Monday, March 22, 2010

Page 14: The Art of Racing in the Rain

In case you are one of the few who has not yet read The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein please join the majority.  This is a wonderful story narrated by a dog with the goal of becoming human in his next incarnation.  Enzo is named after a famous Formula One driver, and learns much of what he knows about life from watching television with his owner Denny.  Yes, racing is a major theme of this book, but not what you might think.  In The Art of Racing in the Rain racing is a metaphor for life and Enzo is our instructor.

The book begins with Enzo near the end of his life.  Enzo recounts the story of his family: Denny, his wife Eve, and their daughter Zoe.  Denny tries to balance his love of racing cars with his love for his family.  He faces a choice he just cannot bring himself to make.  He wants to be a full-time race car driver, but must work for his friends at a car repair shop in order to earn enough money to support his family.  The story gets very dark for Denny and it seems all is lost for him.  However, events eventually turn in the right direction with some excellent assistance from Enzo.  I don't want to say much more about the story without giving it all away.  You need to read it for yourself.  One of Enzo's favorite  quotes, "Your car goes where your eyes go," will come to have a very special meaning for you.

Garth Stein has crafted a great story from the point of view of a dog.  I was fortunate to see him give a presentation about his book at our local library a couple of weeks ago.  He is a wonderful speaker as well as a great writer.  It was standing room only.  He told us his agent refused to handle the book because it was narrated by a dog.  Garth Stein fired his agent, found another one, and the rest is history.

So take my advice, even if you are not a dog lover, read this book.  You will love it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Page 13: Game Change

Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin takes you inside the campaigns of the 2008 major presidential candidates.  This is my first non-fiction book to blog about and my impression is that it reads as well as most fiction books. 

The authors take you behind the scenes of the campaigns of the major candidates from before the Iowa Caucuses all the way to the election in November.  This book is a well written and researched account of what was happening that most of the public knew nothing about.  It includes the inside scoop on some of the candidates and their wives in full bore yelling and screaming matches laced with profanity.  Gee, they are not saints!  John McCain liked to meet with supporters in his hotel room in a dress shirt and boxers.  He also dropped the F-bomb the way most of us say hell and damn.  It was alleged that Bill Clinton was having an affair in Chappaqua while Hillary was running for President.  I guess Bill is just Bill.  There is a lot more and I think it would be better for you to read it yourself, especially the stuff about Sarah Palin.

This is also a very good account of the people managing the campaigns; including their successes, failures, and downright screwups.  Some managed to survive the entire campaign, some were fired, and most of them were on the receiving end of a lot of criticism from their respective candidates.  The animosity between the Obama and Clinton campaigns is enhanced by new insights into what was really happening at various stages of the campaign.  John Edwards does not come off well in this book and neither does his wife.  The same may be said for Rudi and Judy.

Since there was so much interest in the 2008 campaign, I can't imagine anyone who followed it closely not wanting to read this book. There are revelations that will make you laugh, some that will make you shake your head in disbelief, and others that will disappoint you.  After all, even presidential candidates have feet of clay.