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Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001 The protagonist Piscine Molitor Pi Patel a Tamil boy from Pondicherry explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker


10 thoughts on “Life of Pi

  1. says:

    It is not so much that The Life of Pi is particularly moving although it is It isn’t even so much that it is written with language that is both delicate and sturdy all at once which it is as well And it’s certainly not that Yann Martel’s vision filled passages are so precise that you begin to feel the salt water on your skin even though they are It is that like Bohjalian and Byatt and all of the great Houdini’s of the literary world in the last few moments of your journey – after you’ve felt the emotions endured the moments of heartache yearned for the resolution of the characters’ struggle – that you realize the book is not what you thought it was The story transforms instantly and foreverAnd in those last few chapters you suddenly realize that the moral has changed as wellYou feel Martel’s words lingering suggesting and you find yourself wondering whether you are his atheist who takes the deathbed leap of faith – hoping for white light and love? Or the agnostic who in trying to stay true to his reasonable self explains the mysteries of life and death in only scientific terms lacking imagination to the end and essentially missing the better story?There is no use in trying to provide a brief synopsis for this ravishing tale of a young boy from India left adrift in the Pacific in a lifeboat with a tiger who used to reside in his father’s zoo in Pondicherry There is no use because once you finish the book you might decide that this was not indeed what the book was about at all There is no use because depending on your philosophical bent the book will mean something very different to your best friend than it will to you There is no use because it is nearly impossible to describe what makes this book so grandRead this book Not because it is an exceptional piece of literary talent It is of course But there are many good authors and many good books While uncommon they are not endangered Read this book because in recent memory aside from Jose Saramago’s arresting Blindness – there have been no stories which make such grand statements with such few elements As Pi says in his story “Life on a lifeboat isn’t much of a life It is like an end game in chess a game with few pieces The elements couldn’t be simple nor the stakes higher” It is the same with Martel’s undulating fable of a book about a boy in a boat with a tiger A simple story with potentially life altering conseuences for it’s readers As Martel writes The world isn't just the way it is It is how we understand it no? And in understanding something we bring something to it no? Like Schroedinger's cat in the box the way this book is understood the way it is perceived affects what it is There has been some talk that this book will make it’s readers believe in god I think it’s a uestion of perspective To behold this gem of a novel as an adventure of man against the elements the “dry yeastless factuality” of what actually happened is certainly one way to go about it But to understand this piece to be something indescribable something godlike is by far the greater leap of faithOh but worth the leap if the reader is like that atheist willing to see the better story


  2. says:

    LITTLE INDIAN BOY GOES ON WEIRD BOAT RIDE WITH MEAN CAT


  3. says:

