Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi is an oddly fascinating tale of a young man named Piscine Molitor Patel. You can well imagine what type of nicknames the boys in school called Piscine. (say it to yourself a few times) Growing tired of the teasing, when Piscine starts secondary middle school, he is determine to reinvent himself. When roll is called he marches up to the blackboard and writes.

"My name is

Piscine Molitor Patel,

known to all as

I double underline the first two letters of my given name

Pi Patel

For good measure I added

π = 3.14

and I drew a large circle, which I then sliced in two with a diameter, to evoke that basic lesson of geometry. There was silence. The teacher was staring at the board. I was holding my breath. Then he said, 'Very well, Pi. Sit down. Next time you will ask permission before leaving your desk.'" (pg 27-28)

Pi is saved and no longer has to deal with the nicknames. Pi is a boy of many faiths. He is attracted to God, explores and embraces the hindu, christian and the muslim faiths. This confuses not only his parents, but the religious leaders of each community. They don't see how it is possible to believe and follow all three faiths.

Meanwhile, Pi's father who owns and operates the Pondicherry Zoo decides to shut it down and move to Canada. All the animals are parceled out to other zoos throughout the world. On the ship ride to Canada, the ship sinks and Pi ends up on a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a tiger. The rest of the tale is about Pi fight for survival lost at sea as well as on the life boat.

Like I said, Life of Pi is an oddly fascinating tale that keeps you reading, wandering what is going to happen next.

I will end with one of the many interesting passages of thought Pi had while discovering his faith.

"I can well imagine an aethiest's last words 'white, white. L-l-love! My God!' and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless, factuality, might try to explain a warm light bathing him by saying 'Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain' and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story." (pg 80)

401 Pages
Publisher: Harvest Books
May 1, 3003
Literary Fiction

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