Despite being an enthusiastic proponent of Shakespeare’s tragedies and the memoirs of women who’ve escaped from FLDS communities, I am uneager to read the wide range of available tear-jerking novels. I had my Holocaust lit. phase but no more; I’d rather not read than have to endure someone’s suffering physical or emotional abuse, abandonment and disease.
That being said, we all need something to do on the five-hour drives between Montreal and Toronto. This time, my mother popped in Garth Stein‘s The Art of Racing in the Rain. This one was suggested to my mother, a huge fan of the tearjerker, by a cousin. We chose the audiobook out of convenience this time, but audiobooks have been my mom’s go-to medium since her days working home-care.
This is a story about a man and his terminally ill wife, young daughter, and racing career. It is told from the perspective of his very old dog, who is preparing to die and hopes to become a human in his next life. While this perspective could have come off as cheesy, I think Stein took pains to make Enzo’s observations astute and witty, mixing high language with the pop culture references that the dog soaked up sitting home each day while his master led is own life. It is the sometimes dry, often generous humor amid life’s ups and downs that make me want to recommend the book. No matter how much life crapped on Denny, Enzo’s master (and it’s that crapping-on that makes me incapable of handling your run-of-the-mill tear-jerker), the dog could always evoke a laugh out of his master…and his audience.
I highly recommend listening to this book rather than reading it. While I’m sure it’s enjoyable to read, I find it easier to suspend my disbelief in the dog’s higher-level thinking by hearing his thoughts aloud, spoken by a voice capable of delivering Enzo’s wit, rather than seeing it as if he typed it up on a typewriter while his master was out running errands.
Stopping there, I will leave you with the following question: is listening to an audio book still reading?