    I found a lot of this book incredibly tedious I tend to avoid the winners of the Man Booker – they make me a little depressed The only Carey I haven’t liked won the Booker Oscar and Lucinda I really didn’t like the little bit of Vernon God Little I read and I never finished The Sea despite really liking Banville’s writing So being told a book is a winner of the Booker tends to be a mark against it from the start unfortunatelyI’m going to have to assume you have read this book as if I don’t I won’t be able to say anything about it at all Apparently when Yann Martel wrote this he was feeling a bit down and this was his way of plucking himself up Well good on him That’s just great I was a little annoyed when I found out that the person the book is dedicated to had also written a story about a man in a boat with a wild cat and had considered suing for plagiarism The book is written by a member of that class of people who are my least favourite; a religious person who cannot conceive of someone not being religious There is some fluff at the start in which atheism is ‘discussed’ read discarded as something people inevitably give up on with their dying breath But the religious are generally terribly arrogant so it is best not to feel insulted by their endless insults – they know not what they doParts of this were so badly over written that it was almost enough to make me stop reading The bit where he is opening his first can of water is a case in point This takes so long and is so incidental to the story and written in such a cutesy way that I started to pray the boat would sink the tiger would get him I would even have accepted God smiting him at this point as a valid plotting point even if or particularly because it would bring the story to an abrupt endThis is a book told as two possible stories of how a young man survives for 227 days floating across the Pacific Ocean told in 100 chapters That was the other thing that I found annoying – much is made of the fact this story is told in 100 chapters – but I could not feel any necessity for many of the chapters Just as I could not feel any necessity for the Italic voice that sounded like Tom Waits doing “What is he building in there?” Well except to introduce us again to Pi some number of years later You know in Invisible Cities Calvino has necessary chapters – this book just has 100 chapters It was something that annoyed me from early on in the book – that the chapters seemed far too arbitrary and pointing it out at the end just made me irritated There may well be some Hindu reason for 100 chapters – but like Jesus ticking off the ancient prophecies on his way to martyrdom I still couldn’t see why these chapters were needed in themselvesPi is the central character in the book who for some odd reason is named after a swimming pool – I started playing with the ideas of swimming pools and oceans in my head to see where that might lead but got bored He is an active practicing member of three of the world’s major religions There is a joke in the early part of the book about him possibly becoming Jewish ha ha – or perhaps I should draw a smiley face? The only religion missing entirely from the book is Buddhism Well when I say entirely it is interesting that it is a Japanese ship that sinks and that the people Pi tells his story to are Japanese engineers I’ve known Hindus who consider Buddhists to be little than dirty filthy atheists – so perhaps that is one reason why these Japanese engineers are treated with such contempt at the end of the bookThe Japanese make the connections between the two stories – but we can assume that they stuff up these connections While it is clear the French Cook is the hyena Pi’s mum is the orang utang and the Asian gentleman is the zebra I’m not convinced Pi is meant to be the tiger In fact the one constant that’s a pun by the way you are supposed to be laughing in both stories in Pi My interpretation is that the tiger is actually God Angry jealous vicious hard to appease arbitrary and something that takes up lots of time when you have better things to do – sounds like God to meThe last little bit of the book has Pi asking which is the better story the one with animals or the one he tells with people I mean this is an unfair competition – he has spent chapter after chapter telling the animal story and only the last couple telling the people story The point of this though is Pascal’s wager said anew If we can never really know if there is no god and it ultimately makes no difference if we tell the story with him or without him in it but if the story is beautiful with him in it – then why not just accept him in the story and be damnedWell because the story isn’t improved with the animals and life isn’t just a story and kid’s stories are great sometimes but I often like adult stories at least as much – and sometimes even This is yet another person all alone survival story but one I don’t feel that was handled as well as it could have been – mostly because the writer had an ideological message that he felt was important than the story – never a good sign Worse still in the end I really couldn’t care less about Pi – I knew he was going to survive and knew it would be ‘because of’ his faith He does talk about Jesus’ most petulant moment with the fig tree – so I was uite impressed that rated a mention – but all the same I haven’t been converted to any or all of the world religions discussed in this bookCompare this tale with the bit out of A History of the World in Ten and a Half Chapters about the painting – I know it is not a fair comparison Barnes is a god but I’ve made it anywayI didn’t really enjoy this book I felt it tried too hard and didn’t uite make it But Christians will love it – oh yeah – Christians will definitely love it


  4. says:

    It's not that it was bad it's just that I wish the tiger had eaten him so the story wouldn't existI read half of it and felt really impatient the whole time skipping whole pages and then I realized that I didn't have to keep going which is as spiritual a moment as I could hope to get from this book


  5. says:

    I was extremely surprised by this book Let me tell you why it's a funny story On the Danish cover it says Pi's Liv Pi's Life but I hadn't noticed the apostrophe so I thought it said Pis Liv Piss Life and I thought that was an interesting title at least so perhaps I should give it a go So I did And what I read was not at all what I had expected I thought it was a book about a boy in the slums or something It wasn't until I looked up the book in English I realized the title wasn't Piss Life I was deceived for the longest time and well not only about this When I first read it I also thought it was based on a true story I'm not sure why I thought that I must have misread something I vaguely recall thinking the prologue was instead an introduction It was a sad and ehm slightly humiliating day when I discovered the truth lay elsewhere I guess your romantic beliefs must die someday and that was the day for meSee it's easier to believe in the world and be optimistic about it when you also believe that world capable of containing a boy and a tiger co existing on a lifeboat for 7 months and surviving The truth is this book probably changed my life not in any grand extraordinary way But with the small things the small observations Like how he was afraid to run out of paper to document his days in the lifeboat and instead he ran out of ink Like how he chose to embrace three religions not just one This book and Pi especially represent and embody a way of life that I admire It's not about believing in God but about what it takes to believe in something anything really Yourself the world goodness life God If it seemed real enough for me to believe it had happened perhaps the real world is indeed a place where it could happen And that's what I want to believe even if real life might tell me otherwise


