By Ben Beagle
Monday, September 21, 2009
Garth Stein’s novel about an extraordinary mutt, “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” was revealed tonight as the 2010 selection for the “A Tale for Three Counties” community reading project.
The announcement was made simultaneously at four of the project’s participating libraries: Richmond Memorial Library and Alfred C. O’Connell Library at Genesee Community College, both in Batavia, Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, Medina; and Perry Public Library, Perry.
The libraries were decorated with racing flags and paw prints. Snacks included dog-boned shaped cookies and “Muddy Buddies,” a snack also known as “puppy food” that was served in dog dishes. Books were available for purchase and the events, and will be available through area libraries and bookstores.
Libraries in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties started the reading project in 2003. The project includes book discussions during January and February and visits to each county by the author in March.
“The Art of Racing in the Rain” is the eighth book to be featured in the “Tale” project.
Stein’s novel, published in May 2008, is told from the perspective of Enzo, a philosophizing dog taking stock of his life on the eve of his death. Enzo recalls all that he and his family have been through, the sacrifices of his master Denny Swift, a professional race car driver; the unexpectd loss of Denny’s wife, Eve, and the three-year battle with his wealthy in-laws over custody of his daughter Zoe.
Enzo is portrayed as a deep-thinker, who has learned much by watching television and listening to his owner’s musicings on life and auto racing. But Enzo is frustrated that he can’t communicate with anything other than gestures — a bark, a tail wag, for example. Enzo also believes in reincarnation, having seen a National Geographic Channel documentary ont he subject, and prepares diligently for the moment his soul returns to earth in a human form and he can become a gifted race car driver.
A film adaptation is in development, with Patrick Dempsey (”Grey’s Anatomy”) in the Denny role.
“The Art of Racing in the Rain” has been a New York Times bestseller, and on the IndieBound bestseller list since its publication. The trade paperback has been that category’s fifth- or sixth-best-selling book for months. The novel was the top BookSense selection for June 2008 and a Starbucks book selection for spring/summer 2008.
Stein’s previous novel, “How Evan Broke His Hand and Other Secrets,” won a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award and was a BookSense pick in both hardcover and paperback.
Stein, a Los Angeles native who grew up in Seattle, has written three novels, aa full-length play and produced a number of award-winning documentaries (He earned a master of fine arts degree in film from Columbia University in 1990). He lives with his wife, three sons and their dog Comet in Seattle, Wash.
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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation