The Art of Racing in the Rain

  • MTH
    • Book Reviews
    • Garth Stein
    • Harper, 2009
    • ISBN 978-0-06-153793-7

At our first appointment the veterinarian revealed a predilection for the company of dogs over most people. Despite the guilt I felt over Mocha’s annual shots being nearly a year overdue and learning that she had been eating the kibble equivalent of a daily Big Mac and side of fries, I agreed with the sentiment.

This novel about a man and his all too human life happens to be narrated by a dog. At the end of a lifetime of careful observation and many hours of television, he has wisdom to share. While my bias is known, don’t conclude that the story’s appeal is limited to those of us who regularly invite our four legged friends up on the couch for a cuddle. Herein lies an unexpected range of emotions such that even a cat person would commend it.

Read this book to inhabit someone else’s life for a while. Don’t be surprised if you gain an appreciation for your opposable thumbs along the way.

In Mongolia, when a dog dies, he is buried high in the hills so people cannot walk on his grave. The dog’s master whispers into the dog’s ear his wishes that the dog will return as a man in his next life. Then his tail is cut off and put beneath his head, and a piece of meat or fat is placed in his mouth to sustain his soul on its journey; before he is reincarnated, the dog’s soul is freed to travel the land, to run across the high desert plains for as long as it would like.

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.

I am ready.