  6. says:

    Big Bois Everyone's heard of them The Libraries are full of them But are they worth it?Click the link for my video review of the big bois in my lifeThe Written ReviewThe beginning is roughIt's all like Why do we keep going on and on about religion? Where's the boat? Where's the tiger? Stop and enjoy the roses The book will get to the tiger part when it wants to Young Pi Piscine Pi Patel spends the first part of the book joining the Christian Muslim and Hindu faiths It's not a matter of he can't choose a religion it's that he is able simultaneously believe in all of them The philosophical musings and religious prose provide an extremely interesting insight on how these religions intersect If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer if He burst out from the Cross 'My God my God why have you forsaken me?' then surely we are also permitted doubt But we must move on To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation And thenyou get to the tiger partPi Patel's life uickly shifts from one of religious philosophy and animal care at his family's zoo to one of great uncertainty His family is closing their Indian zoo and they need to travel by boat to a new county Whatever animals they couldn't sell or trade are on the shipOnly something goes wrong Very WrongThe ship is capsizing and it looks like neither human nor animal will make it out alive Soon Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with a menagerie of animals and within an adventure he will surely never forget Dare I say I miss him? I do I miss him I still see him in my dreams They are nightmares mostly but nightmares tinged with love Such is the strangeness of the human heart Note view spoilerWas I the only one who was upset with the ending? I was so mad that we were given the two scenarios at the end of the story It was like the rug was being pulled out from under me According to Pi either we are to believe the tiger adventure happened or it was the alternate version cannibalism and watching his family die in the boat I felt cheated and turned what was a huge triumphant moment into a truly giant downer hide spoiler


  7. says:

    Sift a pinch of psychology with a scant tablespoon of theology add one part Island of the Blue Dolphin with two parts philosophy mix with a pastry blender or the back of a fork until crumbly but not dry and there you have Pi and his lame o cheesed out boat ride to enlightenmentActually I liked the beginning of this book loved Pi's decleration and re naming of himself his adding religions like daisy's to a chain and was really diggin on the family as a whole and thenthen then then the tarpaulin I did learn some things though I learned thata cookies work wonders in assuaging heated argumentsb Tiger turds do NOT taste good no mater how hungry you are and hold absolutely no nutritional value actualy this might apply only to turds obtained from tigers that have been floating on rafts for several weeksmonths? I think I'll apply it as a general ruleI wanted to like this book I loved the cover and then there's that little golden seal that keeps going psst psst you don't get it it's waaaay deep you missed the whole point But I think no I got the point like a 2 by 4 to the forehead I got the dang pointWhat I lack in spelling this author lacks in subtlty I felt like the ending was a study guidecliff notes pamphletwikepedia entry all in one I love Pi in the first 3rd I understand the merits of Pi in the raft just not my thing but pi in the last bit ugh ughugh I'm chocking on the authors shoving of moral down my throat help help I can't breath2 stars for the beginning negative 3 stars for the ending add something or subtract to make it eual a positive ???? and there you have my 2 starred LIfe of Pi review


  8. says:

