Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, totally worn out and screaming,
"WOO HOO, what a ride!"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Authors I have met, kind of... part II

I got to meet another author online in a club recently who was so accommodating. Garth Stein, who wrote The Art of Racing In The Rain, participated with us for a month. This book was a special project for him and was very near and dear to his heart. Of course all writing is a special project to a writer but this was one of those books that was just begging him to be written. He was already involved with another draft but this one would not leave him alone. He had taken an idea from a documentary about Mongolia that revealed their truth: when a dog is finished living his lifetimes as a dog, his next reincarnation will be as a man. Stein took this idea and ran with it. What made this truly his own was combining this theme with his love of car racing. An unusual pairing? I certainly thought so. Effective? I definitely thought so.

Enzo, a Labrador/Terrier mix is the narrator and best friend of his owner Denny Swift. This book begins near the end of Enzo's life. He is old and in poor health but he is content knowing that he will be returning in his next life as a man, his greatest dream. He considers himself to have a nearly human soul already after a lifetime of educating himself and paying attention to all of life's lessons. He also shares Denny's passion as a race car driver, listening to all of the stories, watching racing videos and documentaries. As a puppy, the best friends shared bachelorhood days but soon they add to their family when Denny marries and has a child. They live a charmed life until tragedy strikes their tight knit clan. This is the beginning of an unraveling that they don't know how to recover from. It almost appears that nothing may ever go right for them again. They cling to hope and remind themselves and the reader, That which you manifest is before you. Using lessons and techniques learned especially in racing they apply them to life and decide to create their own destiny. Enzo vows to set this family back on course and sets a plan in motion.

I loved the book and I loved the club. And to make it even better, Garth's wife Drella had been reading the posts and decided to join us. She is also a very creative artist so we got a two-for-one special! Actually we only picked her brain the first few days about life with an author before she politely asked us to just consider her as only another club member. The Steins posted comments and answers to our questions every single day. When Garth was away for a weekend of racing himself, he phoned in his race results and special hellos to Drella who then passed them all on to us. He earned himself many fans when he wrote this book but he earned himself even more when he went over and above with his club participation. He and his book get both thumbs up from me (thumbs play an important role in this story) and I look forward to what he will be writing next. Having an interest in dogs and/or racing may make you appreciate this story more but you definitely don't need them to enjoy it. Be prepared to laugh and cry and to learn a few lessons as well.

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