I had the privilege to hear Garth Stein speak on his latest book A Sudden Light a few weeks ago. The Art of Racing in the Rain is Stein's most famous work, but it had been on my TBR list for years without me having made any actual steps towards reading it. So while I heard him speak of his history as an author (and after my positive reading experience with A Sudden Light), I decided that it clearly deserved the coveted spot of "next up".
And there was one story that the author shared with us that sealed this book's fate on my TBR list.
Stein wrote The Art of Racing in the Rain and sent it along to his agent. Shortly before Thanksgiving, he eagerly awaited a call from his agent to tell him he had wrote The Next Great American Novel. He saw his agent's number come through on his cell, and sat down outside a grocery store... preparing himself to have praise for his work and genius heaped upon him.
But he got a very different call. Instead, his agent advised him to save his career... and throw the book away.
Due to Stein's tenacity and his belief in himself, he fired his agent on the spot and that "garbage" spent FOUR YEARS ON THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST!
This story spoke to me in so many different ways. It was definitely a message I needed to hear at this point in my life. I tend to base my value and self-worth on what other people think of me. I always think that others know better than me. I second-guess myself so often that it becomes second nature to me to believe a stranger over my own gut instinct.
How many New York Times Bestsellers have I just chucked in the trash can because someone else told me to??? I really need to speak to someone about where my check is.
As I tweeted to Garth Stein himself the night I finished this book, I found myself placing sidewalk chalk into my 2 year old's Easter basket, covered in purple sparkly "grass", while I BAWLED MY CORNEAS OUT. This book was equal parts beautiful, heart-wrenching and life changing. This isn't a Marley & Me story that will make you cry at your own memories of having to send your own beloved pet over The Rainbow Bridge. Okay... I can't lie, it'll do that too. But this story is so much more than that and will change how you see the world on a daily basis.
And it's made me side-eye my cat.
A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope--a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.