state when she accepts that she will die soon. How do we translate that to our daily lives? It's a challenge, as Enzo tells us. It takes mental, physical, and spiritual preparation. It CAN be achieved, but not accidentally. It must be achieved with great deliberation.
That which is around me does not affect my mood; my mood affects that which is around me.
This is a life lesson I have struggled with, myself. We often let the turkeys get us down, don't we? How can we change our own energy and then project that energy on the world around us? It's a trick. But when we do it, it really works! We should strive to not be host to the virus of loneliness...
Your commentary here, just is wonderful. The turkeys! A host to the virus of loneliness! Thank you for providing such wonderful insight and notes; all of these are wonderful.
to not be host to the virus of loneliness.....What an inspirational thought. As a person who lives alone I can attest to the success of following these words.
We need a love emoji
While I, too, admire and try to emulate Emmo, I still think that I would like to drive like Ayrton Senna, full of emotion and daring. I would like to have packed our necessities in the BMW, driven by Zoë’s school one day to pick her up unannounced, and then headed directly for Canada. From Vancouver, we could have driven east to Montreal—where they have many fabulous road courses and where they host a Formula One Grand Prix every summer—to live by ourselves in peace for the rest of our lives.
If you think about it, Enzo is Denny's alter ego. Denny is so calm and steadfast and deliberate, whereas Enzo is impulsive, judgmental and rash. Together, they make a whole, don't they? I don't know what it would look like but a Denny/Enzo hybrid person would be the ultimate person, don't you think?
I crouched in my stance right there, inside the house, and I shat a massive, soupy, pungent pile of diarrhea on his beautiful, expensive, linen-colored Berber carpet.
You see? Denny's alter ego. Denny would never have done such a thing! But we LOVE that Enzo did it on Denny's behalf!
And so my imaginary friend does things for me. If you are mean to someone, King Karma will swoop out of the sky and call you names. If you kick someone, King Karma will bound from an alley and kick you back. If you are cruel and vicious, King Karma will administer a fitting punishment.
“DON’T YOU EVER DRIVE LIKE THAT! DENNY IS A PROFESSIONAL RACE CAR DRIVER AND THAT’S NOT HIS CAR! HE DOESN’T HAVE TO PAY FOR IT IF HE BREAKS IT!”
Don Kitch is a real person. He owns the school where I learned to race. He taught me to race! And he gave me the title, from a handout he had in his racing school... Anyway, this is EXACTLY something he would say!
agenda. A woman scorned, indeed! Kate Hepburn would smash her with a single blow and laugh while doing it.
No one has ever asked me about this. When I was a kid, my mother used to say, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." I wondered where it was from. "Shakespeare," she told me. So I associated the phrase with Katherine Hepburn, who was in The Taming of the Shrew, bercause I was a kid, and what did I know? But it turns out, the quote wasn't from Shakespeare--it was in a play by William Congreve. So these sentences are PACKED with meaning. To me. But probably not to anyone else. (Just saying. It's MY book. I can do stuff like this--and I'm not even telling you ALL the stuff, either! There's more!)
Ha! A metaphor, she said! Fantastic! This one knows how to decode the English language! We will save her for roasting tomorrow!
I can't tell you how happy I was when my copy editor--the one who goes through every single word to make sure the manuscript is correct in all its usages--made a special note on this sentence: "I literally laugh out loud whenever I read this." That was cool.
Had I known I was meeting Denny’s parents, I might have acted more receptive to these strangers. I had been given no advance notice, no warning, and so my surprise was completely justified. Still, I would have preferred to greet them like family.
When I was writing the book, I thought it was important to remind us that Enzo is only telling us what he sees and knows. Denny had an entire life BEFORE he met Enzo, and sometimes that life spills into Enzo's life in real ways.
They left the next morning. Like the last strong autumn wind that rattles the trees until the remaining leaves fall, brief but powerful was their visit, signaling that the season had changed, and soon, life would begin again.
