Monday afternoon, Diana and I took the dogs with us downtown so she could get art supplies at Art Media – a great art supply store here in Portland. On the way, she left her car at her mechanic’s shop for an oil change and headlight replacement. After the art store, we went around the block to Powell’s Books – a Portland institution since 1971 – for a late lunch in their café.
As we walked through the store, Diana’s eye was caught by The Art of Racing in the Rain – a novel by Garth Stein that I read and posted about many months ago (re-visit that post by clicking here). Over lunch in the café, I gave her a synopsis of the book, its canine narrator, Enzo, and told her how much I loved it. On the way out, after reading the first few lines to her, I bought it for her as a gift.
When we returned home, after stopping for groceries at her co-op, and a DVD of Being John Malkovich (which she’s never seen!), she started reading the book. The dogs were fed, we had beer and snacks, and we all settled in for a cozy evening by the fire…
Every so often, Diana would exclaim or laugh and we would discuss where she was in the book. If you haven’t read this book, I cannot recommend it enough! It’s beautifully written, a touching, compassionate story of a life shared by this wise dog and his owner, Denny, a race car driver. Enzo is one enlightened dog, with a good sense of humor, a sharp wit, and deep insights into life and death.
This quote from Enzo says a lot about his philosophy:
“In Mongolia, when a dog dies, he is buried high in the hills so people cannot walk on his grave. The dog’s master whispers into the dog’s ear his wishes that the dog will return as a man in his next life. Then his tail is cut off and put beneath his head, and a piece of meat or fat is placed in his mouth to sustain his soul on its journey; before he is reincarnated, the dog’s soul is freed to travel the land, to run across the high desert plains for as long as it would like.
I learned that from a program on the National Geographic channel, so I believe it is true. Not all dogs return as men, they say; only those who are ready.
I am ready.”
When Max and I went upstairs to bed, I told Diana that I thought she’d finish the book before she went to bed. This morning, she greeted me with a hug, and said, “You were right! I finished it last night…”
Who’s next? If you haven’t done so already, go out and buy a copy, or ask for it at your library, but whatever you do – read it! You’ll be glad you did…