Here at the library we strive to have a balanced collection that expresses many different viewpoints. We have gotten a few complaints this year that our selection for Everett Reads!, The Art of Racing in the Rain, might be a tad pro dog. It is a charge that we take seriously.
In the interest of balance we have invited a guest blogger, Cora the Cat, to give us her views on our Everett Reads! selection and in particular the psychological state of the narrator Enzo. Be warned. Cora’s observations are intelligent, witty and a little scathing. But, really, what else would you expect from a feline?
Dear A Reading Life,
I submit that due to multiple unresolved traumas, the unfortunate canine in The Art of Racing in the Rain suffered increasingly profound mental illness, culminating in a psychotic rupture.
I understand there can be valid reasons for using a canine as literary narrator. Serious works by Cervantes, Gogol, Bulgakov and Kafka have used this literary device “to provide commentary on issues such as moral behavior, musical aesthetics, the writer’s art, the limits of science, and the approach of modernity” (1). In The Art of Racing in the Rain, however, using this canine for this purpose is rendered futile by the animal’s deteriorating mental state.
In addition to limited intelligence, canines have extremely weak ego structures, indeed functioning nearly as parasitic appendages of their human hosts. In this case Enzo, the canine subject, was also subject to a series of early ego-disrupting traumas.
Enzo’s youth was spent on a spacious farm, after which he was moved to a house, and finally to the confines of an urban apartment. This shrinkage of his physical space was paralleled by an expansion through his ego space of a delusion of reincarnation in the form of his human hosts.
This colonization of his weakened ego structure was abetted by his painfully arthritic hip, the loss of his principle female host, and his life tutelage via chronic television watching. Given academic studies about the social and psychological distortions wrought by television watching, it is no wonder Enzo attaches to reincarnation, probably derived from a program on the History Channel.
The episode involving the carnage of the stuffed zebra is classic projection, as the repressed rage engendered by his repeated traumas and distorted world view erupt into the physical environment. After this episode, all that remains of Enzo’s ego structure is a flexible membrane, filled with psychotic delusions.
I find it sad that readers are beguiled by this seemingly heartwarming story, which masks a pathetic case of ego dissolution and mental breakdown. Mmrrroowwwrr!
Cora the Cat
(1) Schneider, Ivan. “Narrative Complexity in the Talking-Dog Stories of Cervantes, Hoffmann, Gogol, Bulgakov, and Kafka.” Master’s Thesis, Harvard University, 2012.