This book is about a man and his best friend, his dog. It is narrated by Enzo, a particularly intelligent dog who likes to watch TV. I believe the film rights have been purchased some time ago. I think it would make a nice enough movie, but I think it would be difficult to get across the dog’s thoughts, which is the strength of the book. Unless they gave him a human narrative voice, which could be awful. So, I suppose that’s why they haven’t made the movie yet, nobody can work out how.
Many of my friends like to read and many of my friends a are dog people, so I know plenty of people who have read this book and found it incredibly charming. Me, not so much. I’ll explain why.
Enzo’s owner, Denny, is a racing car driver, and they watch races on TV together, while Denny explains the intricacies of race driving to his dog, hence the title. The story is really about Denny and his wife and child, and the things that happen to them, which I won’t go into here to avoid spoiling things for someone yet to read it. It’s a good story, and very easy to read, which is of course why it sold so many copies.
Enzo the dog is quite the philosopher, and he has many observations on how humans interact with each other. I find his perspective sweet and funny and I often consider his views on humans “splashing about in the bathroom” before bed whenever I am doing just that while my dog watches me.
I like dogs, and I can tell Stein likes them too from the way he has written about Enzo in this book, which is why it makes me sad that the dog in this book wants to be human. I do some work with my local dog rescue, the Southern Nevada Beagle Rescue, and I am regularly reminded by these beagles, and other dogs that I meet when I interact with other rescues, how awesome dogs can be and how utterly despicable humans can be. We rescue scarred, beaten and abused dogs that have been left on the street or dumped in a shelter by the human who chose to take on the responsibility of caring for them. Of course, human are infinitely disappointing on so many other ways, but dogs are inherently good, any bad behaviour can usually be attributed to the dog’s owner.
Enzo is an unusually gifted dog in his empathy and patience, something that so many humans seem to lack, why he would hope to be reincarnated as an inferior species is quite beyond me.