“We are all afforded our physical existence so we can learn about ourselves. So I understand why Denny, on a deeper level, allowed this situation to befall him. I won’t see he created the situation but he allowed it. Because he needed to test his mettle… He chose this life, and therefore he chose this battle.”
This sage observation about the meaning of human life is uttered by Enzo, Denny’s dog, the wise and unbearably loving narrator of one of the finer reads I have had in many a book. Author Garth Stein’s portrayal of this gentle, prescient and eloquent being is alternatively comical and heartbreaking as Enzo silently records both the life changing and banal events of the 10 years of life he shares with his beloved Denny.
To those of us who know dogs, who watch them watch us, who take the time to really watch them, this book will be familiar, some scenes even recognizable. But Stein pushes his readers just a bit as he mixes metaphysics, philosophy with a profound love for these animals and challenges some assumptions of ours. Playfully at first but by the end, not so playfully at all.
From the time I was a small child, I have known that dogs are special, that their attachment to humans is something unique, extraordinary and even in some cases, supernatural. Stein pays tribute to them in every way: his prose is at times almost lyrical, his characters so well defined that they are multidimensional. And Enzo?
Well, do read this lovely story to meet a character who will remain in your mind and in your heart.
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