Garth Stein

After Oprah, having a display at Starbucks may be the most effective way to launch a book. Mount Baker resident Garth Stein got the the green mermaid launch for his novel The Art of Racing in the Rain (Harper, $23.95), about car racing, dogs, reincarnation, and an ugly child-custody battle. The book is based in part on Stein’s amateur racing with an old junker Miata after the Shoreline native returned home in 2001 following 18 years in New York. At Pacific Raceways (formerly SIR), “I reached the limit of what I could do without being independently wealthy. You see these guys out there with their quarter-million dollar cars. It all came to an end in a terrible crash, of course. I hit the concrete barrier. I was going over 100 mph. I had a concussion. My wife said, ‘And the good news is, you’re retired.’” Still, he value “this whole Zen of racecars, the balance and anticipation and being in the moment.” Which Art of Racing’s protagonist (the dog’s owner) needs during a family crisis. BRIAN MILLER

Sat., May 9, 2 p.m., 2009

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