Heroes and imperfections


I promise to not make this blog into one never-ending series called “What I’m Reading – and So Should You!”  But – sue me, people – I’m reading a lot right now.  And unless you want to hear about my dream last night (I killed a wild hog), then thank your lucky stars that it’s a post about a book.

At the suggestion of my cutie friend Carrie Cohen (SHOUT OUT), I’m currently reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” by Garth Stein.  The narrator (who happens to be a dog – stay with me) gives an account of the family that he lives with, all the while waxing poetic about life, philosophy, and race car driving – which he has learned a great deal about from his master.  Maybe it’s a silly idea, allowing a dog to narrate, but so far, it’s a fun shift of perspective.

Here’s one of my favorite passages – and yes, this is the dog thinking:

“The true hero is flawed.  The true test of a champion is not whether he can triumph, but whether he can overcome obstacles – preferably of his own making – in order to triumph.  A hero without a flaw is of no interest to an audience or to the universe, which, after all, is based on conflict and opposition, the irresistible force meeting the unmovable object.  Which is also why Michael Schumacher, clearly one of the most gifted Formula One drivers of all time, winner of more races, winner of more championships, holder of more pole positions than any other driver in Formula One history, is often left off of the race fan’s list of favorite champions.  He is unlike Ayrton Senna, who often employed the same devious and daring tactics as Schumacher, but did so with a wink and therefore was called charismatic and emotional rather than what they call Schumacher: remote and unapproachable.  Schumacher has no flaws.  He has the best car, the best-financed team, the best tires, the most skill.  Who can rejoice in his wins?  The sun rises every day.  What is to love?  Lock the sun in a box.  Force the sun to overcome adversity in order to rise.  Then we will cheer!”

Hilarious that Stein attributes thoughts like these to a mere mongrel of a dog – but also, a little bit poignant.  Because if we’re honest, even – and maybe especially – in our simplest moments, don’t we feel the exact same way?

Perfection is boring – and so it’s interesting to me that we often expect the people around us to be perfect.  Why do we insist on something other than just real life with others?  If we’re honest, wouldn’t we rather experience someone’s flaws – with the hope and expectation that they just might triumph over their shortcomings?  Wouldn’t we love to be a part of that?

Wouldn’t we love for others to give us that chance?

Wouldn’t we love to give ourselves that chance?



  1. Katie on May 26, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    I love this idea – that the chance to be real, and even be heroic, is better/more exciting than perfection. Food for thought. (And I’ve been meaning to read The Art of Racing in the Rain.)

  2. Eric on May 26, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    Congrats on show that hog who’s boss.

    Interesting book idea. May need to check it out.

  3. Ginger Ciminello on May 26, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    “When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” – Donald Miller

    Mmmhmmm. HUGS.

  4. Anonymous on May 26, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    Hmmm… you’ve got sort of a low opinion of dogs, don’t you?

    I have been wanting to read that book.

  5. hootenannie on May 26, 2011 at 11:01 AM


    Not sure what in this post makes you think that I have a low opinion of dogs, but anyone who knows me could tell you that next to wine, cheese, and good hair days, dogs are basically my favorite thing. :)

    The book is definitely worth a read – check it out, for sure.

  6. Lauren on May 26, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    Such wisdom from a dog!

  7. Shelby on May 26, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    i LOVED this book! I’m so glad you’re reading it. :)

  8. paul on May 27, 2011 at 8:41 AM

    great book. keep book-posting, Im looking for my next summer read by the pool

  9. Beth on June 3, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    Now THIS is why I love reading your blog. Amazing insights and just so well written. Well said Miss Annie!

  10. […] Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein Annie mentioned this book the other week, and I found a copy at the Brattle and thoroughly enjoyed Enzo’s story. […]

Leave a Comment