Book notes

The newspaper alerts me to the publication of a literary masterpiece, a novel called The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein. Here the narrator of this momentous new book, Enzo, waxes philosophical:
“I am ready to become a man now, though I realize I will lose all that I have been. All of my memories, all of my experiences. I would like to take them with me into my next life—there is so much I have gone through with the Swift family—but I have little say in the matter. What can I do but force myself to remember? Try to imprint what I know on my soul, a thing that has no surface, no sides, no pages, no form of any kind. Carry it so deeply in the pockets of my existence that when I open my eyes and look down at my new hands with their thumbs that are able to close tightly around their fingers, I will already know. I will already see.

The door opens, and I hear him with his familiar cry, "Yo, Zo!" Usually, I can't help but put aside my pain and hoist myself to my feet, wag my tail, sling my tongue around, and shove my face into his crotch. It takes humanlike willpower to hold back on this particular occasion, but I do. I hold back. I don't get up. I'm acting.


I hear his footsteps, the concern in his voice. He finds me and looks down.”
For Enzo, you see, is a dog. And he's dying. And the book is 321 pages long:
“He is so brilliant. He shines. He's beautiful with his hands that grab things and his tongue that says things and the way he stands and chews his food for so long, mashing it into a paste before he swallows. I will miss him and little ZoĆ«, and I know they will miss me. But I can't let sentimentality cloud my grand plan. After this happens, Denny will be free to live his life, and I will return to earth in a new form, as a man, and I will find him and shake his hand and comment on how talented he is, and then I will wink at him and say, "Enzo says hello," and turn and walk quickly away as he calls after me, "Do I know you?" He will call, "Have we met before?"

After the bath he cleans the kitchen floor while I watch; he gives me my food, which I eat too quickly again, and sets me up in front of the TV while he prepares his dinner.”
As if the premise and that wonderful prose weren’t enough, supposedly the novel was inspired by hearing Billy Collins read one of his poems.

This artistic tour de force is set in various smug locations in and around Seattle (how perfect), and has been chosen by Starbucks (of course) to be conveniently located near the register, making it easy for insipid people to purchase along with their Frappuccinos.

Similar to how Stein was inspired by one of Billy Collins’s turds, The Art of Racing in the Rain has inspired me to write a novel narrated by an animal, a clever turtle named Turto. From Chapter One:
Turto small safe inside shell. Turto live in glass box now thanks to Fastmover With Hands. Fastmover With Hands bring Turto lettuce. Sometimes Turto recall pond days before Turto get found and picked up by Fastmover With Hands. Danger time was Pond Days many enemies all move so fast. Turto pull arms legs head inside shell and wait in shelldarkness. Turto good at waiting. It give Turto time to think about instigating Fascist revolution because Turto is Fascist. Turto bet you didn’t see that twist coming, did you? Turto also bet his story not get chosen to be Starbucks selection anytime soon either.


  1. Incredible. What next, a novel narrated by Billy Collins?

  2. The first 200 pages of a novel narrated by Billy Collins would be about what Billy Collins ate for breakfast, the second 200 pages would be about a squirrel Billy Collins saw as looked out the window while eating the breakfast.

  3. For some reason I've always assumed that turtles would speak in some kind of wearily intoned Delta blues derived slang. This must obviously be a figment of some undigested Disney fantasy seen many years ago.
    Therefore I suggest you send your Turto story to BET for possible script development

  4. Good idea, Fez. In fact, I think I will start sending everything I write to BET.

  5. The third two hundred pages of a novel by Billy Collins would be about the contents of what Billy threw up, and how it was just like the breakfast, that Billy just ate.

  6. Turto is very similar to Kipling's Thy Servant a Dog, proving once again that there is nothing new, nothing at all.

  7. That was funny, though I've never read it before (I imagined Turto as sort of Beckettesque reptile).

    The decline in the quality of dog narrated literature in the last 84 years is sickening, isn't it?

  8. Fly Like Me

    Summertime, and the yeasty odor of the kitchen (especially that haven near the breadbasket) sends a thrill of predestined fullness through my segmented torso. I feel my iridescent wings flex, urging me onward, ever onward. My thousand-lensed eyes peer into the vortex of air, heavy with the miasma of a passing tornado. Suddenly the air pushes against my line-streamed thorax, I sense in one great climactic moment the dark flatness of

  9. That was excellent, Rick. I appreciate your leaving out all the sordid aspects of fly existence (i.e the constant shitting). Similar to how Enzo is coming back as a man, maybe that fly will come back as a Billy Collins?

  10. I'm not ashamed to ask. Well, just a little. Who is this Billy Collins everybody is banging on about?


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