26 May 2011

Post 386: The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. ISBN: 9780061537936.

It is hard to describe exactly how much this book resonated with me. I am neither a dog, nor a racecar fan, but wow. Enzo managed to peg exactly how I feel about the uselessness of my situation. While he lacks thumbs and an articulate tongue, I lack a means of fully contributing to the world. Sure, I could volunteer somewhere, but volunteers are hardly given the skilled tasks or responsibilities I would need to actually feel rewarded by my services. Even part time workers at least learn some sort of skill that is difficult to adequately replace. That's why customer service sucks so hard, all the people smart and talented enough get out of it as soon as possible unless they actually happen to like it (few do). Here, let me show you what I mean:

"It's frustrating for me to be unable to speak. To feel that I have so much to say, so many ways I can help, but I'm locked in a soundproof box, a gameshow isolation booth from which I can see out and I can hear what's going on, but they never turn on my microphone and they never let me out." Page 63.

While Enzo is merely talking about his inability to speak or effectively communicate with the people around him at the surface, there is also the broader problem of being able to improve or affect the world around him. And that is exactly where I am. I feel that my potential to affect change has been severely limited by my financial circumstances and unemployment. While I have the time to volunteer right now, I often lack the motivation to do so because much of my energy is tied up in trying to find a job or being depressed at not finding one. This blog has been more of a (necessary) distraction from both of those problems, but it is once again time consuming and my audience is perhaps not wide enough to really cause any change. But here I will let Enzo's words speak for me again:

"Gestures are all I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature. And while i occasionally step over the line into the world of melodramatic, it is what I must do in order to communicate clearly and effectively." Page 1.

Maybe I can't make the change I want to make, in the way I want to make it, but I can keep writing my blog. Maybe it isn't useful for everyone, but it has been beneficial to me. And really, I would be happy to know that it led to one person thinking about their reading a little differently, or even just becoming interested in a title I've read. Already it has exposed me to more books which will hopefully someday help me be a better librarian. This is really all I ask.

After reading this, I would say that the New Dork Review of Books pegged this perfectly. So we'll stick with that review. If you don't think you're into dog books or racing metaphors, I would highly encourage you to give this a try anyway.
LibsNote: Library copy.


  1. Great review - I wish I'd thought more in my review about the specific ways the book resonated with me and what I learned from it, which you did beautifully here. Thanks for the link!

  2. Anytime, thanks for the book recommendation. It was such a great read!

  3. What a great personal review! I read this book about a month ago and it touched me as well, but I think you more accurately recounted the effects. I know exactly where you are coming from, as I'm currently unemployed and get emotionally/physically drained every day. Blogging is such a great way of knowing your not alone...a way to let your thoughts feelings be heard. The quotes you picked are perfect.

  4. Thanks Jenna,
    I tend to keep a running log of quotes in my reading journals. These hit me so hard that I knew within the first 100 pages what I was going to write about.


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