The only impressions I have of the trial are the fantastic images and scenes I invented in my dreams. The only facts I know are the ones I gathered from Denny’s retelling of events; my only idea of a courtroom, as I have said before, is what I learned from watching my favorite movies and television shows. I pieced together those days as one conjures a partially completed jigsaw puzzle—the frame is finished, the corners filled in, but handfuls of the heart and belly are missing.
Okay, so this is me using my writerly license to basically do anything I want, including have Enzo use Stephen Hawkings's voice generator. I mean, I got myself into a place where, narratively, there's no way I can have Enzo see things he can't possibly see. So how do we get out of it? A little writer's magic!
“Yes, Judge Van Tighem,”
There's a real guy. He wrote a story about my second novel, way back in 2005, when he was a reporter in Walla Walla, WA. His name was Gregory Van Tighem. And I said, I'm going to use your name one day. And I did. And he saw it and he emailed me: "there are 4 Van Tighems in the world, so you must have remembered to use my name."
“Inside each of us resides the truth,” I began, “the absolute truth. But sometimes the truth is hidden in a hall of mirrors. Sometimes we believe we are viewing the real thing, when in fact we are viewing a facsimile, a distortion. As I listen to this trial, I am reminded of the climactic scene of a James Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun. James Bond escaped his hall of mirrors by breaking the glass, shattering the illusions, until only the true villain stood before him. We, too, must shatter the mirrors. We must look into ourselves and root out the distortions until that thing which we ...more
This cracks me up. Isn't it just like Enzo to expound upon James Bond when he finally gets a microphone and a room full of people listening to him?
As if I couldn’t love the book and Enzo any more completely already, you just had to throw in a James Bond reference for good measure. And then you turned it into a fantastic metaphor! I’m in awe, si…
rang. Since his hands were covered with sticky oatmeal goop, he tapped the speaker button on the kitchen phone.
Because we only can experience the story through Enzo's eyes, I couldn't let Denny have a telephone conversation that we couldn't overhear. So I gave him a job that made his hand sticky: baking cookies. Batter on your fingers, hit the speakerphone button, right? And that worked...see the end of the chapter...
They said their good-byes, and Denny pressed the button with his pinkie. He crouched down and held out his sticky hands for me, and I obligingly licked them clean. “Sometimes I believe,” he said to me as I indulged in the sweetness of his hands, of his fingers, of his opposable thumbs. “Sometimes I really do believe.”
Enzo gets to overhear all that's going on; that's the physical level of what's going on. And we get to hear the conversation too. That makes the mechanics of the scene work. But then what does Denny do, in his joy? He allows Enzo to lick the cookie batter off of his hands. Denny's hands. The things that Enzo wants most in the world--DENNY'S HANDS! Figuratively, Enzo is INGESTING Denny's hands. Symbolically, we know now, as we read the book, that Enzo WILL achieve his goal of being reincarnated as a person. Done. Case closed. Your conscious mind might not know it yet, but your subconscious already knows...
When I first wrote the book, the epilogue wasn't a part of it. The book ended with Enzo running off into the endless golden fields. I sent it to my agent, and he hated it. He said he couldn't sell it. So I fired him. And every other agent I tried said the same thing: we can't sell a book narrated by a dog. And I wondered, why not? Because dogs don't have "human" thoughts? What if Enzo is already dead at the beginning, I thought. What if he's in doggie heaven, waiting for his new incarnation? Surely, a doggie angel can have "human" thoughts. Okay, I thought, so how would that story end? It would end with Enzo becoming a little boy again. So I wrote that scene. I gave up on the "doggie heaven" idea, but I kept that final scene--this one--because I think people really want a sense of closure. And even though we cynically say, "Oh, it's a fairy tale?" my resonse is, yes, it is a fairy tale. And in a fairy tale, dreams come true...
I loved the ending
I think I would have loved the story just as much without the epilogue, using my imagination to think of what Enzo became. Because he surely became something more than Dog.
After I finished the book, and before I went to see the movie, I did two things. First I regained my composure, which took some time and attention from my wife. Second I emailed my editors pointing o…