Editorial: ‘Tale’ kicks into high gear

Racing in the Rain’ is this year’s book pick
Thursday, January 14, 2010

If you’ve lived in Western New York for any length of time, you’ve probably become adept at driving in the snow.

The technique is a lot like racing in the rain: “Very gently. Like there are eggshells on your pedals, and you don’t want to break them.”

That’s the advice race-car driver Denny Swift shares with his dog, Enzo, in Garth Stein’s best-selling novel “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”

Stein’s novel is this year’s selection for the “A Tale for Three Counties” community reading project.

Each year about this time, the project gets into gear and helps us get through the long, cold days of winter.

The project started in 2003 is organized by the public libraries in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, and Genesee Community College. “Tale” encourages readers to pick up the same book, read and discuss it — whether in organized discussion groups or on their own — and then meet the author during a series of almost-spring visits to each county.

The first book discussion is Jan. 23 at Wyoming Free Library, and more than a dozen other discussions at various locations lead up to Stein’s visit, scheduled March 10 to 12.

If you’re among the thousands of readers who have participated before you are probably well on your way to finishing Stein’s novel.

If you’re just discovering “Tale” pick up the book and become part of a growing community of readers and friends.

Copies of “The Art of Racing in the Rain” are available for loan or purchase from local libraries, and are also being sold at local book stores.

To get you started, the first three chapters of “The Art of Racing in the Rain” were published in a special section included in the Jan. 9 edition of The Daily News.

In these opening chapters, we learned that Enzo is an extraordinary dog. One that seems almost human as he looks back on his life. Unfortunately, Enzo’s health is failing.

The novel also includes Denny’s dying wife, a custody fight for their child, and the sacrifices Denny must make.

Going through life, Enzo and Denny seem to tell us, is a lot like racing in the rain and those eggshells on the pedal.

But fear not, this is not a title to be afraid of despite its serious subplots (after all, the narrator is a dog!)

You’ll likely find “The Art of Racing in the Rain” as comfortable as Denny’s high-speed spin around a track in a souped-up Ferrari. And its hopeful ideas provide a perfect start to a new year and the pending arrival of spring.

“Tale” titles are chosen to appeal to a wide range of ages and all walks of life. This year is no different. We encourage you to pick up the book (though please refrain from reading while driving in the snow).

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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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