Book Review:”The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein Pt3

Interview: Garth Stein on The Art of Racing in the Rain
Q:The racing scenes deliver a real adrenaline rush and a feel for the intricacies of the sport. Is this seemingly expert knowledge based on personal experience or extensive research?
A:When I moved back to Seattle in 2001, I got involved in “high performance driver education,” which is a fancy way of saying I learned to drive a car really fast on a race track. That soon led to my getting my racing license with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). While I did fairly well as a driver (I won the points championship in the NW region Spec Miata class in 2003), I didn’t really have the skill as a mechanic or the time and money needed to really excel. When I crashed my car pretty badly—ironically, while racing in the rain—I decided to semi-retire from racing, and now I only race enough to keep my license current.
The funny thing is that while I love cars, I never really thought of myself as a “car guy.” When I finished the draft of this book, my wife said, “So that’s why you were racing. You were doing research!” I guess, on a subconscious level, that’s what I was doing

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Q: The custody battle between the widower Denny and the parents of his late wife is ugly and horrible, with the latter trying to manipulate the outcome by any means necessary. Is this over the top portrayal meant to be colored by Enzo’s strong feelings of loyalty?
A: Any narrative point of view is biased—the narrator has his opinions—and Enzo is extremely biased toward all things Denny and family. So what Enzo relates to us is filtered through a couple of things: first, being a dog, he’s limited in what he is allowed to see; second, being so devoted to his master, his opinions are all highly skewed.
That being said, I have spoken with attorneys who have assured me that in custody and visitation battles, especially ones involving grandparents, things can get extremely ruthless, and it is not inconceivable that, for instance, one side might try to drag things out in order to put the other party into extreme economic distress.
Q: What lessons can we all learn from Enzo?
A: I’m not sure that’s for me to judge. But I would say the important things for me are twofold.
First, Enzo’s mantra: “That which you manifest is before you.” I think it’s very important to take charge of your life, not to feel like you’re a victim of circumstance or fate, but that you are an active participant in your future. It’s not a new idea: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” (Lennon/McCartney) Where I focus my energy always matches what comes back to me in my life.
Secondly, Enzo’s epiphany—the thing he learns at the end of his life—is that his assumption that race car drivers have to be selfish to be successful, is incorrect. In fact, he determines, in order to be successful, a race car driver has to be completely selfless. He must cease looking at himself as the brightest star in the solar system, and begin to see himself as simply a unique aspect of the universe around him—and, most importantly, as an extension of the universe around him. In this way, a race car driver sheds his ego; his actions become pure and as powerful as the entire universe, which in turn leads to success.
All athletes speak about the mental element of athletics, and it usually boils down to the same thing: if you can remove your ego from the game, you can function with much more clarity and you are more likely to succeed. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we all began speaking about the mental element of our lives in this way? How would our lives change if we did?

Thanks to HarperCollins and GoEnzo.com


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