Study Guide

The Art of Racing in the Rain Setting

By Garth Stein


Washington State; Imola, Italy

Rain and Coffee Beans

No, this book isn't a giant Washington cliché. We don't see any hipsters drinking cold brews out of mason jars or talking about the irony of things, and Denny doesn't wear large frame glasses and flannel shirts. Or, well, he might wear flannel shirts, because flannel shirts are comfortable, but if he does, it's not mentioned.

Since this is book is probably set in Washington in mid to late 90s or early 2000s, the hipster movement hasn't quite kicked in yet. And you know, since Enzo is a dog, he probably wouldn't really care about fashion or culture movements unless they pertained to his family, and these folks aren't particularly into it.

Utilizing Washington as the setting for this story seems less a matter of convention than of preference, we think. Since Garth Stein lives in Seattle with his family, and since people always tell authors that they should write about what they know (somewhat questionable advice, but whatever), he probably modeled Enzo's setting after his own home. Smart move, because it means he could have his art imitate his life.

What is interesting about the setting itself is what Enzo chooses to highlight and focus on. He mentions houses and apartments and can vaguely distinguish between the differing social statuses of Denny's friends and family, but he doesn't hone in on it much more than that.

Instead, Enzo focuses on the beauty of Denny Park or the beach, the feeling of going for a walk with the misting rain sticking to his whiskers, or his love of wide open spaces and water views, since he is part water dog on his mother's side (4.1).

Through Enzo's description of the setting, we get a pretty good picture of the world he and the Swift family inhabit, and of how the weather affects their moods and actions, and, on occasion—usually when it snows—how it affects what happens to them. All in all, Washington sounds like a nice place to live. Maybe not so much now that it has a hipster infestation problem, but in ten, fifteen years, who knows?