Yann Martel: ‘Life of Pi’

As I may have mentioned, I tend not to read wildly popular books until a minimum of 15 people have told me I need to stop what I’m doing and readthisbookrightnow. Is this because I’m a book snob? Yes! But I don’t have to defend my reading habits to anyone. And neither do you.

You’re committing your precious free time to reading a book, so you should damn well enjoy it. If that means Stephenie Meyers-ing it up, go for it. If a riveting dose of W. B. Yeats gets you going, that’s your prerogative. As for me, well, you hear about every book I read. I don’t end up loving every book I read, but when I take reading advice, I try to take it from people with similar reading taste as opposed to the NYT best seller list.

This is all to say that I finally read Life of Pi by Yann Martel! After the movie got all those awards, and knowing I’d never read the book if I saw the movie first, plus being urged by some friends to borrow it, I finally did. And I’m glad.

I felt like my imagination just got switched on again. I was reminded that reading is the greatest form of entertainment. And while I find really good writing to be entertaining, there’s nothing like an imaginative story. I read in order to learn about the world around me, and to gain insight into human nature, but at the same time, I also read to escape reality.

Life of Pi was refreshing. I know some people didn’t find it to be fast-moving enough, but I don’t tend to have a problem with lack of plot, and I found the suspense to be palpable. Anything could happen at any time in this story, and Yann Martel did an amazing job of getting inside Pi Patel’s head.

Pi is the son of a zoo owner and has a wealth of knowledge about animals, so when he gets trapped on the high seas with one, his knowledge becomes key to survival. I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t read the book yet, but it’s a fascinating look at how an improbable situation could play out. It’s a study in human nature, and animal nature and, well, Mother Nature.

It’s pretty hard not to be aware from the movie trailer and promotional images (see above) that Pi gets stranded at sea with a Bengal tiger. When you get over the improbability of that, you’ll totally buy into the story. Martel paints the scene down to the smallest details, like what happens to Pi’s skin over time and what he succumbs to eating. Oh, and what he does about that tiger.

I haven’t seen the movie yet. Have you? What did you think?

Gigglers: I’m not going to seek out the newest hardcovers and tell you whether or not to buy them. And while not the Sunday Review, this Sunday blog will explore my brilliant and fascinating thoughts about books. Please use the comments section to share your own thoughts on this book, or whatever you’re reading.

Image from GoodReads

Top image via lifeofpimovie.com

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