I can admit it. I was skeptical. My friend/colleague raved about the movie. He insisted that I needed to see it, but I did not go. He knows I write this blog, thus for Christmas Life of Pi came courtesy of my friend via Amazon. Instead of embarking on my next Ann Patchett I dived into this adventurous, philosophical and theological read. I am glad I did, as I loved the book and am now jumping to see the movie.
The storytelling is smart, rousing, original and grand. I had immense difficulty with the vivid gory parts in the lifeboat, but skimmed these paragraphs so that my mind would not be bogged by nasty, negative imagery. Putting this aside Yann Martel’s book has my highest praise.
I enjoyed Martel’s comparison of hotel management to zoo keeping. It is hysterically brilliant. I loved the good zoo enclosures/habitats, human house analogy. My heart was warmed when Pi declares his allegiance to three religions. I was tickled when Martel had the three religious figures fighting over Pi and his need to pick a singular religion. Pi was practicing all these religions with such dedication and true love. Insisting on making him choose illustrates the ridiculousness of these religious figures and (sorry if I offend) religion at times. I was struck how the book exceptionally illustrated how in awful situations we can lose our humanness and revert to animalistic measures while our psyche conveniently provides a protective shield.
Finally, I am thrilled that, I think, I grasped the religious undertones present. Usually these concepts are lost on me due to my lack of religion or religious upbringing. (I have had absolutely no religious education therefore I never understand Judeo-Christian references.) In Life of Pi one simply needs to understand three concepts to philosophize the author’s message. 1) Many people have deep faith in a God. 2) Many people believe there is no God. 3) Many people believe that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.
Pi provides two explanations for his horrendous ordeal. One story would indicate a believer in God while the other, an atheist. If one cannot choose which version of the tale is correct, then one would be an agnostic. What a very interesting and creative way to illustrate these three concepts. Martel began the book by stating that the tale will make a reader believe in God. I wish he had not taken this approach and left this part unsaid as the book would have been even more powerful.
If my analysis were correct, I would choose the story, which translates, to a God believer. The God believer story is exciting, amazing while far less disturbing and gruesome. That is why I choose this story, not because I believe or now believe in God. Life of Pi is not a story that makes you believe in God. Martel is succeeding in the complete opposite effect actually illustrating that people prefer to believe in religions or a God as it is better then the gritty, sad reality. He also shows how the mind through hallucination and great story telling, not God, protects the person to enable survival. Regardless of my small critiques this is an excellent read. Martel made me think as well as kept me entertained.I am excited for my next book, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I was suppose to read Taft but I am too intrigued by this other strange, little book filled with bizarre photos. I will let you know how it turns out.