Saturday, 1 December 2007

Life of Pi

Hurray! I just finished it! And it took my breath away. Not just for its writing, for the story, for how he conjures up life on a lifeboat on the Pacific Ocean, and the incredible animals that initially survive; he also brought back memories for me that I don't often recall with such vividity. You see, Gentle Reader, I lived on a sailboat for two years with my family when I was a teenager, and we spent most of those two years on the Pacific Coast of Central America. So reading Life of Pi became layered with my own memories of the ocean, of the salt on my face, the different sounds the wind and waves make depending on time of day, whether we were in dock or out at sea, whether we were sailing or motoring, and most of all, our rubber dinghy. My sister and I rowed our parents (mother and stepfather) everywhere, as we didn't have a motor for the dinghy. We had to pump it up with air when we were launching the dinghy after arriving at a port; we rowed to shore, and rowed back, for everything. In rough water the dinghy rode up and down, and in hot sun the rubber got hot too. So reading Life of Pi became remembering for me what the sea was like, and I can tell you, Gentle reader, that the author Yann Martel got all the details right. Except perhaps for the floating island of algae, but then as the scientist in Jurassic Park says, "Life will find a way," so it is in the realm of possibility, and this story is about possibility. It is a joyous, gripping, heart-wrenching, faith-filled adventure story. I highly recommend it. I am so glad I read it. And I have to admit that I avoided reading it so long because I thought it was a fable with talking animals, which I did NOT want to read, at all! Not when it comes to being marooned on the ocean, which was something we always had to be prepared for, living on the boat. Even now, I can't make a joke out of it. And I can vouch that flying fish DO land on the boat, do jump out of the water, because we had it happen many times once we were near the equator. They would land on our decks, and in the morning we would find them and toss the tiny corpses back into the water. And the tiger.....I will never look at Bengal Tigers quite the same, I will remember Richard Parker for a very long time. What a fascinating story.
So if you haven't read it yet, it is a treat for you, and if you have, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I'm glad it won the Booker......I suppose this means I'd better start checking out some of the other Booker Prize winners now! And thanks to my mother for giving me the book
So what is next? H-m-m, it has been very cold here today; -14c was our high, and tomorrow snow is arriving with the possibility that again we won't leave the house. What beckons in these first days of December to read? What would I like to read this year, to end this year?

6 comments:

Patricia said...

I said in an earlier post to you, that I read and hugely enjoyed this book. Did Mom give you the book I had given to her? Again, your reading speed is way past mine... happy reading when you can!

GeraniumCat said...

How wonderful to have such memories to enrich your reading experience. I too enjoyed Life of Pi very much.

Susan said...

HI Patricia - i think Mom gave me another copy after she read it and said it was good. And thanks, but it took me over a week to read the book! and I'm aiming for a little under a week per book, or I will never get my 64 books read for the 888 challenge next year! :-)
And to both you and Geraniumcat - what did you both enjoy about the book the most? I can't decide if I liked the religious aspect the most (he can't choose between the religions, how wonderful!) or the descriptions of life on the water, I enjoyed both so much. The killing of the zebra was so shocking, and yet when I read it, I was delighted that it was real - what a real killing would be like - not a made-up Disney version with no blood and guts. Life of Pi needed realism as much as possible to balance the fantastical elements - the realm of possibility became more real the more realistic events he could put in.
thanks for replying, you two! And Geraniumcat, have you fixed the broadband problems? Back in 2000 when Toby and I were in York, we had the internet connection through the tv, and that used to cut out all the time, even in the city. We have the same problems in Canada as you are experiencing in Northern England, where if you live in the countryside, the internet connections are very slow and unreliable, and download at a snail's pace. I hope one day they connect you to the outer world (ie give you cable connection down to where you live!)

John Mutford said...

I really enjoyed this too. I know a lot of people bulk at the alternate ending, but I love having options.

Patricia said...

There wasn't any one thing in particular I enjoyed, it was a very funny book and that was my favourite part. In particular, when he's thinking how happy some guy is to be coming onto his liferaft....and then he goes on to say it's a tiger!!

raidergirl3 said...

wow, I can't imagine how neat it would be to read about living on the sea like that after living on boats. It would really make that book special to be able to connect like that.
I loved this book, and the ending blew me away.