    Life of Pi was a fairly engaging story in terms of plot and character but what made it such a memorable book for me at least was its thematic concerns Is it a story that will make you believe in God as Pi claims? I'm not sure I'd go that far but I would recommend it to people who enjoy thinking about the nature of reality and the role of faith in our lives To me the entire thrust of the book is the idea that reality is a story and therefore we can choose our own story as the author himself puts it So if life is a story we have two basic choices we can limit ourselves only to what we can know for sure that is to dry yeastless factuality or we can choose the better story I suppose in Pi's world the better story includes God but he doesn't say this is the only meaningful possibility In fact Pi calls atheists his brothers and sisters of a different faith because like Pi atheists go as far as the legs of reason will carry them and then they leap Pi's point in my opinion is that human experience always involves interpretation that our knowledge is necessarily limited that both religious belief and atheism reuire a leap of faith of one kind or another after all there's so little we can know for sure For Pi then we shouldn't limit ourselves only to beliefs that can be proven empirically Instead we should make choices that bring meaning and richness to our lives; we should exercise faith and strive for ideals whatever the object of our faith and whatever those ideals might be Or as Pi says in taking a shot at agnosticism To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation In the end however I didn't necessarily read this book as an invitation to believe in God Instead I saw it as a mirror held up to the reader a test to see what kind of worldview the reader holds That is as Pi himself says since it makes no factual difference to you and you can't prove the uestion either way which story do you prefer? Which is the better story the story with the animals or the story without the animals? Or as I took it Is it my nature to reach for and believe the better but less likely story? Or do I tend to believe the likely but less lovely story? What view of reality do I generally hold? Another eually important uestion is this How did I come by my view of reality? Do I view the world primarily through the lens of reason? Or do I view it through the lens of emotion? For Pi I think it's safe to say his belief comes by way of emotion He has as one reviewer noted a certain skepticism about reason in fact Pi calls it fool's gold for the bright Pi also has what I would call a subtle but real basis for his belief in God namely an intellect confounded yet a trusting sense of presence and ultimate purpose But belief still isn't easy for him Despite his trusting sense of purpose Pi acknowledges that Love is hard to believe ask any lover Life is hard to believe ask any scientist God is hard to believe ask any believer So it's not that a life of faith is easier in Pi's opinion it's that for him belief is ultimately worthwhile This is not to say however that Pi holds a thoroughly postmodern view of God or that he believes as a matter of art rather than in a sincere way True Pi suggests that whether you believe his story had a tiger in it is also a reflection of your ability to believe in something higher And of course it's easy to read Pi's entire story as an attempt to put an acceptable gloss on a horrific experience Still there are a number of clues throughout the book that give the reader at least some reason to believe Pi's story did have a tiger in it for instance the floating banana and the meerkat bonesAs such Pi's two stories could be seen as an acknowledgement that both atheism and belief in God reuire some faith and therefore it's up to each of us to choose the way of life that makes us the happiest He's not necessarily saying that the truth is what you make it he's saying we don't have unadulterated access to the truth our imagination personalities and experiences unavoidably influence the way we interact with the world But that's not the same as saying whatever we imagine is true I think Pi for instance knows which of his stories is true It's not Pi but the reader who is left with uncertainty and who therefore has to throw her hands up and say I don't know or else choose one story or the other And to me this isn't too far off from the predicament we all find ourselves in And that's what makes Life of Pi such a challenge to the reader Pi's first story is fantastic wonderful but hard to believe Yet there's some evidence that it happened just the way he said it did And Pi's second story is brutal terrible but much easier to accept as true Yet it's not entirely plausible either and it leaves no room for the meerkat bones or Pi's trusting sense of presence and ultimate purpose If the reader personally dismisses the tiger story out of hand I suppose that's another way of saying the reader by nature tends to believe the likely but less lovely story In the same way if the reader gets to the story's payoff and still believes there was a tiger in the boat the reader is probably inclined to believe the emotionally satisfying story But it should be born in mind that Pi doesn't definitively state which story was true something which only he can know for sure All we can really be sure of in Pi's universe is that he was stuck on a lifeboat for a while before making it to shore So which story do I believe? I struggled with that uestion for a long time But after thinking about it for a couple of days I'll end this review with the final lines from the book Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr Patel and none in the company of an adult Bengal Tiger


  9. says:

