Sunday, 6 January 2013

Book Review: Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

Good premise - boy stranded out at sea with some animals - and not badly executed but I couldn't help feel the author got his priorities wrong. The book is at its finest when the author writes about zoos, animals, the wild and human nature. Some great insights here about social rank, fear and loneliness. However, the author is fixated on trying - explicitly - to convince his reader of the existence of God. And it's here I felt he didn't quite deliver. I thought the book would have been so much more impactful had he focused on the beauty and subtleties of creation and left the rest to the imagination of the reader.

Here are my three favourite quotes from the book:
"... It's a question of brain over brawn. The nature of the circus trainer's ascendancy [over his/her lions] is psychological. Foreign surroundings, the trainer's erect posture, calm demeanour, steady gaze, fearless step forward, strange roar... these are so many factors that will fill the animal's mind with doubt and fear, and make clear to it where it stands, the very thing it wants to know..." 
"... A part of me did not want Richard Parker [the tiger on the boat] to die at all, because if he died I would be left alone with despair, a foe even more formidable than a tiger..." 
"... I was weeping because Richard Parker had left me so unceremoniously. What a terrible thing it is to botch a farewell. I am a person who believes in form, in the harmony of order. Where we can, we must give things a meaningful shape. For example - I wonder - could you tell my jumbled story in exactly one hundred chapters, not one more, not one less?... It's important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse..."

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