A good story can be told many ways and this book came to me first as a movie preview in the local independent movie theater. I love independent movie theaters with their combination of cult kitsch and intellectual superiority. I love being in old architecture, just being there soaking up the gilded plaster, heavy drapery and intricate tile in the frequently derelict old style cinemas. Art Deco, Art Nouveau, baroque, they just don’t build things like that anymore and I consider the price of the ticket worth paying just to be part of it, even just for a little while. Ayn Rand’s protagonist from The Fountainhead would not agree, his architectural ideologies diverge from mine that we shouldn’t look to the past for inspiration- while I lament its loss especially its intricate detail, skill and beauty. Rand’s philosophical novel provides a convenient bridge to this lovely story that I found as a movie, read as a book and returned, to my surprise, to see as a movie.
In short it is the memoir of the life of a dog told in the first person and his aspiration to be reincarnated as a human. After learning that my usual theater companion and patron had already seen the show I downloaded the story and began listening to it as an audio book. Occasionally my partner and son would hear and I found them also becoming engrossed in the story and even asking to out it on.
Enzo is the companion to a race car driver Denny. He is deeply invested in the sport and listens to every aspect of the sport of racing. While alone in the apartment each day he learns about humans through the television until he happens on a documentary about Mongolia in which he discovers that they believe that Dogs are the closest animals to humans and once a dog dies if it is ready, it can be reincarnated as a human. Thus Enzo attempts to learn everything he can in order to imprint his soul with the knowledge he will need in his next life as a human.
This delightful premise soon takes a sharp turn when his owner meets the love of his life Eve and marries her. Enzo is resentful of the competition but the family is soon joined by a child Zoe and things are lovely until Eve becomes terminally ill and passes away.
Enzo narrates the twists and turns of the life of the trio using the metaphors of racing as the saga unfolds repeatedly returning to his frustration at the limitations placed on him as a dog that justify his project to reincarnate into human form. Many sweet and amusing moments punctuate the tale with the book containing more adult themes, although not explicit or graphic content.
The details have been modified in the movie to accommodate the shorter run time and broader audience, as is frequently the case with cinematic adaptations, and the narration of Enzo is, in our (Robert and I both agree) opinion, much more genuine in the audio book than it was in the movie, in which it was voiced by Kevin Costner.
At a little under 7 hours of audio, it was a lovely listen.