    I read this book two years ago but when we discussed it this month for book club I remembered how much I liked it A good discussion always ups my appreciation of a novel as does an ending that makes me reuestion my givens in the story I find myself reading contradictory interpretations and agreeing with both sides That's the beauty of symbolism as long as you back up your cause it's plausible Initially it took me several weeks to get into the book The beginning reads like a textbook with inserted clips of the main character's future self While the knowledge I gained about zoology and theology was interesting it wasn't intriguing enough to keep me awake for than a few pages at a time and often I found the tidbits a confusing distraction But with distance I enjoyed the backdrop information it offered If you're struggling through the initial background jump ahead to the second section Yeah it's important but it's not vital And maybe once you've read the story you'll want to come back and appreciate his analysisI highly enjoyed this strange journey at sea and found it almost believable until the castaways encounter the island at which point I wondered how much of his sanity wavered Being shipwreck is one of a plethora of phobias I have Throw on top my even stronger fear of tigers and this was a story straight out of a nightmare one that kept me intrigued for a resolution How could a boy keep the upper hand shipwrecked with a tiger? I had a picture in my head of Pi clinging to the side of the boat to avoid both the salty water infested with sharks and a foodless boat housing a hungry carnivoreI found myself stuck in the unusual place where as a reader I find a story plausible with full knowledge that had this story been presented in real life I would have doubted its authenticity I wanted to believe the story and all its fantasy The end initially annoyed me but if you look at the rich metaphors in the story it becomes delectable for a story analyst like me There is nothing I enjoy than tearing apart a story and pulling out the intentions and symbols buried inside Instead of just a fantastical story you find a fable with a moralSpoilers hereview spoilerI want to reread the story now and analyze Richard Parker as Pi's alter ego seeing that alpha and omega struggle as an internal one Even the name Richard Parker is a hint at cannibalistic roots since it is the true account of a sailor who died at the hands of his cannibalistic crew members I keep going back to that moment when Pi calls for Richard Parker to join him on the ship and then is appalled at what he has done Once Richard Parker has joined his voyage there is no banishing him If they are one and the same they beautifully represent that internal battle between the civilized vegetarian and the animalistic instinct to survive showing the compartmentalization he needed to prevent madness You would not expect the small boy to conuer the beast whether animal or himself and yet he keeps the upper hand for an unimaginable 227 days Had the cannibal overrun his pysche he would have lost his battle and landed a madman When the duo landed on the beaches of Mexico Richard Parker took off never to be noted by civilians again but alive and surviving Thus the horror of the incident will always live in Pi's memory but he chooses to repress it as it has no part in civilizationI enjoyed the portrayal of the characters on the boat as animals I could envision the uiet maternal sadness the orangutan gave his mother Since the crew would be blamed for the demise of the ship the wounded sailor as the zebra lying as prey to a demented and angry foreign chef who is just as crazy as we view the viscous hyena The symbols were perfect and I think a second read would bring out their traits even stronger Some of the richest symbolism comes from the cannibal island and sailor I think Pi's childlike mind could not deal with the cannibalism of a loved one and lets this theme leak into other story elements The blind sailor is a second portrayal of the French chef a character too big and conflicting to fit into one projection At first he is the mean animal thinking only of his own survival but as the journey progresses Pi is conflicted with his friendship for the man A bond is bound to happen between the only two survivors in limited space and Pi could not come to terms with his human feelings for the barbaric man So he invents a second character one whom he can make human worthy of connection but in the end is still untrustworthy and Pi must kill or be killed So what of the strange island? In his hallucinating state it serves as a mirage where life is not as sweet as he suspected The island parallels his own problems at sea with rich religious symbolism of the Garden of Eden No matter what one's ethical code the will to survive trumps one's moral haven These vegetarians person and island don't want to harm but are killing to survive Something happened out at sea that his waning mind and blindness both real and spiritual could not substantiate and like all else he twisted it to a socially accepted tale Since the island is discovered just after the sailor dies maybe finding one of the chef's tooth on board turned him Or maybe Pi happened upon a pile of garbage infested with rats and this boy starving and demented enough to have tried his own waste sees it as a heaven His civilized nature knew he should scorn the filth but his barbaric needs were grateful for the nasty feast The bones in the boat proof that his experience was real could have been rat bones Whatever the cause of his epiphany he had to enter the depths of his own personal hell to realize this was not a heaven or Garden of Eden and a return to civilized behavior was vital for his own survival Richard Parker was winning as he felt completely detached from civilization He almost wished to stay and die at sea to live at a level of base survival instead of have to emotionally deal with his ordeal to progress But his innate need to survive wins out as he realizes that as the lone castaway if he does not fight his mind's descent into madness the sea will eat him mentally and literally One of my favorite interpretations of the island is a religious fork in the road Whatever truly happened the island cements your belief in the first or second account Either you see the meerkat remains as proof that the beauty of the first story is true or the island is the point at which you start uestioning the credence of his tale and believe he threw in this unbelievable turn of events to ready you to accept his alternate ending As readers we are given the choice between two stories We can pick the miraculous version of the first story an icon of those who believe in God or we can pick the grim atheist view of the pessimistic although reasonable second story as do those who believe science disproofs God In section one Pi references religion to not only show where his beliefs give him strength but to give backbone to the religious allegory He shows disdain for the indecisive agnostic see uotes below and bids you chose your path The island serves to uestion your own religious devotion but you have to pick what you think it represents which story you care to believe Pi states this is a story that makes you believe in God As a believer in God and the second story I don't think there is merely an atheist interpretation to the second Either you accept God with a leap of faith despite dissenting controversy or you take the bleak realism and see God saved him from death at sea and even protected him from mental anguish by healing his soul from the horrors he experienced Both stories can justify the belief in God or justify your belief in nothing Just as I don't believe people who buy the second story are atheists I do not believe people who chose the first story follow blindly or idiotically It's a matter of interpretation The story isn't going to make you believe or disbelieve God any than you now doAt first I was annoyed he recanted his story because I wanted to believe his original story It is imaginative and well written and I didn't like being called out for believing fantasy from the fantasy itself But how could I not love an allegorical explanation to a literal story? So now I love that he presents both stories the imaginative far fetched one and the plausible horrific one and leaves you the reader to decide which one you want to buy into and let you ponder what it says about you That is the point of the story hide spoiler


