Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book It: Life Of Pi

“To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”
- Yann Martel, Life of Pi -

So last week I mentioned the novel ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel and stressed how much I really, really, really enjoyed it. I did. Very much so. And although I’d intended to write a little something about it last week, I didn’t finish the post on time. But here it is now.

First, to give you a general idea of what the story is about, here is a description from the back cover of the book:

Pi Patel, a God-loving boy and son of a zookeeper, has a fervent love of stories and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family and their zoo animals emigrate from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship. Alas, the ship sinks - and Pi finds himself in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi. Can Pi and the tiger find their way to land? Can Pi's fear, knowledge, and cunning keep him alive until they do?

Okay, go ahead and say it: ho hum. It doesn’t sound that interesting, does it? Come on...don’t be afraid to admit it. That is exactly how I felt when I read the description, and why it took me so long to get to this novel that had been sitting on my bookshelf for months. I was curious about it because it was so popular, but at the same time I was reluctant to get started because I was expecting one of those stories that end up as a cute, animated Disney film. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Disney films are rather enjoyable, and I’ve watched most of them with my kids. But I’m not always in the mood for that. Sometimes I need something a little less cute and a little more intense.


Along comes Life of Pi, which not only fulfilled my need for something intense and satisfying, but also left me profoundly moved. This is not simply a story of a young boy facing immeasurable hardship while lost at sea with a 450-pound Bengal tiger as his only companion; it is also a meditative journey with many parallels to spirituality that make us question humanity, nature, survival, morality, faith and what it means to be alive. It will make you think. It will make you wonder. It will make you feel. It will make you question. And it will bring to the forefront the duality of human nature: the veneer that civilization imposes on us and the instinctual, inner animal.


In this story that also includes some wonderful humour, there are many pearls of wisdom buried throughout, but the one that stands out the most is the constant, uplifting reminder that you can still find beauty, spirituality and hope in a world that is often plagued by cruelty and ugliness by man’s infinite inhumanity to man. Life of Pi rewards the reader in many ways, and how much you like it will almost certainly depend on how much tolerance you have for philosophical and religious questions, and whether you enjoy a little soul-searching.


I devoured this original, beautiful book, and I expect it will stay with me for a long time. When I got to the end of the story, I was forced to make a decision about what I’d read. I asked myself this (which you might, too):

Can I believe in the unbelievable, and accept as true without seeing?

I discovered that I can.


My overall recommendation: Read this book. Soon.


24 comments:

  1. Wow sounds like I have another book to read!!!! You make it sound very interesting, will add it to my wish list right away. Thank you for the review and insight!

    Alice

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    1. I really enjoyed it, and I hope you like it, too. At the very least, it's worth a try.

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  2. I've now downloaded it to my kindle, so I'll give it a go. I think I better read it before I watch the movie - in my experience the book is usually better.

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    1. Books are usually better. I haven't watched the movie yet for this one, but I hope to. Hubby is now reading this book, so it shouldn't be much longer.

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  3. Excellent review! I remember chuckling at that hope quote when I read it. It's a very thought provoking book and I found myself stopping quite regularly throughout just to ponder.

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    1. That was one of my favourite quotes. There are quite a few funny ones like that scattered throughout the book. Even in the midst of some serious business going on, there is a lot of humour to be found in this novel.

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  4. I'm with you, Martha! LOVE Life of Pi. It grapples with the really BIG questions of life in a way that few modern novels do anymore. Great review -- I know it will convince more people to read this wonderful book.

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    1. I think that's what I liked so much about this book --- that it's so different from many books that are out these days. It's quite a philosophical journey, but there is also adventure and humour to be found. It's a thought-provoking book, but it's also very entertaining.

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  5. I wish I had the time to read books. I should go see the movie at least

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    1. The movie is next in line. I've heard that it was quite good, so I'm looking forward to it.

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  6. great post! I've been wanting to read this book ... but like you, it is still sitting on the book shelf. Might be time to pull that one down.

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    1. It took me awhile to start reading this book, but I'm glad I finally got to it. I hope you enjoy it, too.

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  7. So this is what Life Of Pi is about. Thank you Martha for this review and you convinced me to get this book. Sounds to be 'right up my alley'!

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    1. I hope you like it, Jim! A good book to kick back and relax with.

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  8. If it's up Jim's alley, then I'll be converted very soon!!

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    1. I'd love to know what you think when you're done, Francie.

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  10. I usually try to avoid things that everyone is raving about, but you have piqued my interest with your description, so I just might give this a go.

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    1. I usually do, too, but I was very curious about this one. Not all popular books are to my liking, but Life of Pi was one of the good ones.

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  11. I tried to read this book and wanted to have your reaction and joy ,I was expecting too but..I didn't. I feel like there is something wrong with me,lol And you know how I am! I SHOULD have liked it. May be my brain was broken that day.

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    1. We can't all like the same things! There are books that the majority of people rave about that I don't like. Sometimes a story just doesn't work for us!

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  12. Hi Martha! I've got to read this book! I've been meaning to read it since it first came out. I'm always soul-searching the big questions, especially life, death, the meaning of it all, why I'm so fortunate when so many aren't, how do I face growing old, or worse having something terrible happen to Terry, on and on, and on.
    Thanks for the wonderful review!

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    1. I think you might enjoy this then. I am exactly like you...always soul-searching.

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