Let me start by saying I wasn’t inclined to like the book. A story told from a dog’s point of view about car racing was an initial turn-off and seemed destined for my pile of unfinished books. I was wrong. Both about not liking it and in what I thought it was about.
Read well before my summer splurge, Stein’s book has stuck with me. Maybe that is an indicator of how good a book is. Instead of stars for how much I like it at the moment, I should give it from one to five calendar pages for how long I remembered and thought about it. This book would get a solid 5 calendar pages, as I read it back in February and it still resonates with me.
Stein was brilliant to tell the story from the dog’s perspective. No, I don’t believe that a dog has such higher level thinking, but this is fiction. And Stein’s imagery, language and tone “fit” with what I would expect from the mind and soul of a smart, loyal four-legged companion. Enzo is a believable “character” and I don’t think the story could be conveyed more effectively using any other narrator. By limiting us to what Enzo can see, smell, taste or hear, we are pulled along emotionally and dramatically through the tale’s unfolding.
But it isn’t just Enzo’s unique perspective of things gives the story life. His master’s love of car racing provides a metaphor for life that is all at once beautiful, thrilling and tragic. And I don’t even like car racing. But the way Stein shows it, it is more than just laps around a track. There is meaning and sense and power and skill and honor and action and reaction. And all of those things are brought to play out in this story that is markedly not about dogs or car racing.
What it is about is family, love, loyalty and hope. In my brief comments on my Goodreads page, I said it was a tightly written, fantastic book with a lot to say about life. In fact, I have several sticky notes on the front of my computer monitor with quotes from this book, as it easily lends itself to being quoted. Yet, in some ways, the book is almost too pithy. And its ending… well, I can forgive it because I love the rest of the book so much. And even with its few weaknesses, I still think it’s worth keeping on the shelf and reading again.
Do you agree? What did you think about it? Any recommendations for other good books to read?