  10. says:

    On the surface Life of Pi is a funny little book heart warming and audacious but dig a little deeper and you’ll see how complex the story actually is The magically real elements make the story doubt itself; they call into uestion the probability of these events actually happening because they are so ridiculously unrealistic As Pi says to those that disbelieve him I know what you want You want a story that won't surprise you That will confirm what you already know That won't make you see higher or further or differently You want a flat story An immobile story You want dry yeastless factuality” Such an assertion uestions the truth of fiction The details aren’t important Change but a few of them and the journey Pi goes on remains the same It does not matter if he was trapped on the boat with a bunch of zoo animals or people that reflected the animals in his life the story remains the same the truth is not changed Belief is stretched to absolute breaking point and sometimes it needs to be with a story like this And such a thing harkens to the religious ideas Pi holds He practices several religions believing they all serve the same purpose This never wavers despite the violent and desperate times he eventually faces And I really did appreciate this idea; it demonstrates unity in a world divided over matters of faith when it should not be Again are the details really that important? To a religious zealot such a thing boarders on blasphemy though the harmony of such an idea speaks for itself in this book “If you stumble about believability what are you living for? Love is hard to believe ask any lover Life is hard to believe ask any scientist God is hard to believe ask any believer What is your problem with hard to believe?” Although I disagree with many of the sentiments in this book sentiments that may belong to Pi as our narrator and perhaps even to the author himself I appreciated the degree of time taken to clarify them The stance on religion was an interesting one with disbelief being compared to a lack of movement in one’s life not something that I see as truth Zoos are also described as places of wonderment for animals rich in safety and easy living which can be true in some cases though the horrors of bad commercial zoos and the cruelty and exploitation that go with them are completely ignored For me this is not a point that can be overlooked in such fiction or in life To do so is somewhat naïve no matter the good intentions of Pi I did not love Life of Pi I never could though it is a book that made me think about the purposes of fiction and the power of stories true or untrue