Study Guide

The Art of Racing in the Rain Genre

By Garth Stein


Fictional (Auto)biography

The genre for this book is interesting, because it is both an autobiography and a biography, but a fictional one.

Confused? So were we, but hear us out.

Enzo, the central narrator of his own story, is telling us about his life in this house of humans. But he's also telling us about the lives of his loved ones, Denny, Eve, and Zoë, including all their human shenanigans.

Since his life is so closely tied with theirs, and since he can't really do anything without them, Enzo's story could never be separate from theirs. While Enzo is absolutely a biased narrator, and while his biographical depictions of his humans are a bit skewed, no one is in a better position to talk about the inner workings of his family than he is.

Enzo's narration provides a unique perspective on Denny's life, since we're witnessing Denny's inner workings and hearing some of his internal monologue without fully getting into his head.

That leaves a lot to speculation. Enzo states that he doesn't have the ability to follow Denny into the doctor's office or the courtroom, so a lot of what he learns is drawn from his own conclusions, bits of information that he picks up from other people and during overheard conversations, and television. He also breaks the fourth wall of narration to tell us this stuff, which makes us feel special because it seems like he's talking directly to us.

For example, during the courtroom scene, especially, Enzo reminds us that they don't allow dogs in court:

Thus, the trial commenced. At least in my mind. I won't give you all the details because I don't know them. I wasn't there because I am a dog, and dogs are not allowed in court. The only impression I have of the trail are the fantastic images and scenes I invented in my dreams. (56.5)

He doesn't sound bitter at all, does he?

This is a nifty narrative strategy, given the fact that it gives us both a complete and an incomplete story. Just as Enzo meets Denny as an already fully formed adult, he doesn't get to live the entirety of Denny's life with him, and there are things that he misses out on.

Well, we just made ourselves sad.

We hope you didn't think this was nonfiction. Unless you know something we don't know about dogs and their ability to talk, in which case, please tell us, because that's pretty cool.