Summer Reading – The Life of Pi

The Life of Pi via Amazon

The first time I saw this book was as I watched a friend of mine cleaning out his bookshelves. It had been given to him by an ex who thought he should read it. And that’s about all I knew about it. That and the fact that he didn’t read it.

I was hooked pretty much immediately. I feel like I say that a lot, sorry if it feels redundant. Apparently, I’ve had really good luck picking out books so far.

The narrator of this story has a wonderfully calm voice. The author painted some of the most beautiful word pictures I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I’ll get back to that on Thursday.

The Author’s Note at the beginning claims that it’s a story “that will make you believe in God.” It’s sort of meta, self-referential. The Author’s Note discusses Martel’s apparent incapability to write a second novel and his hope to find inspiration in the calm tea fields of India. The inspiration doesn’t come as planned (isn’t that the way of inspiration, it never shows up when you need it to).

I read the first half of the novel in one day coming home from camp. Two hundred pages flew by during that 14 hour drive. The story bordered on the fantastic. The whole time I wondered where could this story come from. After a harrowing 227 days at sea trapped in a tiny lifeboat with a 450 lb Bengal tiger, Pi tells the story of his ordeal. His audience, two Japanese men representing the company owning the steamship that sank, listen to his story but disbelieve it. And then I felt a little bit like a sucker. Cause Martel did that thing that I always like. What makes a story true? Pi tells the Japanese men a more believable story, a more likely story, and yet they prefer what they perceive as fiction.

Doesn’t that just blow your mind?

Fiction calling out our self-delusion – our willful ignorance of the often cruel, bestial nature of mankind. As much as I enjoyed the word pictures of the novel that little twist at the end cemented in my mind why this novel is so popular.

In other news, I’ve been looking at prettiful things on Etsy for what seems like myriad hours. When I was looking for the cover art for the novel I found this beautiful print by Andrea Offermann that shows the Tsimtsum sinking into the sea and all of the animals escaping.

Life of Pi - The Ship Sank, Andrea Offermann
Life of Pi - The Ship Sank by Andrea Offerman via Nucleus Gallery

I’ve just realized I abruptly stopped awarding arbitrary stars to the books I’m reading. I hope you don’t mind. I would suggest this one as a good quick read that provides interesting glimpses into animal/human and animal/animal interactions as well as an interesting view of faith and survival.

So, check it out.And in other news: who’s excited about Harry Potter?

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