I’m a sucker for books with unconventional narrators (Budo from Matthew Dicks’ Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Death from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, etc.) and this is no exception. Enzo the dog is looking for meaning in his life, believing that a dog who is prepared can be reincarnated in the afterlife as a human. Apparently, Garth Stein was inspired by a Mongolian film titled State of Dogs, which (not being a Mongolian film aficionado) I’ve never heard of before, but now would really like to see. There’s a really lovely review from the Toronto Star here that incorporates an interview with Stein about the process of writing this book.
Enzo’s unfailing love for his owner Denny, his sharp and innocent observations and his bright energy make him a charming hero of a narrator, and there are plenty of great twists and turns that kept me reading all the way through. There’s lots of detail about race car driving in this one (Denny in the book is a race car driver, and evidently it’s a passion of Stein’s as well), which is apparently very accurate.
I read this lovely little book in one sitting with a mug of tea in one hand and a box of Kleenex in the other. It’s sweet and sad and charming and touching if you’re a dog lover. Samson got an extra pat on the head when this one was finished. He’s 15, and if he gets reincarnated as a human at the end of his life, he’ll be the loveliest (albeit laziest) man around.